Starting Five (Rings): Thoughts on reported Team USA roster for Paris 2024 Olympics

Photo Credit: Akiem Bailum

We are less than 50 days out from the Opening Ceremony of the Paris 2024 Olympics. With this year’s Games right around the corner, one had to think that the reveal of the women’s hoops Olympic roster was right around the corner. 

According to Shams Charania and Joe Vardon at The Athletic, that 12-person roster happens to include….

A’ja Wilson (Las Vegas Aces)

Breanna Stewart (New York Liberty)

Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury)

Alyssa Thomas (Connecticut Sun)

Brittney Griner (Phoenix Mercury)

Napheesa Collier (Minnesota Lynx)

Jewell Loyd (Seattle Storm)

Kelsey Plum (Las Vegas Aces)

Jackie Young (Las Vegas Aces)

Kahleah Copper (Phoenix Mercury)

Sabrina Ionescu (New York Liberty)

Chelsea Gray (Las Vegas Aces)

USA Basketball always brings stacked rosters to international competitions like the Olympics and the FIBAs. The rendition of the Stars and Stripes that awaits foes in France is no exception. Here are a few initial thoughts looking at this roster. 

When the 3×3 roster was unveiled, the anticipation for an announcement pertaining to the 12-person 5×5 roster certainly increased. 

USA Basketball announced that Rhyne Howard, Cierra Burdick, Hailey Van Lith and Cameron Brink will comprise the 3×3 roster in Paris. 

Between this and another impressive set of names that will sport the red, white and blue on the 5×5 side, this year’s Olympics have the opportunity to be a banner one for USA Basketball. This will especially be the case given that the next Summer Games following this year’s Olympiad in Paris will be on American soil (Los Angeles) in 2028. 

When one looks at this roster, one cannot help but see that the lion’s share of the players play for three WNBA teams. 

Of course, given that the Aces are the two-time defending WNBA champions, one would expect a healthy Las Vegas contingency. The three Mercury players that are on the team are also notable as well as the two from the seafoam, black and copper of the Liberty. 

Nine of the 12-woman roster is from the Aces, Liberty and Mercury. Then there is one each from the Sun, Lynx and Storm. Having several Aces on Team USA certainly helped at the 2022 FIBA World Cup in Australia and one can expect that it will be the case once again. 

The reported unveiling of this year’s USA Basketball rendition also buries a massive lede. 

We now know half of the players that will participate in this year’s All-Star Game in Phoenix. One must keep in mind that this year’s All-Star Game will, in essence, be a massive pre-Olympics infomercial for this year’s Team USA rendition in Paris. 

The All-Star Game will follow the Team USA vs. Team WNBA format that was also a feature of the 2021 All-Star event in Las Vegas that was heavily affected by the pandemic. That year, Team WNBA picked up the victory over Team USA with Arike Ogunbowale claiming MVP honors. 

Ok – let us address the elephant in the room. 

As has become a common feature of the Caitlin Clark discourse, talking heads who can only name one WNBA player are outraged that Clark could be left off the Team USA roster. 

Once again they are trying to drive a narrative that other WNBA players are “jealous” of No. 22. 

First of all – the goal of USA Basketball is to win gold medals, not help NBC with a ratings boost. Also – it is the Olympics. Our guess is NBC will have no problem with ratings for the five-ring circus. 

In addition, these talking heads are once again attempting to put words in Clark’s mouth when she probably could use the extended break from the hardwood. She has been playing basketball and dealing with nonstop media coverage since her Iowa days came to a close. Clark needs to spend this time to build further camaraderie with Aliyah Boston and the rest of her Indiana Fever teammates. 

Also – if NBC wants Clark so badly, they will bring her on as an analyst either remotely or from their New York studio at 30 Rock. 

Once again, the media is attempting to chase the flashy story in Clark when there is another story that should get the lion’s share of focus. 

That story is Brittney Griner – and the fact that BG will be heading overseas for the first time since being imprisoned in Russia throughout 2022. 

Since Griner released her book “Coming Home,” much has been revealed about how truly terrible the Russia ordeal was – including her contemplating taking her own life. 

The next few months are poised to be an emotional rollercoaster for BG. This year’s All-Star Game will be in Phoenix – the city that has been her WNBA home her entire career. Not to mention competing for a gold medal wearing the very colors of the country that saved her from that horrific situation in Russia will surely mean a lot to her. 

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