The Team USA Select Team exists for several purposes. It gives the senior team a group of players to practice against in preparation for the Olympics. It serves as a feeder system into the senior program, with seven of the 12 players on the roster who are going to Tokyo having played for the Select Team at some point in the past. In a pinch, though, it can also serve as a ready-made replacement pool. With Devin Booker, Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton still playing in the NBA Finals along with several other players unavailable, that is exactly what it is doing now.
Team USA is preparing for the Olympics with practices and scrimmages in Las Vegas right now, but have lost three Select Team players for the rest of the Olympic training camp due to COVID-related reasons -- the Knicks' Immanuel Quickley and the Hornets' P.J. Washington and Miles Bridges, according to the AP. Plus, with three players still busy in the NBA Finals and a couple of players dealing with injuries, the senior team needs replacements for a series of exhibition games, beginning on Saturday night when Team USA plays Nigeria.
They've settled on three players to promote: Detroit Pistons forward Saddiq Bey, Cleveland Cavaliers guard Darius Garland and San Antonio Spurs guard Keldon Johnson, according to The Athletic's Shams Charania. The promotions suggest that the three have stood out in a crowded Select Team field.
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That would be no easy feat considering the talent present. Team USA initially brought 17 players to serve as its Select Team, and while youngsters like Anthony Edwards and Isaiah Stewart got hurt, there was still no shortage of options for Gregg Popovich to choose from. Tyler Herro, Tyrese Haliburton and Obi Toppin are among some of the other young players who did not earn those promotions, although the Heat's Herro has been out for undisclosed reasons and Naz Reid of the Timberwolves are both sidelined with a minor injury.
Positionally, the three players chosen align with those that are still playing in the Finals. Bey, like Middleton, is a forward. Booker and Holiday are guards, just as Garland and Johnson are. Johnson plays for Popovich in the NBA as a member of the San Antonio Spurs.
Barring an injury to a member of the Olympic roster, these exhibitions will be as far as the Select Team members go with Team USA in 2021, but that experience is going to be valuable for them moving forward. Booker, Holiday, Kevin Durant, Zach LaVine, Kevin Love, Draymond Green and Jerami Grant all turned Select Team experience into spots on the Olympic roster. Bey, Johnson and Garland are now putting themselves in position to do the same in the future.