Now that the Men's USA National Basketball team has been selected, we look ahead to their competition and overall potential in the 2012 London Olympics. While the world expects Team USA to run away with the gold medal without haste, don't be surprised to see Kobe Bryant and company struggle out of the gates.
Even with a roster full of ultra-talented players—merely mentioning Bryant, LeBron James and Kevin Durant on the same team has fantasy owners in dream land—there are still a number of issues surrounding Team America before we can crown them champions of the world.
Uncertainty at forward
With Dwight Howard out of action with a bad back—not to mention his soap opera trade scenarios—Derrick Rose out with an ACL injury and Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh both nursing injuries, Team USA is without four of its best players from the NBA. Of course, there are always great options to fill in for these four, but it does not take away the fact that the post will be rather slim in London.
Howard's absence opens the door for Tyson Chandler, a former Defensive Player of the Year in his own right. Although still lethal, Chandler's offensive presence does not match up as well as Howard's does, leaving a hole in points.
Granted, in international play, having a dominant post isn't a huge necessity like it is in the NBA. International competition uses its forwards as guards more often than not. Also, James, Durant and Kevin Love are more than capable of handling their business in the paint.
Lack of post players has been a problem for most of the last few Olympic teams, so this one likely won't be too big of an issue. However, it is something worth keeping an eye on right now.
Brutal scheduling, potential for devastating injury
Out of the two, this is the biggest issue surrounding Team USA at this point.
The NBA lockout forced the players to have a more congested schedule in the regular season, leaving them with more back-to-back games than ever before.
Because of these scheduling issues, players felt an all-time high level of exhaustion as the season wore on. It forced players, especially its stars, to produce at higher levels more often. One could certainly say that, even though the NBA had a successful season, they have dug themselves a huge hole with the scheduling concerns surrounding the Olympics.
Playing 66 games from the end of December to April is one thing. When you add those regular season games with the post season—something every player except for Love was part of—and then the time commitment for the Olympics, you will have some extremely tired, dead legs.
NBA players are professionals and would likely never blame representing their country on something so trivial as scheduling concerns, but it is a huge concern for NBA owners, their fans and fans of Team USA that want to see them bring home the gold once again.
With all of these games being played in such a short amount of time, it is not unreasonable to think that the international competition may have an advantage in terms of energy. If the USA doesn't have the energy needed to compete at a high level throughout the entire Olympic games, a silver, or even bronze medal are not beyond the realm of reality.
Team USA is the heavy favorites heading into the London Games, and rightfully so. However, these concerns, however small they may be to some, have the potential to ruin the fun of an American gold medal.
Overall, the United States Men's basketball team have all the tools needed to win it all. Except, given the lack of interior presence and potential to dead legs towards the tail-end of the Olympics, Team USA could be facing an uphill battle that nobody expects them to face.
Don't be surprised to see them struggle at any point during the Olympics. While it may not be what you expect, or even want to see, it is very possible.