Team USA Basketball 2012: Americans Who Will Determine the US' Fate in London
Team USA is the favorite to cruise to the gold medal in men's basketball at the 2012 London Olympics this summer, but it won't win it all if its key players are not on top of their games.
The Americans' boast Olympic gold medalists, NBA champions, MVPs and All-Stars, but only a handful of players will determine the United States' fate in London.
Here are the three players who will decide whether Team USA wins the gold.
The three-time NBA scoring champion, Kevin Durant will need to continue to do what he does so well in the NBA in the Olympics this summer if Team USA is to prevail with the gold. Durant's game is epitomized by his ability to knock down jump shots from anywhere and to draw fouls constantly when he opts to drive to the basket.
Against France, Durant scored 22 points in close to 28 minutes of play. Seven of Durant's points came at the free-throw line, nine more came from beyond the arc and the final six came from shots inside and around the paint. Durant's performance in Team USA's opener clearly proved his importance to the squad as well as his versatility as an elite offensive weapon.
Which player is most important to Team USA?
As Team USA's only true center, reigning NBA Defensive Player of the Year Tyson Chandler is the Americans' last line of defense in the paint and at the rim. Chandler reeled in nine rebounds in less than 11 minutes of play in the United States' rout of France in their Olympic opener on Sunday.
With Dwight Howard and Chris Bosh both recovering from injuries across the pond, Chandler has taken over the center role and will have to pick and choose his fouls responsibly, considering that players only get five in the Olympics, and he has no other centers behind him on the bench to fill his spot.
The reigning NBA MVP is Team USA's most important player this summer in London. James demonstrated how devastating he can be as a 6'8" passer in the United States' opener against France, in which he dished out eight assists in less than 25 minutes of floor time. As the American commentators pointed out time and again during the Sunday broadcast, James' height and size makes him a lethal play-maker for Team USA.
In addition to providing the consistent offensive spark for the US, James is one of the world's most dominant defensive players, excelling on the perimeter and down low on slower and smaller players. James had two steals against France and is the best in the world at turning defensive stops into quick, easy points on the other end. James finally has his NBA championship, and this summer he will be the one of the few Americans that determines Team USA's Olympic fate.
Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter for more reaction on the 2012 London Olympics this summer.
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