Four years ago when the majority of the NBA’s elite players decided to take the summer off, Kevin Durant seized the opportunity to lead Team USA.
The experience overseas helped Durant elevate his game and paved the path towards his MVP season last year.
During the nine game tournament, Durant served not only as the primary scorer, pouring in 117 more points than anyone else on the roster, he also ranked second in rebounds, blocks and steals.
His complete performance, without a single member of redeem team, the 2008 Olympic Team for the United States on the roster, enabled Durant to prove he is the most complete scorer in the game, while giving him an opportunity to serve as a leader on the team.
Durant shot below 50 percent just once during the gold medal run for the United States, as he averaged 22.8 points per game while shooting 55.6 percent from the field, 45.6 percent from 3-point range and 91.2 percent at the foul line.
By leaving off the stars from the gold medal Olympic Team in 2008, a new generation of talent was able to blossom.
Tyson Chandler served as the defensive anchor for the Americans, then played an intricate role on the Mavericks championship team the following summer.
Following his experience with the team, Kevin Love was selected to his first All-Star team and led the NBA in offensive rebounds and total rebounds in 2010-11.
The team was so talented that Golden State guard Stephen Curry struggled to find minutes, playing a combined 14 minutes in the final three games of the tournament once coach Mike Krzyzewski shortened his rotation.
The United States looks to defend its gold medal this September in Spain, releasing its final pool of players for the tournament, a list of 19 players.
Seven will be cut before tournament play starts, here is the roster Shatter the Glass thinks should represent America.
Point guard- Stephen Curry
A look at the final players available for Team USA indicates shooting is a priority for the team and over the past two seasons, no one has been more dangerous from 3-point range than Curry. The 26-year-old point guard could use his opportunity overseas to showcase his improved passing, as he dished out a career-high 8.5 assists per game last season.
Shooting guard-Klay Thompson
Along with his tremendous 3-point shooting, the 6-foot-7 Thompson provides plenty of perimeter defense for the team. Starting him next to Curry provides the team a sense of familiarity, something that helped Kevin Durant thrive when he was joined by Russell Westbrook four years ago in during the last run at the World Cup of Basketball.
Small forward- Kevin Durant
It would be understandable if the league’s reigning MVP decided to skip the tournament. The Oklahoma City star played a combined 100 games between the regular season and playoffs, and even though his team was eliminated in the Western Conference finals, Durant logged 815 minutes during the post season, the most of any player.
Power forward- Kevin Love
Success has been fleeting for Love outside of international competition. The three-time All-Star has yet to make a post season appearance, as Minnesota’s playoff drought extended to its 10th season. Love won a gold medals with Team USA during its last appearance in the World Cup of Basketball and was on the team during its victory at the London Olympics in 2012.
Center- Anthony Davis
A last minute addition to the Olympic roster following an injury to Blake Griffin, Davis has continued to excel ever since being selected with the first overall pick of the 2012 NBA Draft. Last season, he led the league in blocks, swatting away 2.8 shots per game, the same skill he displayed while in college. At the age of 21, Davis has displayed a refined offensive game, as he is an effective shooter and rarely turns the ball over.
Point guard- Damian Lillard
Lillard had perhaps the most memorable playoff debt in league history, eliminating the Rockets with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer in front of his home crowd. In two seasons, Lillard went from an unknown prospect from Weber State to an NBA All-Star after he averaged 20.7 points, 5.6 rebounds and knocked down 218 shots from 3-point range, the third most in the NBA last season.
Point guard- Kyrie Irving
After Cleveland landed LeBron James, he needs to be in mid-season form for the team to snap a four-year playoff drought and turn into a legitimate title contender. Irving has excelled during his two appearances at the NBA All-Star Game, even claiming MVP honors last year, proving he can quickly adapt to talented teammates, a trait that could earn him plenty of minutes on this team.
Shooting guard- Bradley Beal
Washington selected Beal with the third overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft hoping he could provide some much needed outside shooting to the team. He hasn’t disappointed. Beal connected on 40.2 percent of his attempts from 3-point range last season, knocking down 138 shots from beyond the arc on the year. Long range shooting is a commodity in international play.
Small forward- Paul George
Over the summer, George vowed to refine his post game and an appearance in this tournament could be a major help. The 6-foot-9 forward averaged a career-high 21.7 points per game last season, but posted-up on just five percent of his offensive touches, the fewest among qualifying forward in the league a year ago.
Power forward- Blake Griffin
Just days after being names to the United States Olympic team two years ago, a knee injury prevented Griffin from traveling to London. Previous versions of the American roster often included supreme athletes, and Griffin easily would be the most dynamic athlete on the roster. While he has become a sensation for his play above the rim, Griffin evolved his post game last season to be come a true star.
Center- DeMarcus Cousins
No player would benefit more from spending time among a group of highly talented players than Cousins. During his four-year career, Sacramento has presented little stability, as the team contemplated a move to Seattle, changed ownership, has gone through three coaches and is constantly churning its roster. A crash course with All-Star caliber players could go a long way in his development.
Center- Andre Drummond
Every team could use someone to hustle on every play, chase down every loose ball and not be too concerned with how many shot attempts he will have each game. The 20-year-old led the league in offensive rebounds last season, hauling in 440, ranked second in total rebounds and seventh in blocks. Drummond doesn’t provide the ability to stretch the floor, but is nearly automatic at the rim.