The 2012 Olympics are right around the corner, and Team U.S.A should be ready to take on the best that the basketball world seemingly has to offer.
While the U.S. squad is going to be fun to watch, their international competition should be entertaining and impressive at times as well.
With the tournament set to begin July 29, the U.S. will enter as the No. 1 in the world according to FIBA. While they should be considered the clear-cut favorites to win it all in London, they do play two of the top-5 teams—Argentina and Lithuania—as well as a very competitive squad from France in pool play.
Much has been made about the Team USA vs. Dream Team debate this summer, but let’s first make sure that this year’s squad can take down today’s competition.
Here is a look at the players, the schedule and what else to watch for as we approach the 2012 Summer Olympics:
|LeBron James||Forward||6'8"||250||Miami Heat|
|Carmelo Anthony||Forward||6'8"||230||New York Knicks|
|Kobe Bryant||Guard||6'6"||205||Los Angeles Lakers|
|Chris Paul||Guard||6'0"||183||Los Angeles Clippers|
|Deron Williams||Guard||6'3"||209||Brooklyn Nets|
|Kevin Durant||Forward||6'9"||235||Oklahoma City Thunder|
|Russell Westbrook||Guard||6'3"||187||Oklahoma City Thunder|
|Kevin Love||Forward||6'10"||260||Minnesota Timberwolves|
|Andre Iguodala||Guard/Forward||6'6"||207||Philadelphia 76ers|
|James Harden||Guard||6'5"||220||Oklahoma City Thunder|
|Tyson Chandler||Center||7'1"||240||New York Knicks|
|Anthony Davis||Forward/Center||6'10"||220||New Orleans Hornets|
|France||July 29||9:30 a.m. ET|
|Tunisia||July 31||5:15 p.m. ET|
|Nigeria||Aug. 2||5:15 p.m ET|
|Lithuania||Aug. 4||9:30 a.m. ET|
|Argentina||Aug. 6||5:15 p.m. ET|
The men's quarterfinals games begin Aug. 8 following pool play. The semifinals are Aug. 10 and the bronze and gold-medal games will be played Aug. 12.
Check out NBCOlympics.com for the full tournament schedule.
Player to Watch: Lebron James
The Team U.S.A roster is completely stacked, but coming off the best season of his NBA career, don’t be surprised if LeBron James keeps the momentum going all the way to London.
As a league MVP and NBA champion last year, James averaged career highs in rebounds, three-point percentage and field-goal percentage, as well as 27.1 points and 6.2 assists per game.
His ability to run down the court and fly through the air is perfect for international competition, and his newfound post game is going to be useful on a team that lacks a true scorer down low.
Kobe Bryant will get his shots, Carmelo Anthony will bully his way inside and Kevin Durant will knock down three-pointers with ease; but don’t be surprised to see James walk away with a full stat sheet and an impressive highlight reel from this year’s Olympic competition.
The United States should be the favorites heading into the 2012 Olympics, and they're going to flat-out dominate at times throughout the competition.
That being said, that doesn’t mean it’s going to be an easy road every step of the way.
Team U.S.A. is in the more competitive of the two pool brackets, and they have Spain who will likely be waiting for them at some point following the first five games.
To say this team lacks size is a bit unfair—James and Anthony have proven they can use their size to their advantage against international play—but they do lack a consistent inside force on offense.
Tyson Chandler and Anthony Davis should get the job done defensively, but they won’t be expected to dominate the middle on the offensive end.
The good news for Team U.S.A.? It probably won’t matter.
This team is so fast and so strong, expect to see them in a fast-break mindset most of the time in London. When they do get into half-court situations, their three-point shooting and extreme athleticism should help propel them to success.
This team is favored to win gold, and for good reason.
They'll be tested at times throughout the tournament, but Team U.S.A should walk away as gold medal winners in the 2012 Olympic games.