With James throwing his hat in the ring and the possibility of other stars lining up to play alongside him, let’s take a look at what the ideal 2024 “Dream Team” should look like.
The first three players must clear alpha dogs, with James at the forefront alongside Warriors guard Stephen Curry and Suns forward Kevin Durant. These three have been the face of basketball for the past 10 years and are undisputed leaders.
James is one of the more versatile players of all time, with the ability to play forward, point guard or center. Durant is one of the best scorers in NBA history and his 6-foot-10 frame provides a matchup nightmare for any opponent.
Curry, the greatest shooter of all-time, would use his off-ball movement and gravity to open the floor for the rest of the team. Their combination of skill, experience and leadership would provide the perfect foundation to build the rest of the roster.
The next group of players should be 26-year-old Suns guard Devin Booker, 25-year-old Celtics forward Jayson Tatum and 22-year-old Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards. Booker and Tatum won a gold medal in the 2020 Olympics, and Edwards proved himself in his recent run with Team USA at the World Cup, where he led the team in scoring (18.9 PPG).
All are elite, two-way players who can take over a game. They could play more minutes to spell the older trio of James, Curry, and Durant.
Rounding out the roster should be high-level role players. Cavaliers guard Darius Garland, Grizzlies guard Desmond Bane, Heat forward Jimmy Butler, Nets forward Mikal Bridges, Heat center Bam Adebayo and Lakers center Anthony Davis fit that description.
Davis and Adebayo could dominate the paint defensively due to international basketball’s lack of a defensive three-second rule. They also would provide the team with the big-man presence it sorely lacked in the FIBA World Cup.
Bane and Bridges are elite 3-and-D players and the perfect plug-and-play types. Garland, a true point guard, averaged 7.8 assists last season and can focus on getting the ball into the hands of these talented scorers.
Butler, a wild card, has a knack for making winning plays. His Swiss Army-style play, doing whatever the team needs to win, would be a huge benefit for this team. His hustle and tenacity would fire up his teammates to compete just as hard as he does.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr, who will coach the United States in Paris, knows winning at the international level is no slam-dunk for the Americans.
“This is not 1992 anymore. Players are better all over the world, teams are better and it’s not easy to win a World Cup or an Olympic game,” he told the media after the Americans’ loss to Germany at the World Cup.
Regardless of who ends up on the 12-man roster to represent the United States in Paris, the Americans will still be the team to beat — especially if they take this “Dream Team.”