Team USA basketball has suffered numerous injuries prior to the 2012 Olympic Games, but this won’t deter them from going undefeated and winning the gold medal.
Due to injuries, only five players from the 2008 gold medal team are participating again in 2012: Carmelo Anthony, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Chris Paul and Deron Williams.
Players like Chris Bosh, Dwight Howard and Dwyane Wade are certainly still talented enough to make the team, but are dealing with various injuries that will force them to miss going for back-to-back Olympic gold medals.
If losing these stars isn’t bad enough already, Team USA is also missing a few younger players who could have made their first Olympic roster this year, but didn’t because of an injury.
One of these players was a leader on the 2010 USA team that took home the gold medal during the FIBA World Championships in Turkey—Derrick Rose. Rose was the team leader in assists in 2010 and would have made major contributions on the defensive end during the Olympics because of his quickness.
Another player who should have been participating in his first Olympics this year is Blake Griffin. Griffin was on the verge of making the roster before he injured his knee during practice and was replaced by rookie New Orleans Hornets big man Anthony Davis.
For every team in this tournament other than the USA, losing so many talented players would be devastating. Fortunately, Team USA has the luxury of just replacing these players with others who are just as talented, if not more talented, than the players they lost.
For a better understanding of just how good Team USA is even with a roster that has a ton of replacement players on it, let’s break down the top 10 players in the tournament at each position.
1. Kobe Bryant (USA)
2. Chris Paul (USA)
3. Deron Williams (USA)
4. Russell Westbrook (USA)
5. Tony Parker (France)
6. Manu Ginobili (Argentina)
7. James Harden (USA)
8. Jose Calderon (Spain)
9. Leandro Barbosa (Brazil)
10. Rudy Fernandez (Spain)
Team USA owns the top four spots on the guards list. No team has one guard who can match the athleticism of guys like Paul, Williams and Westbrook, let alone multiple guards who can guard them all game long.
These USA guards should wreak havoc on opposing guards throughout the tournament. They will force an abundance of turnovers that will lead to easy baskets.
Besides the point guards, Team USA has the best scoring guard in the world, Kobe Bryant. Bryant may be 33 years old, but he can still light up the scoreboard and finish from any spot on the floor. He has an incredible post-up game and will shoot over any defender who tries to stop him.
1. LeBron James (USA)
2. Kevin Durant (USA)
3. Carmelo Anthony (USA)
4. Luol Deng (Great Britain)
5. Andre Iguodala (USA)
6. Serge Ibaka (Spain)
7. Luis Scola (Argentina)
8. Nicolas Batum (France)
9. Anderson Varejao (Brazil)
10. Al-Farouq Aminu (Nigeria)
The USA forwards will completely dominate their competition throughout the Olympics.
After his NBA championship-winning performance this season, LeBron James can officially claim the title of "best basketball player on the planet." Not only will his scoring be too much for any team to handle, but on the defensive end he will completely shut down the opposing team’s best perimeter scorer every game.
Kevin Durant or Carmelo Anthony will play alongside James. Both of these forwards can score at will, especially since the three-point line is a foot and a half shorter than they are used to.
Andre Iguodala will make valuable contributions to Team USA as well with his lock-down defense.
1. Kevin Love (USA)
2. Pau Gasol (Spain)
3. Tyson Chandler (USA)
4. Marc Gasol (Spain)
5. Nene (Brazil)
6. Anthony Davis (USA)
7. Jonas Valenciunas (Lithuania)
8. Tiago Splitter (Brazil)
9. Pops Mensah-Bonsu (Great Britain)
10. Kevin Seraphin (France)
The center position is the only position where another team, Spain, can almost match Team USA. The USA still takes the edge, though, with two of the top three centers competing in the Olympics.
Even though he won’t start for Team USA, Kevin Love is the best center in the competition. Love was the only player in the NBA last season to finish top five in the league in both points (26.0) and rebounds (13.3).
His game translates great to the international style since he can step out to the three-point line on both offense and defense.
The starting center for the Americans is Tyson Chandler. Chandler was the Defensive Player of the Year last season and can guard any center in the Olympics. He had his coming out party during the 2010 FIBA World Championships and will continue his dominance for Team USA here at the Olympics.
With Team USA dominating every position individually, they are clearly the best overall team in the tournament. Even if an opposing team comes out strong against the USA, there is no way they can match the Americans’ depth and compete once the starters take a seat.
Even with the abundance of injuries Team USA suffered prior to the Olympics, their bench is still better than almost every other team’s starting unit. That is why they will still have no problem going undefeated and taking home their second straight gold medal.