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Gregg Popovich explains why Kevin Love made Team USA

Speaking to reporters, USA men's national basketball coach Gregg Popovich explained why Kevin Love made the Olympics roster.

CLEVELAND — When it comes to Kevin Love's selection to the USA men's national basketball roster for the Tokyo Olympics, Gregg Popovich will admit that the Cleveland Cavaliers forward is hardly coming off a stellar season.

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But that doesn't mean Love won't be counted in Team USA's quest for a fourth consecutive gold medal.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Popovich, who is coaching this year's men's national team in Tokyo, was asked about Love's polarizing selection. And while the San Antonio Spurs head coach didn't dispute the notion that Love is the one player on his roster coming off a poor NBA season, he also pointed to the five-time All-Star's shooting and rebounding abilities, as well as his experience in international play, as reasons why he makes for a good fit.

"First of all, he's been there before. It gives us a player that's been through it," Popovich said. "And his skill set is such that he can rebound, he can step out as a [center] and shoot the three. And that really gives us another tool that we can use. 

"You're right, we all know he didn't have a great year. But he's worked diligently to get his body ready for this."

It might not take long for Love's value to be realized.

In its first game in group play in Tokyo on July 25, Team USA will face France, who is led by the reigning NBA Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert. A 7-foot-1 center with a 7-foot-9 wingspan, Gobert's defensive impact is only amplified in international play, where he has the ability to camp out in the paint due to the lack of the NBA's defensive three seconds rule.

As a result, don't be surprised to see Love playing center against France, as his three-point shooting ability could help lure Gobert out of the paint. Popovich indicated as much, specifically noting Love's matchup against Gobert as something that made him an attractive player for Team USA.

"He wanted to do it badly and we have a need for his skills so we thought he was a perfect person to play against people like Gobert to get them out of the lane," Popovich said. "Spreading the court is very important and depending on what happens in a game like that, he could be very valuable."