Duke basketball: Jayson Tatum must shoulder larger role for Team USA

Former Duke basketball wing Jayson Tatum (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Former Duke basketball wing Jayson Tatum (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) /

Former Duke basketball star Jayson Tatum needs to take on a bigger role with Team USA. 

It has not been the summer Team USA was looking for prior to the Olympic Games, and the Americans are going to need former Duke basketball star Jayson Tatum to take on a larger role in hopes of a gold medal.

After suffering back-to-back losses in exhibition games to Nigeria and Australia, Team USA had to deal with injuries and a handful of COVID-19 issues.

Washington Wizards star Bradley Beal and Detroit Pistons guard Jerami Grant were both placed in isolation due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols, and Beal will be unable to compete in the Olympics later this month while Grant has traveled with the team to Tokyo.

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Jayson Tatum had been dealing with a minor knee injury and was forced to miss an exhibition game while Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love had to withdraw from the team after not fully healing from a calf strain suffered during the NBA season.

Team USA replaced Beal and Love with Keldon Johnson and Javale McGee on its roster.

Team USA will need more from the Duke basketball superstar

Hours prior to departing for Tokyo, Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine was placed in COVID-19 isolation. His status for the Olympic Games is still unknown, although reports have surfaced saying Team USA is hopeful he will be able to compete.

The Americans are also awaiting the conclusion of the NBA Finals as Milwaukee Bucks duo Kris Middleton and Jrue Holliday as well as Phoenix Suns star Devin Booker are on the roster.

The NBA Finals could finish as soon as Tuesday night with the Bucks leading the series, 3-2.

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In his return from his knee injury, Jayson Tatum struggled in an exhibition against Spain with just six points on 3-of-10 shooting from the floor, missing all four of his 3-point field goals.

Tatum pulled in six rebounds, five assists, one steal, and one block in the comeback victory.

The former Blue Devil also struggled in the loss to Australia with eight points on 4-of-12 shooting from the field.

Team USA begins its quest for a gold medal on Sunday, July 25 against France at 8:00am EST in Group A of the men’s tournament.

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