Olympics: Why Team USA Benefits from Replacing Blake Griffin with Anthony Davis
The Blake Show is out and The Unibrow is in.
Los Angeles Clippers forward and human highlight reel Blake Griffin will miss the Olympics after tearing the meniscus in his left knee, according to SI's Sam Amick. Team USA has announced 2012 No. 1 overall pick Anthony Davis will replace Griffin on the 12-man roster.
Davis initially missed the cut for the final three spots as he was recovering from a sprained ankle suffered while working out with his new team, the New Orleans Hornets. Griffin was one of the players named to those final three spots along with guard James Harden and forward Andre Iguodala.
While the Griffin injury is a big blow to an Olympic team already lacking size in the frontcourt, replacing him with the 19-year-old Davis works to Team USA's benefit. As explosive as Griffin is, he doesn't possess the defensive acumen that Davis does.
The same goes for fellow forward Kevin Love. Davis matches Love and Griffin's rebounding prowess, but adds a shot-blocking element that the team was sorely lacking.
Beyond reigning Defensive Player of the Year Tyson Chandler, Team USA didn't have many big men who can defend and protect the rim. In fact, Chandler was the only true center on the team after injuries left the Olympic team without high-profile centers like LaMarcus Aldridge, Andrew Bynum and Dwight Howard.
With his lanky frame, Davis is better suited to be a power forward, but his defensive skills have become the stuff of legends after a record-setting season with Kentucky last year. Davis averaged nearly five blocks a game for the Wildcats and broke the single-season records for blocks.
Davis showed the the team what he can do on the offensive end last night in Team USA's 113-59 trouncing of the Dominican Republic in an exhibition game. Davis scored nine points in 10 fourth-quarter minutes, including a three-pointer where he also drew the foul.
As much as Team USA will benefit from having another shot-blocker on the roster, Davis will also gain from being on the Olympic team. He will learn from playing with some of the game's greatest players while sharing the court with fierce, driven competitors like Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant.
The time spent around these veterans will push Davis and help him in the long run, much like being around Kobe motivated LeBron James a few years ago.
Team USA was already a serious contender to take home the gold with or without Blake Griffin. With Davis in the fold, the team gets a boost on the defensive end and fills a glaring need that some feared would be their Achilles' heel.
Who would have thought that losing a superstar like Blake Griffin would actually help Team USA's chances of taking home the gold?
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