HomeBasketball TodayDraymond Green Persuades Jayson Tatum to Team Up for 2020 Olympics

Draymond Green Persuades Jayson Tatum to Team Up for 2020 Olympics

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Jayson Tatum has Draymond Green to thank for his status as a Team USA fixture.

Boston Celtics superstar Jayson Tatum has already been named as one of seven “locks” to play for Team USA at the 2024 Paris Olympics, joining the Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James, Golden State Warriors‘ Stephen Curry, Phoenix Suns’ Kevin Durant and Devin Booker, Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid and Celtics teammate Jayson Tatum. Conspicuously absent from not just that list, but also USA Basketball’s 41-player pool of candidates for Paris? Draymond Green, a two-time gold medalist who’s spent his entire NBA career playing under Team USA coach Steve Kerr.

Green, obviously, won’t be heading to France this summer to help the Americans avenge last year’s disastrous showing at the FIBA World Cup. But Green certainly played a role in Tatum becoming an Olympics fixture for USA Basketball, convincing him to play in the 2020 Games after Tatum expressed initial hesitations about wearing his country’s colors in Tokyo.

“I remember—a little off topic, but kind of along the same lines—Olympics 2021, I called Jayson Tatum,” Green recalled on the 7PM in Brooklyn podcast with Carmelo Anthony and Kid Mero. “He like, ‘Yo, like I’m on the fence, I’m a little tired.’ I said, ‘JT, this all started and began about building Hall-of-Fame resumes. Like, don’t lose sight of that because you tired today. Like, remember the long! Like, we trying to build Hall-of-Fame resumes, you got potential to do that but you ain’t there yet JT! And he like, ‘You know what?’ He called me back a day later, like, ‘You right, I’m playing,’ and he committed.”

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Jayson Tatum’s potential role with Team USA at 2024 Olympic Games

Jayson Tatum, LeBron James, Team USA, Olympics, Celtics

Tatum, of course, heeded Green’s advice, helping the Americans to a fourth straight Olympic gold medal while emerging as a fixture for USA Basketball in his debut with the senior team. He averaged 15.2 points in the 2020 Games, second on Team USA behind Kevin Durant, and shot a scorching 44.3% from three-point range on nearly seven attempts per game. Tatum played some of his best basketball when it mattered most, too, scoring 19 points and grabbing seven rebounds off the bench in the United States’ hard-fought win over France for gold.

Expect the 25-year-old to play a similar role for the Americans this summer. James and Durant are shoo-in starters at forward due to their age, longevity and historic success with USA Basketball. You can also earmark Curry and Embiid to start at point guard and center, leaving one starting spot open in the backcourt.

Tatum is certainly talented enough to fill it, but odds are Kerr and his coaching staff opt to open with a more defensive-oriented guard next to Curry, Durant, James and Embiid. Holiday played the role of perimeter stopper for the Americans in 2020, and figures to do so again in Paris. Anthony Edwards, along with Tyrese Haliburton, is reportedly under “strong consideration” for the United States’ 2024 Olympic squad, his dogged on-ball defense—especially when engaged—making him a more seamless fit for that fifth starting slot than Tatum.

Odds are Holiday or another defensive ace like Mikal Bridges, a favorite of Kerr’s on last year’s FIBA team, get the nod as the United States’ fifth starter. Just like he was three years ago, though, Tatum figures to be a true two-way impact player off the bench for the Americans, affording them the necessary stylistic and lineup flexibility required to be the last team standing in what promises to be a loaded field of countries vying for gold.

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About the Author

Jack Winter is a veteran NBA writer and editor based on the West Coast. He currently lives in Oakland, covering the last legs of the Golden State Warriors’ dynasty.

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