London Olympics 2012: Role-Players Who Will Be Key for Team USA Basketball
The 2012 US Olympic basketball team will depend heavily on its role players this summer in London if it is to capture gold at the 2012 Summer Olympics.
Although players like LeBron James, Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony and Kobe Bryant will be the focus of fans and the competition, the last few names chosen for Mike Krzyzewski's 12-man roster will be just as vital to the Americans' success.
Without further ado, here is the trio of role players whose play will determine whether Team USA triumphs or falls in London this summer.
The reigning NBA Sixth Man of the Year will likely be coming off the bench for Team USA this summer in London, but if anything it will be a familiar and mostly comfortable sight for the versatile Harden. The 22-year-old guard averaged 16.8 points, four rebounds and nearly four assists per game last season for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Harden can and will do a number of different things for the Americans at the 2012 Summer Games. His biggest contribution will likely be his three-point prowess and ability to split the defense and draw fouls. Harden shot 39 percent from beyond the arc last season with OKC, and made five free throws per game on average.
Which role player is most important to Team USA in 2012?
Minnesota Timberwolves power forward Kevin Love is an elite rebounder, and his presence on the boards for Team USA as a significant role-player will be key for their success this summer. Love averaged 13.3 rebounds per game last season for Minnesota, and at 6'10", 260 pounds can become a force on glass at the international level as well.
Love can also provide an outside scoring threat for the Americans. He is a career 37 percent shooter from downtown in the NBA, and can stretch the floor with his accuracy from deep. If Love is being defended by a traditional power forward, he can open up the floor and create space for Team USA with his shooting prowess.
It's all about defense for veteran small forward Andre Iguodala this summer. The 28-year-old can certainly provide a scoring punch if called upon offensively, but it will be his length and athleticism on the defensive end of the court that proves to be most valuable to the Americans. Iguodala averaged nearly two steals per game last season with the Philadelphia 76ers, and is one of the most deadly finishers on the break after poking the ball loose.
Although LeBron James and Tyson Chandler will get credit as Team USA's top defenders in 2012, a strong case can be made for Iguodala coming off the bench. Defense will be key for the Americans in London this summer as they look to repeat as Olympic champions, and Iguodala will provide just that as a key role-player for Team USA.
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