Team USA: Olympic U-23 Roster That Would Rock David Stern's World

Maxwell Ogden@MaxwellOgdenCorrespondent IIIMay 31, 2012

Team USA: Olympic U-23 Roster That Would Rock David Stern's World

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    According to a recent report by Sports Illustrated, NBA commissioner David Stern and deputy commissioner Gary Silver will take a serious look at suggesting a change to Olympic basketball.

    Rather than have it be a free-for-all among the best in the game, the commish is looking to appease those who feel that younger guys should get their shot.

    In other words, he wants Olympic basketball to become a 23-and-under affair for the Team USA.  

    Rather than debate the potential ramifications of this move, let's contemplate what the 23-and-under roster would look like. From young stars to up-and-coming talents, this team could do some real damage.

    Legacies would be made, medals would find new meaning and the sport of basketball would grow.

    So, who's up for a change?

Point Guard: Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers

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    Position: Point Guard 

    Age: 20

    Height & Weight: 6'3" & 191 pounds

    The 2011 first overall draft choice and 2012 Rookie of the Year made waves when he declared he would not play for his birth country Australia in the London Olympics. This opens the door for Kyrie Irving to play for the U-23 Dream Team.

    Irving has already established himself as the best young point guard in the NBA. His combination of lock-down perimeter defense, crisp passing and an uncanny ability to create plays for himself and others would make the U.S. a favorite by itself. His shooting line of .469/.400/.872 is just icing on the cake.

    Season Averages: 21.49 PER, 18.5 PPG, 5.4 APG, 3.7 RPG, 1.1 SPG

Shooting Guard: Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder

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    Position: Guard 

    Age: 23

    Height & Weight6'3" & 195 pounds

    I think Russell Westbrook's passing is an overstated shortcoming. His average of 5.5 assists in 2012 is matched by averages of 8.0 in 2010 and 8.2 in 2011. 

    At the Olympics, however, Westbrook would be a much better fit at the 2.

    Kyrie Irving is an excellent ball-handler and facilitator who would be able to work alongside Russell Westbrook both in transition and the half-court. This would create endless opportunities for Westbrook to work off ball screens and attack the basket.

    Season Averages: 23.00 PER, 24.6 PPG, 5.5 APG, 4.6 RPG, 1.7 SPG

Small Forward: Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder

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    Position: Small Forward 

    Age: 23

    Height & Weight6'9" & 235 pounds

    To hold Kevin Durant off this list would be a crime. It would also be detrimental to what could go down as the 23-and-under Dream Team.

    Kevin Durant is the best scorer in the NBA, one of the league's best crunch-time performers and a dominant defender due to his length and quickness.

    He would be the unquestioned leader of this talented team and could finally work next to Russell Westbrook in a way that does not force one of the two into the role of primary ball-handler.

    Season Averages: 26.26 PER, 28.0 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 3.5 APG, 1.3 SPG, 1.2 BPG

Power Forward: Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves

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    Position: Power Forward 

    Age: 23

    Height & Weight: 6'10" & 260 pounds

    Kevin Love is the best young power forward in the NBA, and that guy from Lob City isn't even close in terms of all-around ability. So let's move on.

    Love would bring a dominant presence to the glass for a U.S. team that is bound to face larger lineups.

    The former UCLA Bruin will offset their presence by crashing the boards on defense, lighting it up on offense and working tirelessly on both ends.

    Season Averages: 25.41 PER, 26.0 PPG, 13.3 RPG, 2.0 APG, 37.2 3PT%

Center: DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento Kings

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    Position: Center

    Age: 21

    Height & Weight: 6'11" & 270 pounds

    DeMarcus Cousins was as dominant as any player in the NBA this past season, owning the interior on a nightly basis. At the Olympic level, expect nothing different.

    Cousins can bang and bruise in the post, penetrate off the dribble and knock down shots from the perimeter. He can also block shots, poke balls loose and drive opponents out of the paint with his presence alone. Cousins can do it all.

    As a member of this under-23 team, Cousins would play a major role in setting the tone down low. His physicality would certainly offset the finesse game that Spain would bring to the table.

    Season Averages: 21.72 PER, 18.1 PPG, 11.0 RPG, 1.6 APG, 1.5 SPG, 1.2 BPG

Bench: Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers

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    Position: Power Forward

    Age: 23

    Height & Weight: 6'10" & 251 pounds

    Say what you will about Blake Griffin, but the guy is great at changing the pace of a game. Between his monster slams and signature stare downs, Griffin's simply being in proximity keeps opponents on their toes.

    Who wouldn't want to see him work with Kyrie Irving after this past season with Chris Paul?

    Season Averages: 23.50 PER, 20.7 PPG, 10.9 RPG, 3.2 APG, 0.7 BPG

Bench: Eric Gordon, New Orleans Hornets

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    Position: Shooting Guard

    Age: 23

    Height & Weight: 6'3" & 215 pounds

    Eric Gordon made quite the impression at the World Basketball Championships in 2010, shining with 18 points against Greece and 21 against Tunisia. What may have been most impressive of all was Gordon's perimeter defense, as he constantly came up with steals and disrupted the flow of opposing offenses.

    Gordon would play the same role in 2012.

    2011 Season Averages: 18.56 PER, 22.3 PPG, 4.4 APG, 2.9 RPG, 1.3 SPG

Bench: James Harden, Oklahoma City Thunder

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    Position: Shooting Guard

    Age: 22

    Height & Weight: 6'5" & 220 pounds

    James Harden is a prime-time scorer who can light it up from distance and attack the basket off the dribble. This is important for Team USA, as they must stretch the floor to open up the flood gates for their dominant big men to go to work.

    Harden would show the world what OKC fans already know: he is just as good as Durant and Westbrook.

    Season Averages: 21.13 PER, 16.8 PPG, 4.1 APG, 3.7 RPG, 1.0 SPG

Bench: Greg Monroe, Detroit Pistons

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    Position: Center

    Age: 21

    Height & Weight: 6'11" & 250 pounds

    Greg Monroe would offer Team USA some much-needed depth in the frontcourt. DeMarcus Cousins' season average of 4.0 fouls per game are evidence enough of how important a role Monroe would play. 

    As for what Monroe would bring to the team, expect solid back-to-the-basket scoring, brilliant interior passing and solid defense in the post. He would certainly find a well-deserved coming out party.

    Season Averages: 22.09 PER, 15.4 PPG, 9.7 RPG, 2.3 APG, 1.3 SPG, 0.7 BPG

Bench: Brandon Jennings, Milwaukee Bucks

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    Position: Point Guard

    Age: 22

    Height & Weight: 6'1" & 169 pounds

    Brandon Jennings doesn't play the same brand of basketball as Kyrie Irving. While he can fill up the stat sheet with assists, he's much more comfortable with lighting up the scoreboard and coming up in the clutch.

    Unfortunately for Jennings, there may not be as many clutch opportunities on a team like this.

    Nevertheless, his big-time scoring and flashy passing would set the tone for quite a few games.

    Season Averages: 18.46 PER, 19.1 PPG, 5.5 APG, 3.4 RPG, 1.6 SPG

Bench: Kenneth Faried, Denver Nuggets

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    Position: Power Forward

    Age: 22

    Height & Weight6'8" & 228 pounds

    Kenneth Faried put on a rebounding clinic against the Los Angeles Lakers, averaging 10.0 per game over the span of a seven-game series. This was especially impressive considering Faried played just 27.4 minutes per game.

    Almost as impressive as his 7.7 rebounds in just 22.5 minutes per game during the regular season. This kid would be pivotal in controlling the interior for Team USA.

    Season Averages: 21.94 PER, 10.2 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 1.0 BPG, 0.7 SPG

Bench: Klay Thompson, Golden State Warriors

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    Position: Shooting Guard

    Age: 22

    Height & Weight6'7" & 205 pounds

    Every team needs a three-point shooter to spread the floor and that is exactly what Klay Thompson offers. His rookie-best 111 three-pointers is proof of his ability beyond the arc. 

    Don't fool yourself, though, folks. Thompson is more than capable of creating for himself off the dribble and could put up big points over short stretches. 

    Season Averages: 14.97 PER, 12.5 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 2.0 APG, 41.4 3PT%