The United States has rounded up a group of the NBA’s biggest stars, and Team USA looks ready to defend its gold medal at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
The team was ravaged by injuries leading up to the final roster selection; Dwyane Wade, Dwight Howard, Derrick Rose and Chris Bosh will all miss the tournament.
There are key differences between the international style of play and the NBA, and that was certainly on the minds of coach Mike Krzyzewski and USA basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo when they chose their players.
Those differences, and the wealth of talent on the team, will force some players to play drastically different roles than they are normally familiar with.
Here are the 12 members of Team USA with their projected contributions in London broken down and analyzed.
Roster courtesy of CBS Sports.
Despite suffering a minor thumb sprain in practice, Paul will likely be Team USA’s starting point guard. The 2012 First Team All-NBA floor general averaged 8.0 points and 4.0 assists in eight games during Beijing tournament.
He is a consummate leader who will ensure fluid ball movement and that all the talented scorers get their touches. Paul’s unselfish play will be an invaluable asset to the squad throughout the London Games.
There will be plenty of alpha dogs of the roster, but they will all still defer to Bryant. The five-time NBA champion will be the leader of the team, and if the Americans surprisingly finds themselves in a close game, the last shot will likely go to Bryant if possible.
The shooting guard scored 15 points per game in 2008 and he will start alongside Chris Paul in the backcourt. Now four years older and soon to be 34, he will likely get fewer minutes this time around, but Bryant's impact will remain.
Team USA’s greatest strength is not its starting-five, but its depth. Having Williams come off the bench is a ridiculous luxury.
His size, in addition to his catch-and-shoot abilities, makes him versatile enough to play alongside Paul in the backcourt. Williams will see time at point guard and shooting guard, and he will excel at both throughout the tournament.
Bringing Westbrook off the bench will be demoralizing to a number of competitors. As inferior opponents begin to adjust to the American’s size and athleticism, Coach K can throw Westbrook in the game and up the tempo.
Few players in the NBA are as electric as Westbrook in the open court. His defense and athleticism will be extremely valuable in London.
The international three-point line is closer than the NBA line, making shooters all the more valuable. Harden is a career 37 percent shooter from beyond the arc, and hen he’s hot, Harden is deadly.
However, he is used to being on the ball with the Oklahoma City Thunder and will have to adjust to a different role in moving without the ball.
The international game features a smaller court and more zone defense, which theoretically limits the effect of a player's athleticism. Regardless of these differences, James will still dominate the competition.
The three-time MVP and newly crowned NBA champion will likely see time at both forward spots. There is no athlete in the world like him and there is not a single team or player who will be able to slow him down.
Durant is simply too good not to start for the U.S. He was the MVP of the 2010 FIBA World Championships and his shooting abilities give him an ideal skill set for the international game.
The three-time NBA scoring champ will challenge James and Bryant in a friendly internal scoring competition. In 2008, Wade led the team with 16.0 points per game, while James averaged 15.5 and Bryant put up 15.0 a night. With Wade out, Durant will be getting plenty of looks.
Anthony was a starter on the 2008 squad, but he will likely play a reduced role this time around. He is still one of the best scorers in the NBA and can put the ball in the basket from anywhere on the floor.
Still, Coach K will need the all-around offensive talents of Anthony, who is a knockdown shooter from distance. He is versatile and can play either forward spot, and despite the criticism he has taken since moving to New York, he will be an important part of the team.
Without Howard and Bosh, Love will be counted on as Team USA's frontcourt presence. He is one of the top rebounders in the NBA and will continue to clean up on the glass in London.
But the rest of Love’s skill set is ideal for the international game. He can shoot from distance or score with his back to the basket, and excels in a half-court offense. Expect him to log significant minutes.
In contrast to Love, Griffin’s skill set does not quite fit the international game. The shorter court will limit his effectiveness in transition and his lack of a perimeter game will hurt him.
The Clippers star provides size, though, and no player in the world plays above the rim quite like Griffin. While he may not have as big an impact as the other forwards, the human highlight reel will make at least a few appearances on Sportscenter’s "Top 10."
Iguodala will not make much of a contribution on offense, but he is still a smart pick for Colangelo and Co. He is a destructive perimeter defender and will terrorize opposing wing players.
The Sixers forward can lock down the other team’s best player and allow his teammates to focus their energy on the offensive end of the floor. He is a perfect fit as the team’s defensive ace.
Chandler is the only true center on the team and will almost certainly start because of this. The 2012 Defensive Player of the Year is a perfect candidate to anchor the team’s defense and dominate on the boards.
He is a vocal leader and plays with an incredible motor. Chandler is always willing to do the dirty work and he will not be outworked in the post at any point in the tournament.
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