Lakers: Which Players Could Play for USA Basketball in 2020 Olympics?

Mar 23, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward Julius Randle (30) and guard D'Angelo Russell (1) against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena. The Suns defeated the Lakers 119-107. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 23, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward Julius Randle (30) and guard D'Angelo Russell (1) against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena. The Suns defeated the Lakers 119-107. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

The Lakers have no players on Team USA, but who on the current roster could suit up for USA Basketball in the 2020 Olympics?

Unfortunately, Kobe Bryant’s Farewell Tour included skipping the 2016 Olympics in Rio, meaning Los Angeles Lakers fans won’t be able to see any players from their favorite star suit up for USA Basketball one last time. Moreover, it also leaves the Lakers without a representative on Team USA.

This is an unfamiliar feeling as this is the first time since 2004 there won’t be any Lakers playing for the United States at the Olympics, though Jose Calderon is representing Spain and Marcelo Huertas is representing Brazil.

With many big names turning down the opportunity to play for Team USA in Rio, it makes you wonder which Lakers (if any) could potentially be selected to play in Tokyo in 2020.

Though we obviously can’t accurately predict the future in that regard, the three players who represented the Lakers on the USA Select Team are a great place to start.

D’Angelo Russell

The 6-5 combo guard had a roller coaster season last year. He was constantly in Byron Scott’s doghouse and found himself on the bench in the fourth quarter of close games. The Nick Young situation only made things worse and put him in everybody’s dog house after violating the “bro code.”

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However, Russell also had bright spots and proved why the Lakers didn’t make a mistake drafting him at No. 2 overall in 2015. Russell lit up the Brooklyn Nets for 39 points, tying a rookie team record and became the youngest player in NBA history to make over 120 threes in a season. To top it all off he ended the season being named on the NBA All-Rookie Second Team.

As the NBA and USA Basketball becomes more guard-oriented, things have started to work more in Russell’s favor. The fact that he’s 6-5 allows him to play off the ball at shooting guard at times and highlights part of his versatility. What’s more is that Russell has also can affect the game from the perimeter, slotting in as part of a three-point centric offense.

Playing for the Select Team now gives him an extra edge over most of his peers as Gregg Popovich, who will be head coach of Team USA in 2020, worked with Russell and spoke highly of him, applauding the 20-year-old’s smartness and creativity on the court.

As only maturing both on and off the court seemingly stand in his way, the hope would definitely be that Russell could be on Team USA in four years.

Julius Randle

Julius Randle had his rookie season taken away from him due to a broken leg in the first game of the 2014-15 season. Randle bounced back in a great way for his sophomore (pseudo-rookie) campaign though, averaging 11 points and 10 rebounds in just 28 minutes per game. Randle finished 10th in the NBA in rebounds per game and 15th in double-doubles for the season (35).

With the hiring of Luke Walton, the hope would be that Randle will fall into a Draymond Green type role. Obviously this is easier said than done because there is only one Green but it’s not impossible for Randle to get to that level.

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Both Randle and Green are tenacious rebounders, physical presences, and have better passing skills than most playing their position. Randle excels at starting the fast break after a rebound, although he tends to have tunnel vision.

The biggest wart in Randle’s game is his shooting, which separates the two. Randle shot just 27 percent from three last season, while Draymond shot 38.8. It’s worth noting, however, that Green shot 20.9 percent from deep in his first full season and worked to develop a more consistent jumper, specifically from deep. If Randle can follow suit, he could slot in alongside Green for USA Basketball as similar weapons.

Randle too earned the praise of Popovich for his work with the Select Team this year, saying that he loved the forward’s work ethic in addition to heaping other praise on the Kentucky product.

Brandon Ingram

The No. 2 overall pick in this year’s draft undoubtedly has the most potential on the team. The 6-9 forward from Duke has constantly been compared to Kevin Durant and there are some similarities. Both forwards are tall, skinny, and very skilled on the perimeter. Ingram also has very quick feet, can dribble like a guard, and looks like he’s going to hit just about every jump shot he attempts.

Ingram comes into this season with huge expectations and his performance in the Summer League shows the promise that Lakers fan have been waiting on. He dropped 12.2 points per game, though he shot only 41 percent from the field. The Kinston, NC native seemed to get better game by game, dropping 22 on the Jazz during the final game that he played in Vegas.

Ingram’s game fits perfectly with the run-and-gun system being played in the NBA today. Its not hard to see the incoming rookie playing in the All-Star Game in the next four years. With his skill set, he could easily average over 20 points per game sooner rather than later.

The only worry with Ingram playing in the Olympics would be that officials tend to let games get physical which wouldn’t work in Ingram’s favor because of his lack of muscle. However, the Lakers forward is already working to bulk up and get his frame more NBA-ready to where that could be less of a concern in four years.

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Other than that Ingram would be an ideal player for Team USA. There’s no such thing as too many scorers and his size will allow him to play both forward positions, which only works in his favor. Despite his age don’t be surprised to see Ingram reunited with his college coach again in Tokyo in 2020.