The 2012 men's national team was built to run through the Olympics and give countries a thorough trouncing . The dark cloud of the 2004 Summer Olympics that still looms over Team USA is motivation enough to ensure this team will not lose focus and drop any games en route to a gold medal.
This team is arguably deeper than the 2008 Redeem Team that went undefeated throughout the tournament. The squad from 2008 had a stronger front line with Dwight Howard, Chris Bosh and Carlos Boozer, compared to the 2012 bigs with Tyson Chandler, Kevin Love and Anthony Davis.
Chris Paul talked about how much player have grown since the Beijing Olympics in an article by Nancy Kercheval of Bloomberg.
"When I think about ‘08, we were really good then. But like me, LeBron and D-Will, all of us talk about, you’ve got to think about how much better all of us are now than we were in ’08,” Paul said. “One through 12, no question we’re deeper than we were in ’08."
Besides that, both teams are virtually the same except with a few tweaks. Obviously injuries hurt this team, but the new additions definitely give this team a dynamic that will make them a nightmare to deal with in international play. The Oklahoma City Thunder trio brings youth, speed and a scoring tenacity that will keep opposing teams on their heels.
"I think (Russell) Westbrook gets D-Wade’s role for us,” Kobe told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “He pushes the ball and gets to the rim and can defend all over the floor. One thing D-Wade did for us was extend possessions for us and create steals that resulted in a lot of easy run-out baskets for us. Russell’s just as good at doing that."
Of course, while team USA has changed through the years, other countries have also improved.
The biggest competition for USA has to be the Spanish National Basketball Team, which is second in the FIBA World Rankings.
Spain features an impressive roster with José Calderón, Juan Carlos Navarro, Rudy Fernández, Pau Gasol, Marc Gasol and shot-blocker extraordinaire Serge Ibaka.
This team poses the greatest threat to the U.S. because of the Gasol brothers and Ibaka patrolling the paint. Since this year's U.S. squad has a team geared around slashing wing players, they could be a problem down the line. In the end, Chandler and Love should match up nicely against Spain's bigs.
Another team that will give USA problems is the Brazilian National Team because of Anderson Varejao, Nene Hilario and Tiago Splitter. They have impressive length, but their lack of physical play will be Brazil's downfall.
USA won't a lose a game in the London Olympics, thanks to the blend of young talent and championship pedigree. Look for this squad to dominate on both ends of the floor and repeat as tournament champions without losing a single game.
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