Olympic Basketball 2012: Breaking Down Team USA's Point Guards
One of Team USA's best assets coming into the London Games is its diverse set of three point guards. While it remains to be seen which of them works best in the international game as part of a team of superstars, it's safe to say any of them is capable of leading the team to gold.
Of the three players—Deron Williams, Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook—Paul is the pure point guard whose strength is setting up teammates. The other two are combo guards.
We will see which one can be more efficient during the Olympics.
The recently signed point guard of the Brooklyn Nets, Deron Williams looks to add a gold medal to the $98 million he will be taking home during this offseason.
Williams is a combination of the two molds of point guards. He is not a pure scorer and not a pure passer, but he excels in both areas.
After averaging 21.0 points and 8.7 assists per game during the 2011-12 NBA season, Williams proved that he is at the top of his game in terms of scoring.
Unfortunately, his numbers have steadily dropped in terms of assists, and the point guard who averaged 12.8 assists just two seasons before is down to less than nine.
Williams is still a balanced point guard. He can win games by himself with his scoring, or else he can allow his teammates to do the damage. He will be pushing the tempo, and can help the U.S. go on quick runs.
Russell Westbrook is a combo guard. While he can pass well too, his forte is scoring the ball by himself.
Averaging 23.6 points and 5.5 assists per game during the NBA season, he was second in points on the Oklahoma City Thunder behind only scoring champion Kevin Durant.
If opposing teams don't respect his ability to score he can light them up for 30 points on any given night. However, if they hone in on him he can also rack up assists.
Westbrook is arguably the fastest of the three point guards, and he will be the one who pushes the tempo faster than Deron Williams or Chris Paul. Westbrook is the option at point guard if Mike Krzyzewski needs a player to score by himself.
His unique skill set at the point guard position can be a blessing and a curse, and Coach K just needs to make sure that he is using Westbrook at the right times so that he is not out of his comfort zone.
A free agent after next season, Chris Paul looks to add on to his impressive resume with a second Olympic gold and secure the five-year $108 million extension he wants.
The best pure point guard in the game today, Paul is the floor general who will be called upon to share the ball between Team USA's many options.
Paul averaged 19.8 points and 9.1 assists per game last season. While his assists numbers dipped a bit, that is only because the Los Angeles Clippers increased his role as a scorer. Now that he is surrounded by so many great players, he can sit back and be a distributor.
Paul can play either a slow tempo game or fast. He is a versatile point guard and a great floor general. He is the best point guard on the team, and he will be key to Team USA's success.