Olympic Basketball 2012: Who Takes the Last Shot for Team USA?

Adam FromalNational NBA Featured ColumnistJuly 31, 2012

UNSPECIFIED - UNDATED - In this handout photo from Nike, USA Basketball team members Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Deron Williams and Kevin Durant wear the Nike HyperElite uniform made from recycled plastic bottles. (Photo by Nike via Getty Images)
Handout/Getty Images

If Team USA somehow finds itself in a close game during the 2012 Summer Olympics at London, who takes the last shot? 

Is it LeBron James, clearly the best basketball player in the world and a man who just won his first NBA title?

Is it Kobe Bryant, who has been an alpha dog throughout his career and is more used to taking the last shot than anyone else?

What about Kevin Durant, the best scorer in basketball? 

Most basketball teams have a closer. They know to whom the ball is going when the game is coming down to the wire and they find themselves trailing or tied on the last possession of the contest. 

Team USA doesn't have that luxury. 

However, in the case of these Olympics, that's a positive.

We aren't talking about the Charlotte Bobcats, who would just get confused if they ever needed a final shot that actually mattered. We're talking about a de facto All-Star team with almost too many potent offensive options. 

For Team USA, the player who takes the last shot is whoever is open. Unless, of course, that player is Tyson Chandler or Anthony Davis, the two players who are much more offensively challenged than the other players on the squad. 

The Americans should put the ball in LeBron's hands and trust him to make the right decision with the game on the line. 

If the upstart opponents choose to let him go to work in a one-on-one situation, James can take the ball to the hoop or pull up for a game-winning jump-shot attempt. If they double-team him and leave someone else uncovered, then LeBron is fully capable of using his playmaking skills to find the open guy. 

Giving LeBron the ball in the closing seconds gives the Americans more opportunities than any other choice because of his dual-threat nature. 

Ideally, Durant is the guy left open and his pure shooting stroke swishes the ball through the net for two or three points. Even if it's not the Oklahoma City Thunder small forward taking the shot, the other options aren't exactly bad. 

LeBron is the man who must control the situation, though. You know, if it's actually necessary.