Harrison Barnes is part of the Team USA roster pool for the next Olympic cycle, 2018-2020, according to Team USA managing director Jerry Colangelo. The entire 35-man roster was announced Friday. Barnes joins 30 returning players as only five newcomers (C.J. McCollum, Khris Middleton, Devin Booker, Isaiah Thomas, and Myles Turner) have been added to the pool.
Barnes returns to the mix after having won gold with the Rio team in 2016. While in Rio, Barnes was a minor player, appearing in four games with an average of 4.3 points and 1.3 rebounds per game. The selection of Barnes to the final 2016 roster was surprising, and he was even mentioned as the worst player ever selected to a Men’s National team by Sports Illustrated. While the criticisms at the time were fair, Barnes has proved himself a capable NBA star in his own right during his past two seasons with the Mavericks.
The final roster construction of Team USA for the 2020 Olympics should be fascinating. While Team USA has largely stabilized in the years since the 2004 loss, there are many potential and defined changes on the horizon.
San Antonio Spurs coach Greg Popovich is taking over for Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski. LeBron James will have just played his 17th NBA season. DeMarcus Cousins and Isaiah Thomas will have recovered from their injuries, but will they still be top NBA players? Will stars like James Harden and Steph Curry still be interested in representing the United States?
Questions like these are why the roster pool is so large. From this far out and with such a large pool of talent at the forward position, it’s hard to see the path Barnes would travel to make the final Olympic roster. However, stranger things have happened (2016, for instance) and Barnes has proven himself as the type of player capable of steady improvement. His progression next season on an improved NBA roster could give us a glimpse as to whether he’ll elevate his game enough to garner serious consideration.