London 2012: Why Spain Will Shock Team USA and Win Olympic Gold in Basketball
Most Americans see Team USA as a lock to take home the gold medal in men's basketball, but that will all come crashing down when Spain's National Team stuns the U.S. Olympic Team in the London Games.
The USA may have the most talented players in the world, and the deepest roster, but the Spaniards will prove that talent isn't everything, avenging an 85-86 loss to Team USA in the 2010 World Championships (a game in which Pau Gasol did not play).
When looking at Team USA's roster, you see the talent: LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Russell Westbrook, etc.
However, there is one problem: Who are the big men?
You can't win an international competition without a presence inside, and this team is too focused on guard-play. Of the 16 players on the roster, only one is a center.
Tyson Chandler is the NBA Defensive Player of the Year, yet he didn't make the All-Defensive team. He is the only center on the roster for Team USA.
The next closest thing to a center on the USA roster is Anthony Davis of Kentucky. Sure, he was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 NBA draft, but to say that a 19-year-old kid is the second-best big man in the United States is ridiculous.
Unlike USA teams in the past, this team will rely almost entirely on guards on the offensive end.
There is no dominant big man inside on the roster, except for perhaps Kevin Love (although he has a great mid-range game as well). Chandler only averaged 11.3 points per game in the NBA, and Davis still has an underdeveloped offensive game.
While this lack of centers wouldn't be a problem against most international teams, there is one country that can exploit this weakness better than any other: Spain.
The Spanish have an incredible frontcourt that includes Pau Gasol, Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka. Both Gasols have well-rounded games, and Ibaka was the NBA's leading shot-blocker this year, averaging 3.65 per game.
These three big men will be able to exploit the Americans in the paint, which is the true weakness of Team USA.
The problem for the Spanish is that they must be able to match the guard play of the U.S. in order to utilize their advantage in the paint.
Juan Carlos Navarro and Jose Calderon will form the backcourt they need to keep up with Team USA.
Navarro is a great scoring threat who led the Spanish team in points during Eurobasket 2011 with almost 19 per game.
Calderon should be the point guard, although he may share time with several others. Calderon has become a great passer during the last two seasons in Toronto, after his seven seasons in the NBA.
Spain can keep it competitive enough in the backcourt to make the game come down to the frontcourt. This will allow Ibaka and the Gasols to determine the winner of the game, leading to the Spanish team taking home gold.
Due to injuries and a lack of big men, Team USA will have to settle for silver in London.
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