Nearly 1,800 days will have passed between the U.S. men’s basketball team’s gold-medal game at the 2016 Summer Olympics and the tip-off of its first game at the 2020 Games in Tokyo. That’s a long time for hoops fans to wait and see Team USA in meaningful Olympic action. In its long-anticipated return, the home team stunk up its first two scrimmages to Nigeria and Australia. Though the squad, led by Kevin Durant, Damian Lillard and Jayson Tatum, got its act together for its remaining warm-up games, the crew hasn’t had that aura of dominance like past USA rosters.
Of course, that may all change now that Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday and Phoenix’s Devin Booker have joined the group following the NBA Finals. Newly crowned champ Holiday is the only person in this profile who played in the Playoffs beyond the first round. Who knows how much gas he has left after the intense six-game series? Doesn’t matter. Whatever minutes Holiday gets, he’ll give it his all on the floor.
The same goes for these four other guys going for gold, too. They give it 100% every night in the league. Suffice it to say, when these players put on their country’s jersey, we’re expecting a similar fire. And that intensity could translate into a good bit of movement in the card market, especially as we get into the medal rounds.
Jrue Holiday, USA
Holiday averaged 16.6 points and 9.3 assists in 41.5 minutes during the Finals. He hopped on a plane for Japan just hours after the celebratory parade in Milwaukee ended. Team USA’s first game is against France on July 25. We can’t imagine Holiday playing much in that one. When his number is called, though, we’re confident he’ll be the same facilitating, sneaky scorer we’ve grown used to this postseason. Holiday’s 2009 Topps Chrome raw rookie had an average sale of $46 back in April. It was up to $87.66 in July. Expect that upwards trend to continue as he starts grooving with Durant and Co. over the next few days.
Luka Doncic, Slovenia
We’re not saying Doncic needs the Olympic stage to get more credence in basketball circles. With a 2021 resumé that includes an All-Star Game start, a first-team All-NBA designation and a 35-point average in the 2021 Playoffs, the guy has more than earned his stripes. But showing out against global powers like Argentina and Spain can’t hurt the Dallas star. If anything, a few 25- or 30-point nights will reaffirm to collectors his position on the global scale. Of course, with some of his cards shaking out of the market slump — the last sale of his 2018 Donruss Optic RC was up nearly 48% since July 14 — the collecting world may have already gotten the memo.
Zach LaVine, USA
A COVID-19 scare had us tempering our expectations for this young Chicago Bull, but the fact that LaVine is re-joining Team USA gives us all the assurance we need. If he can get back to being that same assertive, 15/5 guy he was in the Argentina tune-up on July 13, watch out. We could be looking at one of the squad’s bright young stars. Should that happen, LaVine’s 2014 Prizm base (currently $250-260) might get the push it needs to reach $350 like it was back in late May.
Ricky Rubio, Spain
This is Rubio’s third time representing his native country in the Summer Games. Spain won the silver in ’08 and the bronze in ’16. Nothing is going to seem too big for the crafty, 30-year-old point guard. Spain takes on host country Japan on July 26 and Argentina on July 29. We aren’t expecting Rubio to stuff those box scores, but we aren’t going to ignore the fact that he had 10 games of 15+ points after the NBA All-Star break (compared to five before it) for Minnesota, either. There’s something left in his tank. When he proves it over the next week, his 2012 Prizm is the card that’ll likely most benefit in the hobby.
Keldon Johnson, USA
This guy has the defensive prowess, the motor and the talent to rise on the international stage. The Summer Games’ swallow-the-whistle-and-let’em-play approach to officiating is going to play right into Johnson’s aggressive style. Plus, being around standouts like Devin Booker can’t help but rub off on the young Spurs guard. And another thing—Johnson’s playing for his own head coach, Gregg Popovich, so that feeling of familiarity is there. For those reasons, we think the ride that his 2018 Prizm card is on now — the last three sales have averaged more than $89 — is only the beginning.
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