Report: Kawhi Leonard to fill final spot on USA Basketball Olympic roster

Los Angeles Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard plays during an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, March 27, 2024, in Philadelphia. (Matt Slocum/AP Photo)

The U.S. Olympic men’s basketball team will have the leader of the Toronto Raptors’ 2018-19 championship team on its roster.

Kawhi Leonard will be the 12th and final player to earn a roster spot on the U.S. men’s basketball roster for the 2024 Paris Olympics, according to a report from USA Today‘s Jeff Zillgitt on Tuesday.

The first 11 players on the roster were reported by several outlets on Monday, with names such as LeBron James, Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant headlining the participants.

Most of the guys on the roster have suited up for the Red, White and Blue before, with every player other than Joel Embiid — who became a U.S. citizen in 2022 — having taken part in at least one major competition with the team, either the Olympics or World Cup.

However, Leonard is a fresh face to the program, with the 32-year-old Los Angeles Clippers forward set to suit up for Team USA for the first time in his career.

On this stacked roster, featuring four former MVPs, five NBA champions with 12 rings between them, Leonard’s resume — highlighted by two Finals MVPs — certainly fits the bill for selection.

The six-time All-Star has dealt with a bevy of injuries in years past, preventing him from taking part in international play. During selection for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, Leonard was nursing a torn ACL. The wing has spent summers nursing ankle, meniscus and quad injuries.

Leonard has managed to avoid serious injury this season, playing in 68 games, the most since the 2016-17 season when he played 74. He is averaging 23.7 points, 6.1 rebounds and 3.6 assists on efficient .525/.417/.885 shooting splits.

His inclusion, should he remain healthy in the lead-up to the Olympics, will round out a roster seemingly built to redeem the team after the Americans’ fourth-place finish at the FIBA World Cup in the summer of 2023.

They’ll look to repeat their Olympic success, as the U.S. won the gold medal at the 2021 Games in Tokyo, going 2-1 in round-robin play before going undefeated in the three-round elimination bracket.

Durant, Bam Adebayo, Devin Booker, Jrue Holiday and Jayson Tatum are the five returning players from that team.

This will be Curry’s first time suiting up in the Olympics and James’ fourth trip with the USA. James has won two gold medals (2008, 2012) and one bronze (2004).

According to reports, other names that Team USA was considering included Clippers teammate Paul George, Knicks guard Jalen Brunson, Magic forward Paolo Banchero and Nets forward Mikal Bridges.

With Leonard’s inclusion, here’s what the final Team USA roster is expected to look like over the summer:

LeBron James, F, Lakers
Stephen Curry, G, Warriors
Kevin Durant, F, Suns
Joel Embiid, C, 76ers

Jayson Tatum, F, Celtics
Devin Booker, G, Suns
Jrue Holiday, G, Celtics
Anthony Davis, C, Lakers
Anthony Edwards, G, Timberwolves
Bam Adebayo, C, Heat
Tyrese Haliburton, G, Pacers
Kawhi Leonard, F, Clippers.

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