Zach LaVine has been selected to a pool of 57 players that USA Basketball will use to create the 12-man roster they will send to Tokyo for the 2021 Summer Olympics.
A 44-man pool was created in early 2020 in anticipation of the Olympic Games being held in the summer of that year. Given the delay of the Games due to COVID-19, USA Basketball decided to expand its pool to 57 players. All but two of the original 44-man pool are included in this 57-player pool (Klay Thompson, Marcus Smart).
Jerry Colangelo, the president of USA Basketball, touched upon the expansion of the pool saying, “Having a larger pool than what we normally have is critical because of all of the uncertainties we face about availability.”
There will be no tryouts for this Olympics due to the condensed NBA schedule and COVID-19 restrictions. USA Basketball will nail down their 12-man roster by the “early summer” and will use a Selection Committee to do so. The members of that committee are currently unknown.
Training camp will begin July 1st with the Games beginning July 23rd. This timing does pose some potential scheduling conflicts as the NBA Playoffs run through July, with a potential Game 7 of the Finals being just one day before the opening ceremonies.
LaVine will be competing with the likes of Eric Gordon (Rockets), Jerami Grant (Pistons), and Jrue Holiday (Bucks) from the new pool for a guard spot in this year’s games, while also having to compete with members of the original 44-player pool.
The likes of Bradley Beal, Devin Booker, James Harden, Kawhi Leonard, and Donovan Mitchell will also be competing with LaVine for similar roster spots.
LaVine is currently enjoying the best season of his career, averaging career-highs in PER (22.8), points-per-game (28.7), field-goal percentage (52.5%), effective field-goal percentage (61.5%), free-throw percentage (85.7%), rebounds-per-game (5.2), and assists-per-game (5.1).
Out of the players he will most likely be competing against, LaVine ranks only second in points-per-game to Beal (32.5). He also ranks in the top-five in the SG/SF position when it comes to PER, win shares, and effective field-goal percentage.
Will he make the team? It is a longshot but certainly not out of the realm of possibility, especially due to the uncertainties posed by COVID-19. LaVine will need to worry about continuing to play his best basketball and letting the chips fall where they may.