Team USA Olympic women’s basketball roster projection: Our picks for the 12 players going to Paris

The Olympics kick off in 80 days, and Team USA’s women’s basketball roster is still TBD. The final pre-roster-announcement training camp was held in Cleveland during the Final Four in April, and whispers are that the final roster could hit by early June.

With the depth of talent in the U.S., the selection committee has the challenging job of putting together the best 12-person team — not just the 12 best players — because this is about Team USA winning its eighth consecutive gold medal and 10th overall. Chemistry and filling specific needs are key.

The committee tends to bookend the rosters with veterans, who might not play as much as they did a cycle or two before, and one or two young players, who also aren’t likely to be high-usage contributors but are seen as the future of the program.

In between, there are “locks,” the players who are the best in the world. Then, there is the pool of players who fill a need on the roster and have also been consistent performers at the training camps Team USA hosts throughout the year.

Despite how straightforward that might seem, there’s no exact science for the committee. One of Team USA’s biggest challenges is that their depth changes the training camp roster from camp to camp. Elsewhere, countries have more of the same personnel year over year, meaning some nations coming into the Paris Games have had the same core — growing up together, playing together — for years. For Team USA, finding a proper personnel grouping is particularly important because there won’t be a long runway for the final 12 to jell and deliver on expectations.

When I began making my projection, I looked at previous rosters, and my eyes were particularly drawn to the 2016 Olympic team. At that time, the Minnesota Lynx were dominant, in the middle of their run of four titles in seven seasons. The 2016  Olympic roster was one-third Lynx members: Maya Moore, Seimone Augustus, Lindsay Whalen and Sylvia Fowles. Those were certainly four of the best players in the country, but that group specifically had chemistry that brought players together on and off the floor. Considering the player pool and the current state of the WNBA, I think the 2024 roster will have flavors of 2016, just substituting the Las Vegas Aces for the Lynx.

Eleven weeks out from the 2024 Olympic Games, this is my prediction for the roster.

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The vets

Diana Taurasi: Taurasi will be 42 at the start of the Games and appearing in her sixth Olympics. She has been a consistent member at Team USA training camps not just through this most recent Olympic cycle but over the last two decades. At the Olympic qualifying tournament in February, only Ariel Atkins and Jackie Young averaged fewer minutes than Taurasi, but at this point, her value as a leader is unmatched, and the only way she isn’t on this roster is if she turned down an invite (and it’s hard to imagine that).

Brittney Griner: In April 2023, after Griner returned home after her 10-month detainment in Russia, she said the only time she’d play overseas again was in the Olympics. Griner, 33, likely will get that chance this summer as she’s still one of the best centers in the game.

The locks

A’ja Wilson: At 27, Wilson is currently the best player in the world. (The best counterargument is the next player on this list.) Her ability to get a bucket at will, outrebound anyone, even if there’s a size differential, and defend at an elite level makes her a no-brainer. In her second Olympics, she’ll be relied upon to be even more of a leader and to cultivate team chemistry. If Wilson can help bring some of the togetherness, camaraderie and joy to Team USA in the same way she has for the Aces, that could be key.

Breanna Stewart: Outside of Taurasi, no one on this year’s roster will have more Team USA international experience than Stewart. The 29-year-old has two Olympic gold medals, three World Cup gold medals and a rare silver medal from the 2015 Pan American Games. Plus, she has offseason overseas experience in China, Russia and Turkey, which helps her in international competitions. Stewart’s versatility as an offensive threat is undeniable, and she’s a rangy defender who can guard any position. Another obvious selection.

Chelsea Gray: As the WNBA’s Point Gawd, Gray, 31, is the likely starting PG. She didn’t travel for the Olympic qualifying tournament as she still wasn’t cleared for five-on-five at that point during her recovery from a foot injury she suffered during the 2023 WNBA Finals. She was good to go for the Cleveland camp, so if Gray is healthy, she should be on this roster as the lead floor general.

Napheesa Collier: As one of the youngest players on the 2021 Olympic roster, Collier was brought along to gain senior team international experience. She played fewer than four minutes a game in Tokyo, but in her second Olympic appearance, expect her to play a much larger role. Collier, 27, has established herself as one of the most dominant players in the WNBA and as the focal point for Cheryl Reeve’s Lynx. She was one of the best performers in the Olympic qualifying tournament, playing more than 23 minutes a game (second most behind Stewart).

Alyssa Thomas: The 32-year-old could make her first Olympic appearance, and I feel confident she’ll be on the final roster. Reeve brought Thomas back into the Team USA fold after she had been out of the pool for years. Thomas brings a unique skill set and a decade of WNBA and overseas experience. She’s universally respected across the league for being a grinder and student of the game. While she wouldn’t be a veteran in the sense of her Olympic or Team USA international experience, she would bring a veteran presence alongside Taurasi and Griner.

Breanna Stewart and A'ja Wilson

Breanna Stewart and A’ja Wilson will lead the U.S. women’s basketball team to Paris on its quest for an eighth consecutive Olympic gold medal. (Mike Lawrie / Getty Images)

In the fold

Jewell Loyd: Loyd, 30, made her Olympic debut in Tokyo, but her involvement with Team USA goes back more than a decade. She was a member of the youth national team that won gold at the U17 World Cup in 2010 and later two golds with the senior team (2018, 2022) as well as a gold medal with the 3×3 team (2014 World Cup). She’s a dynamic and efficient scorer. Of the players who appeared in all three games during the Olympic qualifying tournament, she was the second leading scorer despite playing the fourth-fewest minutes of all players.

Kelsey Plum: At 29, Plum is playing the best basketball of her career, and that has been on full display through this Olympic cycle. She won gold with the  Team USA 3×3 team in Tokyo and used that as a launching point for two WNBA All-Star seasons. In Belgium at the Olympic qualifying tournament, she led the team with 4.7 assists per game.

Jackie Young: Rounding out the Aces’ core for Team USA will be Young. Like Plum, she’s a reigning 3×3 gold medalist who got a taste of the Olympics in Tokyo. Young, 26, is another 3-point threat (45 percent from distance in the WNBA last season) who hits the boards well, sets up teammates and could be a pesky perimeter defender. With the roster’s size and forward-heavy presence among the veterans and locks, Team USA might prioritize perimeter players in these spots.

The youngins

Aliyah Boston: Since 2004, the Olympic rosters have included either that summer’s WNBA Rookie of the Year or the previous season’s WNBA Rookie of the Year. (We’ll count Collier’s 2019 ROY for the 2021 roster.) This summer, it might have both. Boston, 22, is the reigning WNBA Rookie of the Year, who was also named an All-Star. With such a stacked front line ahead of her, Boston likely won’t get a ton of minutes in France, but that’s not really the point. By gaining Olympic experience, Boston sets the table to become the featured big-in-waiting behind Griner, Wilson and Stewart when they depart the team.

Caitlin Clark: There’s no doubt that whether Clark is on or off the roster will make headlines. Putting Clark on the roster could be a polarizing decision for the committee because she hasn’t been in a senior team camp yet, and that goes against the “pay your dues with Team USA” ideal. Rostering Clark could also be seen as a bold move, specifically because of the previous shocking snubs we’ve seen (Candace Parker in 2016, Nneka Ogwumike in 2021). Although Ariel Atkins not making her second Olympics, or Kahleah Copper or Sabrina Ionescu not making their first might not rise up to the Parker-Ogwumike level, this still would be a pretty interesting decision.

Clark hasn’t played in a regular-season WNBA game yet, but it must give the committee some level of comfort that she appears to be clicking with her Indiana Fever squad exceptionally well so far. Plus, it would help that her fellow young player on the Team USA roster would be Boston, a Fever teammate. Clark would unquestionably bring attention to Team USA just as she did to the college game and to the WNBA already — the committee has to know that. She also could be a useful player in key spots for Team USA as a switch-up point guard and a 3-point specialist.



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(Top photos of Caitlin Clark, A’ja Wilson and Brittney Griner: Gregory Shamus, Ethan Miller, Mike Lawrie / Getty Images)

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