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DeMar DeRozan Deserves Spot on Team USA

By Manny Geraldo, 06/07/16, 5:30PM EDT

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In January, DeMar DeRozan was announced as one of the 30 finalists for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Men’s Team. At the time, he seemed an unlikely candidate to actually fill one of the coveted 12 spots on the official roster for the Olympics in 2016. Now, his chances are much higher.

NBA MVP Stephen Curry has withdrawn his name from Team USA, joining All-Stars Chris Paul, Anthony Davis, and Blake Griffin whom will also miss the games. LaMarcus Aldridge has also withdrawn his name from consideration and Team USA is still awaiting word on whether LeBron James will represent the US in the Olympics. The loss of Curry and Davis mean that two of the NBA's top ten scorers are unavailable. 

DeRozan is coming off his best season as a pro. He tied with Russell Westbrook as the NBA's eighth leading scorer last season, averaging 23.5 PPG. His three point shooting and free throw percentage were also the best of his career and the Raptors advanced past the first round of the playoffs for the first time in DeRozan's tenure. In the all-important contract year, DeRozan became a star and solidified himself as one of the best shooting guards in the NBA, and arguably the best two-guard in the Eastern Conference. 

The only shooting guard that is a near lock to make the squad is Klay Thompson. He's simply too good of a shooter to leave off the team. After Klay, DeRozan deserves a spot just as much as anyone else. 

The only shooting guard to average more points than DeRozan last season was James Harden, who ranked only second to Curry in points per game. But how will Harden's aversion to defense be met by Team USA Coach Mike Krzyzewski? And don't forget about Harden's turnover problem. This past season, he averaged a career-high 4.6 turnovers per game, led the NBA in turnovers with 374 and and broke the NBA record for the most turnovers in a single season in league history.

As the star of the Houston Rockets, the team must endure Harden's turnovers. But those turnovers are unacceptable to a USA team of All-Stars looking to bring home the gold medal. DeRozan averaged just over 2 turnovers a game.

After a career regular season where he ranked in the top five in the NBA in FT attempts and scoring in isolation, DeRozan is one of the elite shooting guards in the NBA and thus deserving of a spot on Team USA. USA Basketball plans to announce the 12-man roster by the end of June, and it will be a big mistake if he's left off the team.