Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Hold on a second. Before we compare this team to the 2012 team, we're going to have to figure out which six guys are going to be cut from the list of 18.
Let's talk mainstays from the 2008 Redeem Team. Since Derrick Rose is out, I'm going to have Chris Paul slide into Jason Kidd's starting role as point guard, with defensive anchor Kobe Bryant as his backcourt mate. Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James' combination of scoring, passing, and overall starpower make them no-brainers. Deron Williams is in too, along with Chris Bosh (big men who can knock down jumpers and pass are significantly more valuable at the international level).
Also, I don't think Dwyane Wade is going to be on the team. He's iffy at best, his body is clearly hurting from the Finals, and I think he's thinking about his career longevity. He's hit 30 and can't afford to have anything happen to him.
From the 2010 World Championship team, it's not even a question if Kevin Durant is on the team. Since Dwight Howard is hurt, we need a rim protector and Tyson Chandler pretty much starts by default, and with the bevy of scorers on this team, we just need the Defensive Player of the Year to do what he does. Let's replace Wade with Russell Westbrook, because we need an explosive guard off the bench and Rose and Rajon Rondo are out.
As it pertains to international rules, remember, I'm placing special emphasis on guys who are great at moving the ball and knocking down open jumpers. That's why I have Kevin Love making the team over Blake Griffin, whose athleticism will be nullified by the physicality of international play.
Now, either James Harden, Rudy Gay or Andre Iguodala will be chosen to replace Tayshaun Prince as the fill-in-the-blanks guy. I'm going to go with Harden because of his chemistry with Durant, his experience on a second unit and because he's the best shooter of the three.
So we have Paul at the point, Kobe at the two, Durant at the three, LeBron as the four, and Chandler at the five. Carmelo is coming off the bench to be the super-sub, like Wade was in 2008. Williams also gets significant minutes spelling Kobe to play with Paul in two-guard sets. Westbrook, Love, and Harden will earn their minutes as newcomers, and Bosh plays the veteran-support role.
So who gets that final twelfth spot? Well, I think everyone would collectively puke in their mouths or riot if Lamar Odom ever got picked for this team. As much as I love Eric Gordon, he gives you too much of what we already have on the team with the Oklahoma City triumvirate.
We don't yet have a big man backup for Chandler in terms of someone who can protect the rim. That's why I'm going with the 'Brow, Anthony Davis! Come on, this 2012 team needed a token college guy too.