Saturday, July 7, 2012

The final countdown: picking Team USA ( CSNwashington)

Back in April when the first wave of defections off the USA Basketball roster took place, I took a stab at projecting the final men's basketball Olympic roster.

Now that Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Derrick Rose have joined Dwight Howard and LaMarcus Aldridge on the sidelines, another projection is required. Since the actual 12-man roster will be revealed during a televised announcement on Saturday night, said final projection comes now.

For starters, here's the way I saw things nearly three months ago..
Forward: Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, Kevin Durant, LeBron James
Guard: Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade, Russell Westbrook, Deron Williams
Center: Tyson Chandler, Kevin Love
Scratch Rose (knee) and Wade (upcoming knee surgery) from the roster along with Bosh, who suffered an abdominal injury during the Miami Heat's run to the NBA title. Everyone else is good to go. Team USA is therefore loaded in the backcourt and on the wings, but light inside and could use another perimeter shooter.
The final three spots come down to six players: Blake Griffin, Andre Iguodala, Rudy Gay, Eric Gordon, James Harden and Anthony Davis, the last two added to the main core after the spate of bumps and bruises (and worse). Though any combination headed to London would not be surprising, let's break it down into the likely position battles...

Backcourt, Gordon vs. Harden...A career 37 percent shooter from beyond the 3-point arc, Gordon is an obvious fit especially in the international game. Obviously, the likes of Bryant, Love and Williams have deep range, but only Durant compares to the four-year guard as a pure shooter. Harden has familiarity with two already on the team - his Thunder teammates Durant and Westbrook . The crafty bearded one has shown the ability to blend in as a role player, a nice niche on a team loaded with alpha males. Of the various duels, I see this pair making it together over the others duos, but...advantage, Gordon.

Small forward, Gay vs. Iguodala...If Coach K wants another wing scorer, the Grizzlies top gunner is the call. If the feeling is the roster lacks a defensive presence on the perimeter, the 76ers star gets the nod. On a team with Durant, Bryant, Anthony not to mention James and a host of leading scorer candidates on any given night (not counting Chandler), offense is not an issue. Seems clear if it's a true head-to-head, the pick should be the guy best equipped when it comes to stopping others from scoring...advantage, Iguodala.

Inside force, Griffin vs. Davis...Considering only Chandler and Love classify as true big men, it's seems like a lock one of these two make the final cut. It's just not the one you would expect. Yes, Griffin's NBA profile as a ferocious dunker makes the Poster Child a nightly highlight real fixture and one reportsuggests his spot among the final 12 is secure. That's fine, but I'd go with the shot blocking kid with the famous unibrow. Even if Davis does not score a single point, his presence as a defender and rebounder outweighs anything Griffin, inconsistent in both of those areas, is likely to contribute. Unless the Kentucky product's injured ankle is worse than expected...advantage, Davis.

Ben Standig blogs about the Redskins, Wizards, Hoyas and the D.C. area college basketball scene for CSNwashington. You can reach him by email at, follow him on Twitter @BenStandig and catch his musings at the D.C. Sportalist.

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