Monday, September 13, 2010

USA Basketball FIBA Gold Medalists

Congrats to Russell Westbrook and Kevin Love for their big roles in the US' gold medal in the FIBA World Championship.  Westbrook emerged as an international revelation this tournament as his smothering defense and lightning fast forays into the lane were major contributors to the squad's success.  Kevin Love was a tireless worker in the lane and Coach K called his number off the bench more often than even 7 footer Tyson Chandler.

Overall, it was exciting to see our B team, the supposedly same group of "2nd tier" players who had failed in '98, '02 and '06 (- I don't understand why everyone was saying that it was a 16 year drought, as if the tournament was every year), play together and play hard to bring home the gold.  While other countries didn't bring in many of their NBA stars this time, we didn't have a single player from the '08 Olympic team and we suffered the loss of our top 3 big men pre-tournament (Amare, David Lee, B Lopez).  Heck, Odom was our starting center.

So Coach K did a great job of finding the right players (instead of the Iversons and Marburys) and persuading them to buy into his plan.  Kevin Durant obviously cemented his name as a bonafide world class superstar in the caliber of Kobe, Wade and Lebron this summer and he should be starting by 2012.  Who else will be going?

USA 2012 Olympic 12 Man Roster Prediction

Chris Paul
Derrick Rose

Dwayne Wade
Kobe Bryant

Deron Williams
Russell Westbrook

Kevin Durant

Lebron James
Carmelo Anthony

Chris Bosh
Carlos Boozer

Dwight Howard

Likely Starters: Paul, Kobe, Lebron, Durant, Howard

If it were me, I'd leave an aging Kobe and wannabe-thug Carmelo Anthony behind and bring in some specialized role players.  Kobe might not even want to spend his summer playing when he's 34.  Instead, I'd bring in a specialized 3 point shooter, like Eric Gordon, to be a zone buster.  By 2012, Durant will be a better scorer than Kobe or Carmelo anyway (if he isn't already).
Instead of Carmelo, I'd rather call in Iguodala.  His focus on lockdown defense and rebounding made his game (minus his truly atrocious outside shooting) invaluable to our '10 international success.

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