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NBA loud links: Team USA Olympic Basketball: Roster assessment and upcoming exhibition schedule

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Which players should start for this summer's Team USA Men's Olympic squad? Also, a look at Team USA's exhibition schedule.

Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports

As Team USA's Olympic opener versus China approaches, a national collection steeped in parity currently prepares for the celebrated Rio stage. With ten fresh faces joining Olympic veterans Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Durant, starting positions are within each players' grasp. For departing National Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski, his third-- and final -- Olympiad iteration may be the most difficult to assess from a talent standpoint.

When examining Team USA's roster, only Kevin Durant figures to be a unanimous lock within the starting lineup. Though Kyrie Irving and Klay Thompson have the inside track as starting back-court, Kyle Lowry, Jimmy Butler and DeMar Derozan cannot be discounted.

Meanwhile, in the front-court, Paul George, Carmelo Anthony, Draymond Green, DeMarcus Cousins and DeAndre Jordan all sport realistic hopes of joining Durant in the opening group. With a myriad of All-NBA stars opting to forgo this summer's Olympics, training camp and a five-game exhibition schedule should allow Team USA's best available blend of on-court efficiency to emerge.

Here is an early prediction of what Team USA's depth chart may be come August 6.

  • Point Guard: Kyrie Irving/ Kyle Lowry/ Jimmy Butler
  • Shooting Guard: Klay Thompson/ Jimmy Butler/ DeMar DeRozan
  • Small Forward: Kevin Durant/ Paul George/ DeMar DeRozan/ Harrison Barnes
  • Power Forward: Draymond Green/ Carmelo Anthony/ Paul George
  • Center: DeMarcus Cousins/ DeAndre Jordan/ Draymond Green
When deciding upon a most effective lineup, Irving, Thompson and Durant make sense from the wing due to optimal floor-spacing capabilities. Up front, Green -- a pesky defender and versatile two-way performer -- and Cousins give Team USA its greatest two-way potency --while allowing veteran Anthony to focus on a scoring-oriented sixth man role.

Time will tell, however, if Coach K opts to start three-time Olympic Medalist Anthony on an inexperienced roster due to his wealth of international savvy.

On paper, Team USA's only glaring hole is lack of point-guard depth. Although, with Jimmy Butler's increased play-making wares, this might only be an on-paper issue.

While some have compared 2016's U.S. group to the star-crossed 2004 Larry Brown-led Bronze Medal unit,  that is an unjust observation. With the exception of Harrison Barnes, Team USA possesses underrated versatility and depth. The roster is loaded with scoring, play-making and perhaps the National Teams' best defensive collection in the past four Olympics.

Even without LeBron James, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Blake Griffin and others, expect a favored U.S. Men's Olympic Team to capture gold.

Along their path, here's a look at Team USA's five-game exhibition schedule.

Argentina— July 22 in Las Vegas
China — July 24 in Los Angeles (Staples Center)
China — July 26 in Oakland (Oracle Arena)
Venezuela — July 29 in Chicago (United Center)
Nigeria — Aug. 1 in Houston (Toyota Center)

Team USA has won 17 consecutive contests since falling to Argentina during the semi-finals of 2004's Athens Olympics.

Other notable news around the association includes:

The affable curmudgeon Gregg Popovich is set to take over as Team USA's Head Coach.

Greg Popovich will take over for Mike Krzyzewski following this Olympic tournament.

Mexico City to host two regular-season NBA contests in January.

Mexico City Arena will host two regular-season contests when the Phoenix Suns take on Dallas and San Antonio January 12 and 14.

Los Angeles Clippers sign forward Brandon Bass.

Bass, who played last season with the Lakers, won't have to get used to new rims.

Jahlil Okafor may be on the move to Boston.

According to league sources, the Celtics have shown keen interest in pairing Okafor with newly acquired Al Horford.

2011 NBA Champion Jason "Jet" Terry to not be re-signed by Houston.

Former champion and sixth-man award winner Jason Terry will be looking for a new basketball home next season.

NBA.com's Blogtable discusses which entering rookie will eventually find stardom.

Will it be Ben Simmons, Brandon Ingram, Jaylen Brown or perhaps Dragan Bender? NBA.com's blogtable theorizes which 2016 draftee will make it big.

NewsOK asks if Spanish import Alex Abrines will be the next Rudy Fernandez.

NewsOk's Barry Tramel explores the parallels between euro-stars Alex Abrines and Rudy Fernandez.