The U.S. Olympic basketball team may not be as strong this year due to injuries, but it is still the most talented squad in the 2012 London Olympics, and there are several returning players eager to repeat.
USA Basketball still has LeBron James, Deron Williams, Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant and Carmelo Anthony on the team, and has added plenty of new talent, including Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Blake Griffin, Kevin Love, Tyson Chandler and Andre Iguodala.
The squad is missing such players as Dwight Howard, Andrew Bynum, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, but does it really matter?
Spain—the team that is expected to challenge the U.S.—includes Pau Gasol, Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka, Rudy Fernandez, Jose Calderon and Juan Carlos Navarro, but that still doesn't compare to the USA's talent on the floor. Maybe things would have been different with Ricky Rubio on the hardwood, but he's out with a torn ACL.
Sure, talent isn't everything, but this isn't the 2004 team that bumbled to a bronze medal. The returning players from the 2008 gold medal team are hungry for a consecutive gold medal, and those players just so happen to be some of the best in the world. They also have the experience of playing with each other—James and Anthony go all the way back to the 2004 Olympics in Greece, so they know what it feels like to get shocked and embarrassed on the world stage.
The reality is, the injuries to the U.S. team this year shouldn't have any bearing on who wins the gold medal. James is the best player in the world—one who proved to be virtually unstoppable in the 2012 NBA Finals—and he has a cast of characters who will likely roll over anyone who gets in their way.
Regardless of the lack of size in the frontcourt this year for USA Basketball, this team has the potential to simply run past everyone. They are so athletic and explosive, even the most savvy defensive teams will have trouble containing them, including Spain.
Injuries have made USA Basketball less powerful in 2012, but LeBron James and company still look like a team to be feared.
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