Team USA Basketball: Dwight Howard and Players Who Would Make USA Even Better
The 2012 USA Basketball team participating in the London Olympic games right now is one of the best collections of talent on the planet, and maybe in history, so it is scary to think it could have been much better if players like Dwight Howard and Derrick Rose had joined.
There are a variety of players that were either unable to commit to the team or simply chose not to for certain reasons. Had certain players joined Team USA, it likely would have resulted in a better roster than the '92 Dream Team.
Here are who players who could have made the 2012 Team USA roster much better:
Listing the 2010-2011 NBA MVP seems like a no-brainer, but Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls, at the very least, deserves a mention.
Rose's play-style may not perfectly suit the international game, but it would be a laughably bad decision to leave him off of the Team USA roster had he been available.
Unfortunately for Rose and basketball fans around the world, he suffered a torn ACL in the NBA playoffs, which not only cost him the 2012 Olympics, but a shot at an NBA title.
Had Rose been healthy, the Miami Heat may not have won the title this year, and we would be looking at a very different Team USA roster.
After winning the 2012 NBA title, Dwayne Wade elected to not join Team USA because of an impending knee surgery, as first reported by the AP (h/t ESPN). Wade made it very clear that he wanted to do what was best for his career:
"I've decided to listen to my doctors and get the procedure I need on my knee," Wade told The Associated Press on Thursday. "USA Basketball said I had to do what was best for me. They want me to be obviously as healthy as possible so I can continue to play this game at a high level. They were very supportive and told me if I ever want to come around the team, I'm welcome and that I'm part of the family."
Had Wade decided to forgo the surgery and play, Team USA would be much better.
Right now the roster is not getting much out of the shooting guard position. Kobe Bryant is older and not playing much, which means that point guards are playing the position instead.
If Wade were healthy, Team USA would have a legit 2-guard to soak up minutes and score at will.
Eric Gordon, like his fellow New Orleans Hornets teammate Anthony Davis, was named an alternate for Team USA after the tryouts and did not make the trip across the lake for the Olympics. Of course, Davis went on to be accepted while Gordon stayed back home in the States.
The decision to let Gordon walk in hindsight was not the best one. The aforementioned struggles of Kobe Bryant and the players working out of position are a direct result of Wade not being able to make the team and Gordon being left off the roster.
In Gordon's place sits James Harden, who seems like more of a big-name selection than a talent selection. Harden has not done much yet, whereas someone of Gordon's borderline elite talent might have provided a massive boost to Team USA.
LaMarcus Aldridge is quietly one of the best big men in the entire NBA. His ability to play both power forward and center are something Team USA could have really used.
Instead, Aldridge decided he simply did not feel like playing in 2010, which essentially eliminated him from consideration this year.. Add in a season-ending hip injury, and USA is suddenly without one of the better big men in the NBA.
That decision cost Team USA dearly considering it was one of the factors that contributed to Anthony Davis making the final roster—an NBA rookie who has yet to play a game of NBA basketball.
Team USA will not directly lose because of Aldridge's decision, but it does not help either. His scoring prowess and defensive abilities are missed as we speak.
Blake Griffin of the Los Angeles Clippers was a member of Team USA at one point this year, but hurt his knee in practice with the team and had to be removed from the roster.
The injury is unfortunate for Griffin, and really hurts the team.
Griffin is a force in the paint, on both offense and defense. His absence from the games is yet another reason Anthony Davis was allowed to make the team.
At this point Team USA has not suffered drastically because of the absences of Aldridge and Griffin, but it could be an issue down the road.
And, it would have been fun to see Griffin put up highlights at will against international opponents.
Dwight Howard is the biggest name on this list, and also the one that hurts Team USA the most.
D12 is the most dominant force in the basketball world, and he would have absolutely decimated any and all international competition in the paint this year.
Instead, Howard was forced to miss because of back surgery.
Had Howard been able to go, any question marks about the team's ability to compete below the basket would have never been asked. No team in the tournament would have been able to score in the paint, or even drive and kick-out to facilitate the offense.
Team USA might still come away with the gold in London, but it will be much more difficult to do thanks to the absence of Howard.