Team USA Basketball 2012: Why LeBron James Is the Key Against Spain

Steve MazeCorrespondent IIJuly 24, 2012

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JULY 19:  USA player Lebron James  in action during the Men's Exhibition Game between USA and Team GB at Manchester Arena on July 19, 2012 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Stu Forster/Getty Images

While LeBron James has been posting solid numbers in previous Team USA exhibition games, tonight should be different.

As Team USA faces off against their most formidable opponent in Spain, James must step up on both sides of the ball and play with the same fiery passion that made the Miami Heat NBA Champions.



Team USA has enough people that can put the ball in the hoop—that's not an issue. That said, James is the best combination of penetrator, passer and finisher the team has.

From a plethora of sets, James has been effective from the wing, top of the key and free throw line area. Depending on match-ups, James may at times have a bigger, slower player guarding him.

Easy to attack, James should not settle for jumpers but rather drive at the hoop every play to either finish, draw a foul, or find an open teammate for a kick-out three.

That all said, James is most effective when working in the open court. His ability to both run the break as well as hustle down court for alley-oop finishes shows he is a threat to score whenever on the court.



Switching over to the defensive side of the ball, this is where James' presence will be key against Spain.

With the only true big men being Tyson Chandler, Kevin Love and Anthony Davis, the United States has always known their weakness (yes, a team full of All-Stars can have weaknesses) would be post defense.

Spain is the most able team to exploit this weakness with Pau Gasol, Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka forming a better trio of big men than Team USA's.

This impacts James as he will be spending a large portion of his evening defending these bigs down low—a job he is extremely qualified for. It has always been voiced that James is the most versatile player because of his size, strength and athleticism. Tonight, he can once again prove it.

Overall, James needs to take initiative when on the court. With a roster full of stars, it's natural to become complacent and avoid stepping on teammates' toes. Spain though is too good of a team for the United States to coast to a victory.

Someone must step up and deliver an MVP performance—why not the regular season and final's MVP himself?