Much has happened in the world of basketball since the Rio Games. But despite COVID-19 causing the NBA to pause its 2019-20 season and forcing the postponement of the Tokyo Games, this summer's basketball tournament at the Olympics appears on track to be yet another thrilling entry into the history books.
It's currently unclear which players will definitely be returning to the Olympics due to the quick turnaround from the end of the NBA Finals to the start of the Tokyo Games. However, several of the best players to ever step onto a basketball court are eligible to return to the Olympics this summer, including none other than LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard, to name a few.
Carmelo Anthony, the most decorated United States basketball player in Olympic history, likely will not return for the Tokyo Games. The 36-year-old made his debut at the Olympics in 2004, helping the U.S. win a bronze medal. From there, though, it's been nothing but gold for Carmelo. In every Olympics since, Carmelo played a key role in the U.S. winning three straight men's basketball gold medals. He also ranks No. 1 in U.S. Olympic men's basketball history with 336 points and 125 rebounds and even holds Team USA's single-game scoring record of 31 points. Not too shabby.
Tamika Catchings will also not return to the Olympics this time around. And, believe it or not, her track record is even more impressive than Carmelo's. Catchings, who retired from basketball after spending her entire 15-year WNBA career with the Indiana Fever, guided the United States to four straight gold medals from Athens in 2004 to Rio in 2016. The Women's Basketball Hall of Famer leaves the Olympics as one of the most prolific players ever to represent the United States at the Games.
New Faces to Watch
One of the most talked-about youngsters in basketball could make his Olympic debut for the United States men this summer, and that player is none other than Zion Williamson. The No. 1 overall pick of the 2019 NBA Draft has been a terror in the NBA and even became the first teenager in league history to score at least 20 points in 10 straight games as a rookie. The 6-foot-7, 284-pound Duke product is one of basketball's brightest rising stars, and the Olympics could serve as his coming-out party to the world.
Another new name to watch could be Bradley Beal. Beal, who will turn 28 by the start of the Tokyo Games, turned down the opportunity to play in the Rio Games in 2016. However, if he opts to represent the U.S. this time around, he will immediately become one of the top players on Team USA. Beal currently leads the entire NBA in average points per game, and it's unlikely that the Washington Wizards will be competing in the postseason, giving Beal the chance to rest up before potentially heading to Tokyo.