USA Basketball: What Team USA Lacks in Height, They Make Up in Versatility

Oren FriedmanCorrespondent IIJuly 25, 2012

LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 12:  (L-R)  Carmelo Anthony #15,  Kobe Bryant #10, Kevin Durant #5, LeBron James #6, and Chris Paul #13 of the US Men's Senior National Team watch the action during a pre-Olympic exhibition game against the Dominican Republic at Thomas & Mack Center on July 12, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The United States won the game 113-59.  (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)
David Becker/Getty Images

Even without Dwight Howard, Chris Bosh and Blake GriffinTeam USA as currently constructed is head and shoulders above the rest of the world.

The United States is by no means the biggest or lankiest team preparing for the Olympics.

Brazil has height in Anderson Varejao. Argentina has a low-post threat in Luis Scola. Certainly Spain has a formidable frontline in the three-headed monster of Serge Ibaka, Pau Gasol and Marc Gasol.

Still, what Team USA lacks in size, they compensate for in defense and versatility.

Here is why Team USA should face few problems in London.


Versatile Personnel

This year's roster is full of guys who can play and defend multiple positions.

LeBron James has proven that he has the length, wingspan and speed to play any of the five positions on the court. Importantly, James is dynamic enough to defend any opposing player on the floor as well. 

After having defended impressive offensive players like Carmelo Anthony, Kevin GarnettKevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and even Roy Hibbert en route to his first championship last season, James should be able to contain any opponent's premier player.

Beyond James, Anthony and Durant are also perfect fits for international basketball.

Both are quick and lanky, and can score efficiently.

Anthony has the moves to dominate opponents on the baseline or hit the step-back jumper. Durant might be Team USA's purest shooter, and is virtually unguardable.

The international game is one of speed and finesse. Halfcourt sets are turned down in favor of primary and secondary breaks. Unfortunately for opponents,Team USA's high-octane offense is unmatched in terms of speed and athleticism.

Add in Chris Paul and Deron Williams as the team's floor generals, and the complexion of the roster is unmatched.

When NBA MVP runner-up Durant is your sixth man, your team is in pretty good shape.

Much can be made about the team's one true center Tyson Chandler, or the only other legitimate big men Kevin Love and Anthony Davis. But with a roster featuring versatile guys like James, Anthony, Durant, Westbrook and Andre Iguodala, this team should be unbeatable.


Lockdown Defense

Outside of Team USA, the rest of the world only sports a handful of perimeter stars that have the capabilities of keeping up with Team USA's defensive tenacity.

Argentina has Manu Ginobili, France has Tony Parker and England has Luol Deng, but all in all, those guys will not be able to fend off Team USA's aggressive traps.

Defending the paint might be this team's lone weakness. Pounding the ball inside is an option, but that involves significantly slowing down the game.

That might be the best recipe for defeating Team USA, but it can likely only hold them off for brief spurts.

In their exhibition showdown with Spain, Team USA forced 19 turnovers resulting in 29 points.

Even though this game meant nothing in the chase for the gold medal, Team USA's defense was foreshadowing of what is to come against their competition.

Brazil fared no better against the United States. In an 80-69 victory, Team USA forced 23 turnovers and blitzed Brazil's backcourt before it could pound it in to Varejao down low.

This defense is the best in the world, and once Team USA decides to put their opponent on lockdown, the US become nearly impossible to score on.


Crunch Time

Although the US has the game to storm through international play with decisive victories throughout the Olympics, Team USA still features some of the most clutch players on the planet.

Between Paul, Anthony, Durant and Kobe Bryant, the team has some of the best last-shot takers in the NBA over the last 10 years.

The same cannot be said of the competition.

Ginobili and Parker have made some big shots in their careers for the San Antonio Spurs, but neither of their teams will likely give the US too much trouble in the games.

Spain, by far Team USA's biggest competition, lacks the personnel to compete with the US once the game is on the line.

Ibaka had some big games in the playoffs, but deferred to Durant or James Harden when the game was close. Pau Gasol folded and was nearly nonexistent for the Lakers down the stretch in last year's playoffs.

As currently complected, it would be be difficult for the best five non-US players in the world to compete with Team USA.

The clutch factor aside, Team USA's five exhibition Olympic tune-ups proved that this squad is loaded with enough skill and playmakers to repeat as this year's gold medalists.


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