Team USA Basketball: 5 Lineups to Try in London

Charles BennettSenior Analyst IJuly 9, 2012

Team USA Basketball: 5 Lineups to Try in London

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    Last weekend, Team USA announced which 12 men will be playing for them in London.  While the roster is laden with talent, it is thin among the bigs, with only three players over six-foot-ten and just one over seven-feet, and has five or six guards.

    Here are five lineups Team USA should consider using later this month.

The Starting Lineup

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    G Chris Paul

    G Kobe Bryant

    F Carmelo Anthony

    F LeBron James

    C Tyson Chandler

     

    Right about now, you’re wondering “why Carmelo Anthony over Kevin Durant?” 

    For one, Carmelo Anthony has more international experience than Durant, and has a history of playing strong internationally.  Though Durant was MVP of the 2010 Worlds, he’s never played in the Olympics

    For two, I think it might be wise to spread out our talented players a little between the first and second unit. 

    For three, since Durant is more of a cornerman and Anthony is more of a true small forward, having Durant on the bench will give the U.S. flexibility to sub him in at either the three or the four. 

    My starting lineup segues into the following depth chart (Note that Durant, Iguodala and Griffin are each listed under two positions).

    Position

    1st

    2nd

    3rd

    PG

    Chris Paul

    Deron Williams

    Russell Westbrook

    SG

    Kobe Bryant

    James Harden

    Andre Iguodala

    SF

    Carmelo Anthony

    Kevin Durant

    Andre Iguodala

    PF

    LeBron James

    Kevin Durant

    Blake Griffin

    C

    Tyson Chandler

    Kevin Love

    Blake Griffin

The “Thunder and Two Other Guys” Lineup

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    G Russell Westbrook

    G James Harden

    F Andre Iguodala

    F Kevin Durant

    C Kevin Love

    There are three Oklahoma City Thunder players on the roster, all of whom could be seeing time with the second unit (particularly if the depth chart I posed in the last slide holds true).  Considering that the Thunder trio was the most dynamic trio in the league last year, with the possible exception of those guys down in Miami, it might be a good idea to improve team cohesion by playing the three together.  (Also note that that is yet another reason to sit Durant at the outset).

    You then just add two more guys, a center and a forward, preferably neither of whom are in the starting lineup.  I went with Iguodala and Love.  I know this has Durant at the 4 instead of his usual 3, but with Team USA’s height issues, expect him to see a considerable amount of time there.

The “Whole Lotta Guards” Lineup

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    G Deron Williams

    G Russell Westbrook

    F Kobe Bryant

    F Andre Iguodala

    C LeBron James

     

    Team USA has six guards (five-and-a-half if you consider Iguodala a swingman), and this lineup is essentially a pastiche of Team USA’s height issues: No one on this lineup is over 6’8”, and the “center” is a point forward in LeBron James.

    Not that this lineup couldn’t be effective; it has four of the top 10 scorers in the NBA last season, explosive speed and people like LeBron and Kobe who can make difficult shots.  With the explosiveness of this lineup, it would be difficult to guard with players of any size.

    It also puts Russell Westbrook at the 2, which is how he plays anyway.    

The “Lockdown Defense” Lineup

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    G Chris Paul

    G Kobe Bryant

    F Andre Iguodala

    F LeBron James

    C Tyson Chandler

     

    Team USA has two defensive specialists in Iguodala and Chandler and three players in LeBron, Kobe and Paul that have made a considerable number of All-Defensive teams.  This lineup can play lockdown defensive ball, has many rebounding or steal threats and can attempt to control tempo.

    And with Kobe and LeBron there, you’re not ceding that much scoring-wise.  Though he doesn’t score much, Chandler actually led the league in accuracy last season, due to the fact that he converts a lot of layups and dunks.

    In my opinion, it would have been even more effective had Anthony Davis been selected instead of James Harden…he’d come in for Kobe, and Iggy and LeBron would move down to their true positions of the 2 and the 3.

The Closing Lineup

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    G Chris Paul

    G Kobe Bryant

    F Kevin Durant

    F LeBron James

    C Kevin Love

     

    What you want from this lineup is defensive stops, rebounding, clutch shooting and high free-throw percentage.  Three of the five on this list are solid defenders; all five have had 20-point averages during the season. 

    Obviously, you start with Kobe and his five rings.  LeBron and his three MVPs are next (though, surprisingly, he is the only one of the five with a free-throw percentage below 80 percent).  Then you add Team USA’s next-best player in Kevin Durant.  Then their best point guard at either end of the floor to quarterback the offense.   

    I went with Love over Chandler for scoring and free-throw percentage (82.4 percent against 63.3 percent). Though there’s an argument to be made for Chandler because of his defense, Love is a better scorer, slightly better rebounder and fits more in with the international style of play.