Team USA Basketball

US Olympic Basketball Team 2012: Anthony Davis Should Play Despite His Injury

ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 25:  Anthony Davis #23 of the Kentucky Wildcats dunks against the Baylor Bears in the first half during the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball South Regional Final at the Georgia Dome on March 25, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Charles BennettSenior Analyst IJuly 5, 2012

A roster spot opened up on Team USA last week when Chris Bosh decided to sit out the Olympics.

That roster spot should go to another big man, as the U.S. will need bigs against Spain (and perhaps against Brazil) to win a gold medal. 

And the man they should tap is Anthony Davis.

By adding a solid defensive player like Davis, the U.S. will have the ingredients necessary to run a tempo-controlling defense: solid defenders, athleticism, speed and a deep bench to keep rotating players in.  

True, Davis had suffered an ankle injury last week, but he Tweeted that he reported to Vegas today and still intends to attempt to make the squad if an ESPN interview with his father is to be believed.

The Most Outstanding Player of this year's NCAA Final Four, and the No. 1 draft selection by the New Orleans Hornets last week, Davis has the ability to control the tempo of a game almost single-handedly. 

He also works well as the lynchpin of a group of talented players and is arguably the greatest college defensive player of the 21st century.

In terms of stats, Davis averaged a double-double and was a sabremetric beast, with a 35.1 player efficiency rating, a .654 true shooting percentage and 11.8 win shares.

The injury shouldn't pose much of a problem, as Davis doesn't need to be 100 percent in the pool-play rounds. With Joakim Noah out, there is little depth among big men in Pool A.

To take full advantage of the tempo-controlling defensive potential of Davis, the U.S. should complement him with another defensive specialist in Dwyane Wade's spot.

I'd go with the 6' 6" Andre Iguodala, who is a significant steal threat and averages five or more rebounds with only the height of a shooting guard.

True, with both Iguodala and Davis, you're giving up a little on offense.  But seeing as the U.S. will likely have nine players who have averaged 20 or more over the course of a season, that's not a worry for me.

You could potentially run a third-quarter unit of Davis and Iguodala coupled with Tyson Chandler, Chris Paul and LeBron James.

In that lineup, you have two or three steal threats, two or three rebound threats and two block threats, as well as the athleticism for a press.  You have Paul for speed and accurate passing; Iguodala to guard on the perimeter; Chandler and Davis to rebound, block and stuff shots; and LeBron to do everything else.

A defensive-oriented lineup facing off against either the first- or second-string of opponents would either force a large number of steals (including a fair number in the backcourt) or low-percentage shots resulting in defensive rebounds.  Those would led to Chris Paul outlet passes to Davis, Chandler or LeBron for the dunk. 

And when that lineup gets tired, you just bring in Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant and Kevin Love for further domination.

In short: Go big, go defensive, go for Davis.

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