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Zach LaVine In Covid Protocol, Will Miss Flight To Tokyo

And it’s still unclear if he’s going to be able to play in the Olympics

Spain v United States
 LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JULY 18: Zach LaVine #5 of the United States dunks against Spain during an exhibition game at Michelob ULTRA Arena ahead of the Tokyo Olympic Games on July 18, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The United States defeated Spain 83-76.
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Team USA has had a lot of issues to deal with so far, so what’s one more?

Zach LaVine is in the Covid protocol and did not make the team flight to Tokyo. However, there is some optimism since USA Basketball repeated the “out of an abundance of caution” they applied to Jerami Grant, who did make the flight.

We certainly hope he’ll be able to play because the US could use the backcourt help. However, if he can’t, we’d still like to see Zion Williamson called up. First, he is supremely athletic. Second, you don’t need to draw up plays for him because he can make things happen by himself. Third, there’s not a player in the world who can match up with him. And fourth, he’s immensely intelligent and is capable of playing point guard, which is amazing considering he’s 6-6 and 285.

Our pitch to him would be this: first, we really need you. Second, the role we want you to play is as a defensive stopper. It’s too late to incorporate you into the offense very much, but we want you to focus on rebounding and if you can put it back in, so much the better.

He’d be a great fit at any time, but with such a tight schedule, his natural abilities would let him do things that no one else could absent a clearly defined role.

Just as a side note, we’re hardly virologists, but a number of athletes have either been put in a temporary protocol or ruled out for the Olympics for Covid-related reasons. We’re curious about how many of them have been vaccinated. It’s less of an issue in one sense for basketball because these guys are already at the top of their games. Going to the Olympics is an honor but not the peak of their careers.

If you’re a gymnast or sprinter or swimmer though, this the peak. We’d expect a high vaccination rate for elite athletes who are aiming for Tokyo but there may be complicating factors we don't understand.