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OLYMPIC GAMES | BASKETBALL

Team USA call up McGee, Johnson in place of Beal, Love

JaVale McGee and Keldon Johnson have been added to Team USA's roster for the Olympics, following the withdrawals of Bradley Beal and Kevin Love.

Update:
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JULY 06: Head coach Gregg Popovich of the 2021 USA Basketball Men's National Team attends a practice at the Mendenhall Center at UNLV as the team gets ready for the Tokyo Olympics on July 6, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Ethan Miller/Gett
Ethan MillerAFP

The United States will arrive in Tokyo next week with a roster that’ll be a far cry from the Dream Team they looked like boasting not long ago. The absence of several of the NBA’s top players (LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Kawhi Leonard, Anthony Davis, Paul George, Trae Young, Zion Williamson...) had already left Team USA with a group halfway between what it might have been and the weakened roster that went to the 2019 World Cup in China, but with Kevin Durant, Damian Lillard and Bradley Beal seemingly set to lead the charge, the Americans remained clearly stronger than two years ago.

Beal to miss Olympics with covid-19, Love ruled out with calf problem

But as the Olympics have drawn nearer, the outlook for Team USA has only got worse. It has been confirmed that Beal will miss the event after contracting covid-19, while Kevin Love has also been ruled out with a calf injury. Love is not enjoying the finest period of his career, having played very few games for the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2020/21 NBA season, but his experience and quality nonetheless made him an important part of Gregg Popovich’s roster. USA Basketball has taken less than 24 hours to announce Beal and Love’s replacements, and on paper they’re not hugely inspiring.

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JaVale McGee and Keldon Johnson are the men selected. The former, a 33-year-old veteran with 13 seasons of NBA experience, spent this year with the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Denver Nuggets, playing an average of 14.7 minutes per game. A winner of three NBA championship rings, two with the Golden State Warriors and one with the Los Angeles Lakers, last year in the Disney World bubble, he has principally served as a rotation player, a specialist in the defensive side of the game, something which could benefit Team USA as long as he manages to adapt to the style of play of FIBA basketball.

McGee, Johnson will add greater height to Team USA roster

As for the San Antonio Spurs’ Johnson, who was in his second year in the NBA in 2020/21, he was one of the players chosen for the Select Team, a group of youngsters who are training with Team USA. He has impressed the American coaches during his time in the camp, earning him his ticket to Tokyo. With McGee (center) and Johnson (small forward), the USA have added greater height to their ranks - an area which appeared to be a weakness - but, without Beal and Love, lose out in terms of quality and points.

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