With the Team USA basketball roster finally set for the London 2012 Olympics, the squad sports plenty of experience. Only two players will enter London having never played in international competition: Blake Griffin and James Harden.
Some changes for these two to consider are the different dimensions of the court and the FIBA basketball they'll be playing with. A much larger change will be playing on a team full of previous NBA MVPs and scoring champions.
With the likes of LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant, Griffin and Harden must quickly find their role on the team if they want playing time.
The following are expectations for Griffin and Harden as Team USA tries to repeat as gold medalists.
Let's get the obvious out of the way: Blake Griffin will have at least one dunk at the Olympics that makes everyone's jaw hit the ground. Probably on an alley-oop, and likely from point guard Chris Paul.
In regards to true basketball usage, though, Griffin is the third "big man" behind Tyson Chandler and Kevin Love.
With oversized small forwards—James, Durant and Carmelo Anthony—coach Mike Krzyzewski may use only one of his three bigs at a time. This moves Love and Griffin out of their natural power forward position, but allows the United States to play faster without losing any size advantage.
Defense is key for Griffin this summer. With enough points on the offensive end, Griffin needs to focus on protecting the rim and rebounding to take some of the burden off Chandler.
For reference, the third big man in 2008 was Carlos Boozer, and he only averaged 6.0 minutes a game—the least on the team.
One factor that could lead to James Harden being the surprise player of these Olympics: He is the only member of the team who isn't a starter in the NBA.
The story of Harden being a sixth man is well known (because he won Sixth Man of the Year last season) and should not be overlooked this summer.
Producing off the bench is a hard adjustment for some members to make because they haven't been a bench player since grade school.
In 2008, the sixth man was Dwyane Wade, who averaged a team-high 16.1 PPG. Wade's production off the bench was essential for the gold medal run as he was the leader of the second unit.
Wade will miss these Olympics due to a knee injury. Thus, Krzyzewski will be looking early on for a scoring leader to carry the second unit.
Harden is more than capable after averaging 16.8 PPG last season with the Oklahoma City Thunder. His ability to drive to the hoop, draw contact, finish and attempt free throws could be vital for success.
If he shines in the exhibition games, Harden could earn the role as sixth man.