Dwight Howard's Injury Creates Hole at Center for Olympic Basketball Team

Ethan Sherwood StraussNBA Lead WriterApril 20, 2012

BEIJING - AUGUST 24:  (L-R)  Dwight Howard #11 and Kobe Bryant #10 of the United States wait to receive the gold medal after defeating Spain in the men's basketball final during Day 16 of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games at the Beijing Olympic Basketball Gymnasium on August 24, 2008 in Beijing, China.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Dwight Howard is done for the year according to ESPN's Ric Bucher, due to a herniated disk in his back.

I apologize for subconsciously doubting the seriousness of the injury and turn immediately to its implications—implications that have nothing to do with the Orlando Magic. This is because Orlando's season has been done in all but technicality.

For them, Dwight's departure is the bullet in the head of a maimed, doomed horse. And the quick equine death may prove a welcome respite from media beating the dead horse of Howard vs. Van Gundy. 

Now, the 2012 Olympic team is different.

They could win something of note. Also, the dynamics are quite intriguing here because there is such a dearth of available American big-man talent (keep in mind, forward-center combo LaMarcus Aldridge is also out with a season-ending injury).

Frighteningly, Spain currently has two (related) centers who would probably start for Team USA were they not so inconveniently born elsewhere. So what are Jerry Colangelo's options? 


Tyson Chandler

In a strange turn of events, Tyson Chandler is the best bet to start for America. The 2010 world champion has certainly earned the honor, but he's a couple seasons removed from getting swapped for Emeka Okafor.

When Chandler was marooned in Charlotte, he was thought to be on an unabating downslope by everyone save for Mark Cuban. And then, after a brilliant championship season with the Mavericks, Cuban shrugged as New York signed Tyson away.

This has been an incredible rise to top-20 player status for Tyson, so much so that it is strange to see him start for an American Olympic team while it makes perfect sense for him to start for an American Olympic team.   


Andrew Bynum

Team USA certainly has to be interested, but the ascendent Andrew Bynum once told the Los Angeles Times

"It's definitely something that's a great honor to do and all that, but for me right now, the health of my knees and stuff like that—I don't know if long summers are the best thing for me."

This was as recent as January. Since then, he was left off Team USA's list of 20 finalists. This makes Andrew Bynum a longshot, despite these desperate circumstances.   


Roy Hibbert

He actually plays for Jamaica. Surprising, no? He has represented the U.S. national team before choosing the green and yellow, and I'm making inquiries as to what his international status is and could be.


Greg Monroe

Ostensibly a power forward due to skill set, but I could see this happening if Chandler gets hurt. Monroe can certainly rebound and score deftly. 


DeMarcus Cousins

The Security Council might veto this, but I'd watch every minute of every game. An obvious longshot, but worth listing for the sake of listing. 


Anthony Davis

Certainly a win for Davis' future Team USA development, and he's the shot-blocker they might just need in 2012. He's also 19. If Bynum and Hibbert aren't options, this is my choice.

Last week, Team USA's Craig Miller told me that Anthony Davis might be, of course, "a bit young" for all this. New circumstances today, though.

A child shall lead them? Or at least, play the role of Christian Laettner?