Team USA 2012 Preview: Who Makes The Cut?
Team USA Basketball met today in Las Vegas to begin preparations for the approaching Olympic Games in London, beginning July 27. Within two days, Jerry Colangelo and Coach K are expected to have made their decision on the final 12-man roster that will be competing. After injuries to Dwight Howard, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh, and Lamar Odom’s choice to take himself out of the fold, fifteen of the best basketball players on the planet remain. There are, by my analysis, nine ‘locks’ to make the team, which means we have six men vying for the last three openings. Who should make the team? Leave an answer in the comments.
PG – Chris Paul
- CP3 sees the floor better than any player in the world and should be the obvious starting point guard. His shooting skills and floor general abilities are perfectly suited for the international game.
SG – Kobe Bryant
- Any detractors of Mr. Bryant should reference the Gold Medal game against Spain in ’08.
SF – Kevin Durant
- The best young player in the world will likely be the leader of Team USA for the next decade or so.
PF – LeBron James
- His size and athleticism will be a huge benefit to a team that is somewhat shallow on the front line.
C – Tyson Chandler
- The only true center on the roster. Let’s hope he doesn’t twist his ankle.
THE LOCKS (In order of importance/playing time)
PF/C – Kevin Love
- With only one seven footer on the team, Kevin Love is going to spend a lot of time playing the 5. I don’t think this is necessarily bad, as the international game has proven to be played at a faster pace with more of a premium on three-point shooting. What Love gives up in defense he will more than make up for in scoring ability and rebounding.
SF/PF – Carmelo Anthony
- Carmelo is a proven international player, and having his starting spot taken by young KD will likely inspire him to play at a very high level.
PG – Deron Williams
- He is a great scorer and will probably be trusted to handle the ball more than Russell Westbrook while CP3 gets some rest. Williams is a superb shooter and will be a significant part of the rotation.
PG/SG – Russell Westbrook
- I don’t think anyone in the world can keep up with him. Furthermore, I expect Coach K to be the perfect coach to help Westbrook harness his potential and find a balance between playing with speed and with control. Russ is my sleeper for the guy-who-might-break-out-off-the-bench-and-take-over-for-a-game guy.
THE FINAL THREE SPOTS
PF – Blake Griffin
- Griffin is probably a lock to be on the team, and he should be. Any time he is on the floor, the defense will have to focus so much on keeping him from Mosgov-ing that the shooters will have extra space to operate. He may not have a post game or enough skills on defense, but Blake Griffin is going to provide at least one amazing highlight that will go down in history alongside Vince Carter dunking over that one dude. I can’t wait.
SG – Eric Gordon
- I love me some Eric Gordon. He is far more athletic than James Harden and will be a great sparkplug off the bench when Coach K needs it. This pick assumes he is healthy, which he seems to be.
PF/C – The ‘Brow
- Truthfully, this final spot could go to any of the three remaining men, but I would prefer to see it go to Anthony Davis. Team USA has depth at every position except center, so if an injury occurred to Chandler or Love we would actually need Davis to come through. His sprained ankle is apparently a minor injury as Davis will be reporting to Las Vegas today. Furthermore, The ‘Brow will likely be a staple of Team USA for years to come, so why not bring him on board to get some valuable experience while also being there in case someone gets hurt? Regardless of the decision on the 12th man, their playing time is going to be Laettner-esque. A choice for “The ‘Brow” is a choice for the future of ‘Merica.
THE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP-ERS
SF – Rudy Gay
- The problem for Gay is that with LeBron, Durant, and Carmelo playing virtually the same position, there just isn’t anything he would really contribute, except keeping the bench warm I suppose.
SF – Andre Iguodala
- AI is one of the best wing defenders in the world, but unfortunately would not provide the team with much more than that if chosen. Eric Gordon is a player with much more potential.
SG/SF – James Harden
- Some say he plays an “international style,” akin to Manu Ginobili. His shooting and fast break abilities will be useful in the 2014 FIBA World Championships.