LeBron James looks on at the Olympic Games London 2012 on Aug. 12, 2012 in London.
LeBron James is still in the mix for the 2020 U.S. Olympic men’s basketball team, while NBA superstars Stephen Curry and Kawhi Leonard are among those who could make their Olympic debuts later this year in Tokyo, following USA Basketball’s announcement Monday of the 44-man preliminary roster.
The full group includes nine members of the winning 2016 U.S. team and 16 total Olympians. All 12 players from last year’s FIBA World Cup remain in contention as well.
Only 12 will make the final U.S. Olympic Team, giving men’s national team managing director Jerry Colangelo and coach Gregg Popovich plenty of tough choices ahead.
“The commitment, desire and excitement of all of our athletes to represent their country is genuine and remarkable,” Colangelo said in a press release. “All of the finalists are exceptionally gifted athletes who offer us amazing versatility and depth, and the group of finalists features a range of players from those who are very experienced and accomplished in international basketball to players who will be future international stars."
James, already a three-time Olympian, is back on the list after sitting out the Olympic Games Rio 2016. Should he continue on and make the 2020 team, the four-time NBA MVP would tie Carmelo Anthony’s record of four U.S. Olympic men’s teams. James, now 35, is the only remaining player from the 2004 U.S. team and one of three from 2008, along with Dwight Howard and Chris Paul.
Two-time NBA MVP Curry and two-time NBA Finals MVP Leonard should be favorites to make their first Olympic teams should they remain in contention and stay healthy. Leonard was a finalist for the 2016 Olympic team. Curry has won two World Cups with Team USA, in 2010 and 2015, but he wasn’t selected for the 2012 Olympic team and then withdrew from consideration for the 2016 team.
Among the other big names on the starting list for the 2020 Olympic team are former NBA MVP’s Kevin Durant, James Harden and Russell Westbrook, all of whom have played in at least one Olympics before.
Durant and Paul are each aiming for their third Olympic team. However, Durant, the leading scorer on the last two Olympic teams, is out for the NBA season with an Achilles injury.
The U.S. men will be going for their 16th Olympic gold medal in Tokyo, and fourth in a row.
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The full roster includes:
Bam Adebayo (Miami Heat)
LaMarcus Aldridge (San Antonio Spurs)
Harrison Barnes (Sacramento Kings)
Bradley Beal (Washington Wizards)
Devin Booker (Phoenix Suns)
Malcolm Brogdon (Indiana Pacers)
Jaylen Brown (Boston Celtics)
Jimmy Butler (Miami Heat)
Mike Conley (Utah Jazz)
Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors)
Anthony Davis (Los Angeles Lakers)
DeMar DeRozan (San Antonio Spurs)
Andre Drummond (Cleveland Cavaliers)
Kevin Durant (Brooklyn Nets)
Paul George (L.A. Clippers)
Draymond Green(Golden State Warriors)
James Harden (Houston Rockets)
Montrezl Harrell (L.A. Clippers)
Joe Harris (Brooklyn Nets)
Tobias Harris (Philadelphia 76ers)
Gordon Hayward (Boston Celtics)
Dwight Howard (Los Angeles Lakers)
Brandon Ingram (New Orleans Pelicans)
Kyrie Irving (Brooklyn Nets)
LeBron James(Los Angeles Lakers)
Kyle Kuzma (Los Angeles Lakers)
Kawhi Leonard (L.A. Clippers)
Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers)
Brook Lopez (Milwaukee Bucks)
Kevin Love (Cleveland Cavaliers)
Kyle Lowry (Toronto Raptors)
JaVale McGee (Los Angeles Lakers)
Khris Middleton (Milwaukee Bucks)
Donovan Mitchell (Utah Jazz)
Victor Oladipo (Indiana Pacers)
Chris Paul (Oklahoma City Thunder)
Mason Plumlee (Denver Nuggets)
Marcus Smart (Boston Celtics)
Jayson Tatum (Boston Celtics)
Klay Thompson (Golden State Warriors)
Myles Turner (Indiana Pacers)
Kemba Walker (Boston Celtics)
Russell Westbrook (Houston Rockets)
Derrick White (San Antonio Spurs)
Chrös McDougall has covered the Olympic and Paralympic movement for TeamUSA.org since 2009 on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc. He is based in Minneapolis-St. Paul.