The United States men’s national basketball team has been granted an extension, which now gives them until July 7 to finalize their roster for the 2012 London Olympic Games.
Injuries to national team stalwarts Dwight Howard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Derrick Rose and Chauncey Billups have chairman Jerry Colangelo and coach Mike Krzyzewski scrambling to put together a solid roster that is built for international play.
With 12 possible roster spots up for grabs between 18 hopeful members, the competition is certainly going to be fierce. Let’s take a look at which players are likely to rise up and make the cut.
PG: Chris Paul
SG: Kobe Bryant
SF: Kevin Durant
PF: LeBron James
C: Tyson Chandler
Starting at the one, Chris Paul is perhaps the best point guard alive and will easily earn the starting job on this team. He can run an offense like no other and that is the most important aspect of international point guard play.
Kobe will start at the two over Dwyane Wade because of his (slightly) superior shooting ability and three-point range. He’s also one of the senior players on the squad and would not take kindly to being a backup.
Durant is the perfect international swingman and led Team USA to a World Championship in 2010 from the position. He’s a lock to start here.
LeBron has to be in the starting lineup, even though he would be playing out of position at the four. Against smaller international competition, it will make little difference, plus it will give him a chance to develop his post game even further.
Dwight would normally start at the five, but Chandler gets the nod as the Defensive Player of the Year now that DH12 is out for the summer.
PG: Deron Williams, Russell Westbrook
SG: Dwyane Wade
SF: Carmelo Anthony, Rudy Gay*
PF: Kevin Love, Chris Bosh*
C: Anthony Davis
The two point guards are both excellent players and having a number of different options in the backcourt for situational use is important.
Wade is going to be the sixth man on this roster and will ignite the team off the bench.
‘Melo makes sense as a scorer to spell KD, and Gay could potentially play some PF if he makes the cut.
Love is a rebounding machine with three-point range and seems born to play the international game. Bosh makes sense for his size and decent jumper as well, but his injury means he isn’t certain to be healthy in time for the Olympics.
Davis is the most inexperienced player on the team, but they need a backup center and he’s the only suitable one in the pool.