The team that USA Basketball sent to Rio for the 2016 Olympics won the gold medal. That’s a fact. It’s somewhere between opinion and fact that they didn’t win very convincingly, never connected on the court, and could even be considered a little disappointing. Which is fine, as long as they won.
But what about everyone individually. The team wasn’t overly impressive, but every player brought (or didn’t bring) specific things to the tournament. How did each player fare in Brazil and what can they take with them from their Olympic experience going forward? Let’s find out.
Butler didn’t accomplish much, but with such a crowded group of wings it would have been nearly impossible. Hopefully he learned that he ought to work on his three-point shot. Like, a lot.
Durant has already described his Olympic experience as “therapy.” It was much needed after a summer where he followed his heart to Golden State and the general public decided his heart was not only wrong, but also dang near despicable. Leaving the country for two weeks and reminding everyone you’re still a top-3 player in the world has to feel pretty good.
The role of “highly competent yet overshadowed pick and roll finisher” Jordan plays with the Clippers continued on Team USA. It may have been inevitable, but he also could have gotten lost among even more stars than he normally plays with. He proved he can do what he does surrounded by even more star power. His lack of shots from opposing shrimps blasted into the stands was a bummer, though.
Lowry gets to say he was the backup point guard for the entire country without mentioning how marginal his influence was. He also got to hang out with DeMar DeRozan even more.
Literally nothing but the opportunity to see twitter jokes made at his expense.
He got to hang out with Kyle Lowry even more.
You gotta feel for Kyrie. When he finally gets to play without LeBron James, he has to play with both Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony. Give the man some shots! But he held the team together admirably. His assist numbers weren’t great, but others tended to play 1-on-1 ball that he can’t really prohibit. All in all, he got an NBA title and an Olympic gold medal in a three month span. He’s doing alright.
Thompson can shoot the ball as well as anyone, and he’d like us not to forget that. After a sluggish start, he saved all of America’s ass with 22 points to hold off Spain in the semifinals. Hopefully that memory and his gold medal will ease the pain of blowing a 3-1 finals lead.
Boogie introduced himself to the world. His excessive fouling, jawing, and general disruption has now been witnessed by dozens of millions more people. Remember that big scowly guy that nearly fought the ref? I wanna see him again! I hope the people of Venezuela are signing up for NBA League Pass right now. The Boogie Show never ends, and the audience is only getting bigger.
George got a feel-good story and hopefully plenty of confidence. To even come back to international competition after his horrific leg injury two summers ago was ballsy enough. But to make it to Rio and play as he did, with incredible passion and without fear was beautiful. You can’t commend that guy enough. He could’ve shot 0-37 and I still would’ve been happy about it.
Draymond learned valuable lessons about Snapchat and also how Coach Krzyzewski feels about genitalia-related distractions. On paper, Green is an ideal Olympic player. A midsize big who can roll to the hoop, shoot, defend multiple positions and play in a fluid system? He would be perfect, if USA had ran a fluid system. They didn’t, so he didn’t play much. Oh well. He’ll be very happy to see Steve Kerr and Steph Curry again.
He cemented his status as an American hero. In my book at least. I mean, watch this:
He’s been here since the disaster in 2004, growing along with the team itself. He’s the only American with three Olympic basketball gold medals. He doesn’t have an NBA title, but he seems okay with that. Stephen A. Smith isn’t, and if you aren’t either that’s fine. There’s a time and place for that discussion. This isn’t it. Thank you, Melo.