What a U.S. men’s basketball roster looks like based on All-NBA teams

Jayson Tatum, Stephen Curry

The All-NBA teams released Wednesday indicate a hypothetical but ideal U.S. men’s basketball roster for this summer’s FIBA World Cup, and early top candidates for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

For the first time in history, four or the five players on the All-NBA first team are international — center Joel Embiid (Cameroon, though he is also eligible to represent France and the U.S.), forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (Greece) and guards Luka Doncic (Slovenia) and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Canada).

That’s another sign that a U.S. team that doesn’t have a large group of its best players will be vulnerable come the World Cup in August and September in the Philippines and the Paris Games. The U.S. World Cup roster is not expected to be named until after the NBA Finals.

In total, Americans filled nine of the 15 slots on the All-NBA first, second and third teams. Players who also received votes were also announced, which allows creating this fantasy roster of the top 12 U.S. players from the past regular season (as voted on by people who cover the NBA):

Guards: Donovan Mitchell (second team, 349 vote points), Stephen Curry (second team, 188 vote points), De’Aaron Fox (third team, 144 vote points), Damian Lillard (third team 137 vote points)
Forwards: Jayson Tatum (first team, 484 vote points), Jimmy Butler (second team, 182 vote points), Jaylen Brown (second team, 169 vote points), Julius Randle (third team, 125 vote points), LeBron James (third team, 81 vote points)
Centers: Anthony Davis (also receiving votes, 65 vote points), Bam Adebayo (also receiving votes, 9 vote points)

The hypothetical 12th and final spot would go to Ja Morant at guard (44 vote points) or Kevin Durant at forward (35 vote points).

The All-NBA voting supports what recent years have shown: center is the position of need for USA Basketball over the next two years. Getting an Olympic commit from Davis or Embiid could be paramount for U.S. national team director Grant Hill and head coach Steve Kerr.

Though he didn’t make an All-NBA team this season, Davis received by far the most votes among U.S. centers and is the lone American to make an All-NBA first, second or third team at center in the last six seasons. However, he did not play in either of the last two Olympics after injury-filled seasons.

Then there’s Embiid, the NBA MVP. He has never played in a major international tournament and appears to be eligible to play for his native Cameroon, France or the U.S. Cameroon didn’t qualify for the World Cup, making it unlikely that it qualifies for the Olympics, so it’s expected that Embiid will choose between the U.S. and France.

France’s head coach said two weeks ago that he doesn’t think Embiid will play at the World Cup because he is getting married this summer, giving Embiid more time to decide on his nationality.

What’s more, France, which beat the U.S. in group play at the Tokyo Olympics and lost the final 87-82, could field a team with three premier 7-footers: Rudy Gobert, projected No. 1 NBA Draft pick Victor Wembanyama and Embiid.

For the last World Cup in 2019, the U.S. roster included one of the 11 Americans who made an All-NBA team the previous season (Kemba Walker). That U.S. team lost twice at the World Cup and finished seventh overall, the worst major tournament result in U.S. men’s basketball history.

For the Tokyo Olympics, the original U.S. roster included two of the 10 Americans who made an All-NBA team the previous season (Bradley Beal and Damian Lillard). Beal withdrew before the Games due to COVID-19.

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At the French Open, a Ukrainian mom makes her comeback

Elina Svitolina French Open

Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina, once the world’s third-ranked tennis player, is into the French Open third round in her first major tournament since childbirth.

Svitolina, 28, swept 2022 French Open semifinalist Martina Trevisan of Italy, then beat Australian qualifier Storm Hunter 2-6, 6-3, 6-1 to reach the last 32 at Roland Garros. She next plays 56th-ranked Russian Anna Blinkova, who took out the top French player, fifth seed Caroline Garcia, 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 on her ninth match point.

Svitolina’s husband, French player Gael Monfils, finished his first-round five-set win after midnight on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning. She watched that match on a computer before going to sleep ahead of her 11 a.m. start Wednesday.

“This morning, he told me, ‘I’m coming to your match, so make it worth it,'” she joked on Tennis Channel. “I was like, OK, no pressure.

“I don’t know what he’s doing here now. He should be resting.”

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Women | Men | Broadcast Schedule

Svitolina made at least one major quarterfinal every year from 2017 through 2021, including the semifinals at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in 2019. She married Monfils one week before the Tokyo Olympics, then won a singles bronze medal.

Svitolina played her last match before maternity leave on March 24, 2022, one month after Russia invaded her country. She gave birth to daughter Skai on Oct. 15.

Svitolina returned to competition in April. Last week, she won the tournament preceding the French Open, sweeping Blinkova to improve to 17-3 in her career in finals. She’s playing on a protected ranking of 27th after her year absence and, now, on a seven-match win streak.

“It was always in my head the plan to come back, but I didn’t put any pressure on myself, because obviously with the war going on, with the pregnancy, you never know how complicated it will go,” she said. “I’m as strong as I was before, maybe even stronger, because I feel that I can handle the work that I do off the court, and match by match I’m getting better. Also mentally, because mental can influence your physicality, as well.”

Svitolina said she’s motivated by goals to attain before she retires from the sport and to help Ukraine, such as donating her prize money from last week’s title in Strasbourg.

“These moments bring joy to people of Ukraine, to the kids as well, the kids who loved to play tennis before the war, and now maybe they don’t have the opportunity,” she said. “But these moments that can motivate them to look on the bright side and see these good moments and enjoy themselves as much as they can in this horrible situation.”

Svitolina was born in Odesa and has lived in Kharkiv, two cities that have been attacked by Russia.

“I talk a lot with my friends, with my family back in Ukraine, and it’s a horrible thing, but they are used to it now,” she said. “They are used to the alarms that are on. As soon as they hear something, they go to the bomb shelters. Sleepless nights. You know, it’s a terrible thing, but they tell me that now it’s a part of their life, which is very, very sad.”

Svitolina noted that she plays with a flag next to her name — unlike the Russians and Belarusians, who are allowed to play as neutral athletes.

“When I step on the court, I just try to think about the fighting spirit that all of us Ukrainians have and how Ukrainians are fighting for their values, for their freedom in Ukraine,” she said, “and me, I’m fighting here on my own front line.”

Svitolina said that she’s noticed “a lot of rubbish” concerning how tennis is reacting to the war.

“We have to focus on what the main point of what is going on,” she said. “Ukrainian people need help and need support. We are focusing on so many things like empty words, empty things that are not helping the situation, not helping anything.

“I want to invite everyone to focus on helping Ukrainians. That’s the main point of this, to help kids, to help women who lost their husbands because they are at the war, and they are fighting for Ukraine.

“You can donate. Couple of dollars might help and save lives. Or donate your time to something to help people.”

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Marcell Jacobs still sidelined, misses another race with Fred Kerley

Marcell Jacobs

Olympic 100m champion Marcell Jacobs of Italy will miss another scheduled clash with world 100m champion Fred Kerley, withdrawing from Friday’s Diamond League meet in Florence.

Jacobs, 28, has not recovered from the nerve pain that forced him out of last Sunday’s Diamond League meet in Rabat, Morocco, according to Italy’s track and field federation.

In his absence, Kerley’s top competition will be fellow American Trayvon Bromell, the world bronze medalist, and Kenyan Ferdinand Omanyala, the world’s fastest man this year at 9.84 seconds. Kerley beat both of them in Rabat.

The Florence Diamond League airs live on Peacock on Friday from 2-4 p.m. ET.

Jacobs has withdrawn from six scheduled head-to-heads with Kerley dating to May 2022 due to a series of health issues since that surprise gold in Tokyo.

Kerley, primarily a 400m sprinter until the Tokyo Olympic year, became the world’s fastest man in Jacobs’ absence. He ran a personal best 9.76 seconds, the world’s best time of 2022, at last June’s USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships. Then he led a U.S. sweep of the medals at July’s worlds.

Jacobs’ next scheduled race is a 100m at the Paris Diamond League on June 9. Kerley is not in that field, but world 200m champion Noah Lyles is.

The last time the reigning Olympic and world men’s 100m champions met in a 100m was the 2012 London Olympic final between Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake. From 2013 to 2017, Bolt held both titles, then retired in 2017 while remaining reigning Olympic champion until Jacobs’ win in Tokyo, where Kerley took silver.

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