USA Basketball will have Denver Nuggets center JaVale McGee and San Antonio Spurs guard replace Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal and Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN and Shams Charania of The Athletic in tweets on Friday.
Keldon Johnson and JaVale McGee will replace Bradley Beal and Kevin Love on Team USA's roster for the Olympics, sources tell ESPN. McGee will travel to Las Vegas to join team on Saturday. https://t.co/236CgYVau0— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 16, 2021
Team USA's replacements for Bradley Beal and Kevin Love for the Olympics: Keldon Johnson and JaVale McGee. Johnson had an impressive camp. McGee is a three-time NBA champ. https://t.co/2u8Oe5RMu0— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 16, 2021
As for the new players on Team USA, I’ll start with Johnson, who is already a member of the USA select team. With Khris Middleton and Devin Booker still in the NBA Finals, Johnson has already been playing with the national team in their friendlies so far against Argentina and Australia, averaging about 13-14 minutes per game and not being as ball-dependent as other teammates.
Pounding The Rock’s Alamo City Limits podcast has more on Johnson, his fit with Team USA and his future with San Antonio. Last season, Johnson averaged 12.8 points and 6 rebounds per game and had a usage rating of 19.2 percent. The Americans need someone who can be effective off the ball, so he’s a great fit given the circumstances.
Now, as for McGee, we all know him as the guy making constant goaltends, odd dribbles dunking off the backboard when his team’s losing, and running the wrong way when Washington was losing 10 years ago during John Wall’s early years. “Shaqin’ a Fool” didn’t help, but I would definitely say that McGee deserved those lowlights back then. And it’s still hard for many Wizards fans of the last decade to believe that he could even make a team like this.
After his time with the Wizards, McGee went on to the Nuggets in a previous stint and some other teams. But he rebuilt his reputation as a solid veteran center with the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Lakers where he was part of three NBA championship teams in the last five seasons.
Like Johnson, McGee is a lower usage player (19.6 percent for his career, though he was at23.9 last season combined) and according to Cleaning the Glass, McGee had a very strong defensive metric of being in the 82nd and 86th percentile among centers in defensive points per possession last season with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Nuggets for his second stint after a midseason trade. That is notable because the Cavaliers were among the NBA’s worst teams defensively and the Nuggets were 12th. He ultimately scored 7.3 points and grabbed 5.2 rebounds per game last season with both teams.
There is another notable fact on McGee given his family ties. When he was drafted by the Wizards in 2008, McGee was the first NBA player to be the son of a WNBA player. His mother, Pamela played for the Sacramento Monarchs and Los Angeles Sparks at the end of her playing career.
Pamela was also a member of the 1984 USA Basketball women’s national team that won the Gold Medal in Los Angeles. So, this could very well be the first time that the son of a USA Basketball women’s national team player plays on the men’s national team. If the USA men’s team wins the Gold Medal this year, it will be a great feat to see as well because of the family ties.
Congratulations to Johnson and McGee for making the USA Basketball men’s national team.