Kevin Love was a surprising choice to represent the United States at the Olympics this summer. He won a gold medal with Team USA in 2012, but did not play on the Olympic team in 2016 and has struggled in the NBA over the past several years. Love has played in only 103 games over the past three seasons, and in that time, he has averaged a meager (by Olympic standards) 16.2 points per game. He has not made an All-Star team since 2018, and defense was a weakness even at his peak.
The United States has no shortage of eligible big men to choose from. Team USA director Jerry Colangelo even cited New York Knicks' Julius Randle as a candidate who was "right there" on Monday, but he explained that they ultimately landed on Love for two reasons. "It's because of his international experience," Colangelo said. "Yes it's true. He hasn't played much of anything these last few years. But, his versatility is valuable up front."
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In addition to his 2012 Olympic run in London, the Cleveland Cavaliers veteran big man also played for the 2010 FIBA World Cup team that won gold in Turkey. He has averaged 8.5 points and 6.2 rebounds across 17 games in international competition, which prizes shooting and passing out of big men. Those are qualities Love possesses in spades. He is one of the very best outlet passers in basketball and has shot 38.7 percent on 3-pointers in the Olympics and World Cup.
The U.S. basketball team will enter the Olympics as heavy favorites as it always does. Its talent advantage is always significant, so it can afford to make sacrifices in the name of fit with back-of-the-roster spots. Any team with Kevin Durant, Damian Lillard, Bradley Beal and Jayson Tatum is going to be just fine.