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Sports Illustrated Submits Early Tokyo 2020 Predictions
Wasting no time following the United States' 96-66 win over to Serbia in Rio de Janeiro to clinch a third-straight gold medal in men's basketball, projections for the 2020 Olympics in Toyko have already begun.
Though he withdrew from consideration to play in this summer's games to rest a foot that was hobbled with plantar fasciitis for much of the 2015-16 NBA season, some are already predicting a Team USA spot for Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard in four years. Lillard participated in USA Basketball camps in 2013 and 2014, missing out on a roster spot at the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup.
Constructing a team of players who have never featured in an Olympics with the parameters of eligibilty, age, USA Basketball ties and position, Sports Illustrated's Ben Golliver projects Lillard as one of three point guards to represent the red, white and blue in Tokyo.
"After missing out in 2014, Portland’s two-time All-Star was out of consideration for Rio, and then back in, and then out again, citing a foot ailment when all was said and done. While Lillard’s volume three-point shooting is his biggest strength, his familiarity playing on and off the ball would be a nice asset if he shared a roster with both [Stephen] Curry and [John] Wall. Lillard’s off-criticized defense and his redundancy with Curry might lead to some fit questions, but he’s one of the few proven All-Star talents without Olympic experience who will still be under 30 in 2020."
Golliver goes on to omit Lillard, should USA Basketball veterans LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving return to the team for Tokyo. Lillard's Blazer backcourt running mate CJ McCollum is listed as an 'honorable mention' candidate in Golliver's 2020 Team USA projections. See the entire list at SI.com.