USA Basketball 2012: Top 5 Reasons Why Having One True Center Is a Non-Issue
The 2012 men's Olympic basketball team has only one true center in Tyson Chandler, but that won't be a problem for the USA National Team's quest for a gold medal.
Recent arguments on whether or not this year's Olympic team could beat the 1992 Dream Team have stirred up quite a debate in the weeks leading up to the tournament. But the fact of the matter is this year's squad wouldn't be able to overcome that legendary group, hell they couldn't even win against the Dream Team III (1996).
The '96 team had Hakeem Olajuwon, Shaquille O'Neal and David Robinson at center. As good as the reigning Defensive Player of the Year is, there's no way he could match up against those giants.
However, this isn't the 90s anymore. The 2012 Olympics has nowhere near that type of talent at center, which is why Chandler and the other USA bigs will dominate on their way to gold.
5. International Game Lacks Physical Big Men
The international game isn't based around a center that can dominate with his back to the basket.
There just aren't too many centers in this tournament that can totally take over games on their own. While there are some good centers such as Nene Hilario and Marc Gasol in the Olympics, there isn't an abundance of big men that will give team USA trouble in the paint.
Many international big men like Pau Gasol and Luis Scola have the ability to step out and take mid-range jumpers. While they can get into the paint to get easy buckets and rebounds, they aren't going to out muscle and constantly bang with the USA bigs.
4. X-Factor LeBron James
LeBron James is definitely a rare breed. He is one of the few players in the world that possess the skill set to play all five positions at a high level.
James has the ability to handle the ball and create like a point guard. He has the scoring tenacity of a wing player. The King also has the strength to guard opposing bigs, and more importantly get rebounds.
This is a huge asset for this team as James can fit in with any lineup that coach Mike Krzyzewski chooses to run. Having the reigning MVP at center certainly gives this team a dynamic that no other country can match.
3. USA Has Players That Can Effectively Sub in at Center
While there isn't another true center to back up Chandler this summer there are a few excellent players that will also play some meaningful time at the 5 spot.
Standing at 6'10" power forward Kevin Love has both the size and the game for international play. He's able to play with his back against the basket, but Love is also more than capable of stepping out beyond the three-point line. Last season he shot .375 percent from downtown while averaging 26 points per game.
Rookie power forward Anthony Davis may be this team's Christian Laettner, but when given the opportunity he won't disappoint on the boards. This past season at Kentucky Davis averaged 10.4 rebounds per game.
2. Tyson Chandler Is Enough to Anchor the Team on Defense
Chandler will be a one-man wrecking crew on defense this summer. Standing at 7'1" he'll be a terror in the paint for opposing teams whenever he's on the court.
While players like Nene, the Gasol brothers and Scola will make things tough for Chandler, he's more than capable of handling his own against these bigs.
Dealing with the likes of Anderson Varejao, Tiago Splitter and Serge Ibaka will be an easier task for Chandler, so don't count on these big men putting up huge numbers on the offensive end.
1. Smaller Lineups Make the Team Better on Offense
In his 11-year career Tyson Chandler has never averaged more than 12 points in the regular season and the playoffs. There's no question that he has a limited offensive game. A lot of Chandler's points comes from players slashing and creating open looks for him since he cannot get his own shot on a regular basis.
With Team USA running smaller lineups, opposing squads will have to worry about all five positions on offense. If Love or James plays center they will surely be out matched on height, but their scoring ability more than makes up for it.
Smaller lineups also space the floor which would favor USA enormously since this roster is packed with slashers that can get to the cup at will.
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