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Aaron Rodgers might need Kevin Durant in his next retirement into obscurity.
Let’s start today with news from Shams.
The latest from Shams
LeBron and Steph lead the wave of 2024 talent
On Monday, along with Joe Vardon, we reported that LeBron James, a three-time Olympian, two-time gold medalist and NBA all-time leading scorer, has a strong interest in one more Olympic Games and is ready to commit for the next one. summer. He has also called several stars to recruit them for the U.S. team in Paris, several league sources said. The Athletic.
James has spoken with Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis, Jayson Tatum and Draymond Green, all of whom are prepared to commit. Separately, Devin Booker, Damian Lillard, De’Aaron Fox and Kyrie Irving also have serious interest in committing, league sources say.
This recruiting effort began well before the 2023 FIBA World Cup, where Team USA failed to medal after being led by Anthony Edwards and Mikal Bridges. James’ effort was unrelated to whether this summer’s team won or lost. While the U.S. team has struggled in the last two World Cups, the program has won four consecutive golds at the Olympics.
James, who hasn’t played for Team USA since the 2012 Games in London and will turn 39 in December, and Durant, a three-time Olympian and gold medalist who will turn 35 next summer, watch the Paris games as a “last dance” with USA Basketball, sources said.
Take it, Marco!
How will these superstars fare in Paris?
Is James the Captain America of American basketball? Or is he more like Iron Man because he has more money and strengthens his body with science? Let’s go with James as Iron Man and Curry as Captain America, the powerful golden boy who used to be skinny. Durant as Thor (otherworldly ability, funny and introspective) with Draymond as Hulk (you can understand why) are other easy choices.
As Shams mentioned, James is effectively putting together basketball’s version of the Avengers, and Team USA couldn’t ask for a stronger, more cohesive top six for its 2024 roster with Davis and Tatum rounding out the superstar commitments. But who else should get the call to defend the honor of American basketball?
Like the Avengers, there are plenty of heroes to call upon, but chemistry matters too. Let’s examine how Team USA’s potential 2024 roster could come together and what each player can bring to the table to reassert the country’s basketball supremacy:
- PG Curry – Captain America: Shooting, ball handling and valuable off-ball skills. His game is perfect for international play.
- SG Booker – Hawkeye: It can be outside or inside the ball. Your midrange is money.
- SF Durant – Thor: Team USA’s all-time leading scorer who can do it all.
- PF James-Iron Man: It will undoubtedly provide the best Cabernets.
- C. Davis – Groot: America’s best tire protector.
- PG Damian Lillard – Black Panther: Deep triples, dribble penetration and grip.
- PG De’Aaron Fox – Quicksilver: He ranked fourth in the NBA with 874 points in drives last season.
- SG Jimmy Butler – Black Widow: Team USA needs a stopper to get rid of their hot opponents. He will set a physical tone.
- SG Anthony Edwards – Spider-Man: He is the future. This is the internship he needs.
- SF Jayson Tatum— Winter Soldier: Another pillar of the future. He is incredibly durable and has elite scoring skills.
- PF Draymond Green – Hulk: Green is quite loud and has a high IQ.
- C Joel Embiid – Thanos: He is the capable giant America needs.
The Athletic NBA Show’s Andrew Schlecht and Dave DuFour chose a 2024 roster in The Ultimate Team USA Draft episode.
Also, check out my expanded thoughts on the revamp of Team USA’s men’s roster.
There is no rest for the weary
The NBA considers restrictions on resting stars
Any player who has recently earned All-Star or All-NBA honors is now under the watchful eye of the NBA’s new rest policy. According to a report by ESPN, enforcement is based on league investigations and will include independent medical reviews. Fines could increase from $100,000 to $250,000 to $1 million. Here’s a summary of the league’s crackdown:
- A team cannot rest multiple stars in the same game.
- Resting healthy stars for “any high-profile, nationally televised match” is prohibited.
- Teams must ensure that there are stars available for the seasonal tournament (starts November 3).
- Prolonged closure of healthy players is not allowed.
- When healthy players rest, they should be in the game and visible to fans.
- Teams cannot rest players exclusively for away games. The NBA prefers that stars rest for home games.
Given those rules, the NBA will keep a special eye on teams like the Clippers (Kawhi Leonard, Paul George) and Warriors (they have several qualified “stars” in their 30s, although Klay Thompson, by virtue of his two-year hiatus for injuries, will not qualify).
The proposed rules will be subject to a vote this week by the board of governors.
The WNBA playoffs are here!
Postseason chat with Sabreena Merchant
Frame: Las Vegas is the top seed and defending champion, but New York has been the hotter team over the last 20 games. Both teams split the season series. So Sabreena, who would you say are the favorites to win it all?
Sabrina: The gap is negligible for now. Las Vegas has the WNBA’s best overall offensive and defensive rating, but New York has led both since early August. A’ja Wilson and Breanna Stewart (voted the future of the league by players) essentially cancel each other out, as do All-Star perimeter trios. Freedom ought I have an edge with Jonquel Jones over Kiah Stokes, but Las Vegas’ ball movement gives New York problems when they go small with Alysha Clark.
I would give the slightest advantage to Las Vegas because of their home court.
Frame: I lean towards the Aces too, perhaps because New York was the archenemy of my beloved Houston Comets back in the day. I’m scheduled to face Liberty. Kelsey Plum is the X Factor.
The odds favor a showdown between Liberty and Aces. Is it likely that some team will crash the party and upset one of them?
Sabrina: As New York head coach Sandy Brondello recently noted, Washington is not your typical seventh seed. If the Mystics had been healthy all year, they would have home field advantage in the first round. Instead, they are regaining their form later than expected but just in time. Washington’s 90-88 win over New York on Sunday shows potential for an upset, pressing the paint on offense and aggressively defending Liberty’s perimeter players.
Frame: In 2021, Kahleah Copper became a star in Chicago’s title race. Who could do the same in this postseason?
Sabrina: Satou Sabally and the Dallas Wings are the favorites to reach the second round. With a strong semifinal against the Aces, Sabally would continue his season-long coming out party. I expect highlights from Brittney Sykes for the Mystics.
Even though Napheesa Collier is already a multiple-time All-Star and Olympian, I still think the national audience doesn’t appreciate her dominance, but I don’t see the Lynx making enough progress to change that perception.
Frame: I’m surprised you didn’t mention one of the studs from Dawn Staley’s show in South Carolina. You are absolutely right about Collier. She is so good and almost criminally underrated.
Ok, Sabreena, a scenario for you: three seconds left, the ball rises up for an open three-pointer, feet in position, catch and shoot. Do it, move forward. Miss it, go home. Who do you want to take the photo?
Sabrina: Sabrina Ionescu. But what if it’s a pull-up 3? Give me Chelsea Grey. There is no one better in difficult situations.
Frame: Yes effectively. If the shot is created, I want Chelsea. But at one spot up, are you sure you won’t take Tyasha Harris or Jackie Young, the league leaders in 3-point percentage?
Sabrina: In reality, the shooter rTake care of me right now would be Rhyne Howard. The release from him is so fast and so high. She can always take a good look at it.
Frame: Let’s finish with your first round (best of three) predictions. Who do you have?
No. 1 Las Vegas vs. No. 8 Chicago
Sabrina: Aces (2-0) – Chicago’s defense has no chance of stopping Las Vegas.
No. 2 New York vs. No. 7 Washington
Sabrina: Liberty (2-1) – I’m confident Stewart will get the job done for New York down the stretch, even in a close game.
No. 3 Connecticut vs. No. 6 Minnesota
Sabrina: Sun (2-0) – Minnesota turns the ball over frequently and no one turns takeaways into points better than Alyssa Thomas and Connecticut.
No. 4 Dallas vs. No. 5 Atlanta
Sabrina: Wings (2-0) – Dallas’ offense was seven points per 100 possessions better than Atlanta’s during the regular season. I just don’t see how the Dream can compete with the size of Dallas.
(Top photo: Martin Rickett/Getty Images)
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