Team USA Basketball 2012: Highlighting Top 5 Players Thus Far
As expected, Team USA has done nothing but dominate during the Olympics thus far.
They have a 3-0 record and have won by an average of 52.3 points.
Except for the fourth quarter against France, when the Americans entered the quarter up by 27 points and went into cruise control, Team USA has won every single quarter they’ve played in.
They’ve gotten stellar play out of their starters and even better play out of their bench.
Here are the top five players for Team USA through the first three games of the Olympics.
5. LeBron James
6.7 PPG, 5.7 APG, 3.0 RPG
LeBron James is on this list because of the energy he has brought to the team with his highlight reel dunks and defensive effort.
He has soared through the air for tremendous throwdowns on a few different occasions, but has not scored many points other than that. So far, James has only taken 15 field goals in the three games combined and has not been to the free throw line yet. He has yet to score in double figures in any game.
James has been a leader though with his ball distribution. He is currently second on the team in assists with 17, eight of them coming during the team’s closest game against France.
Even though he hasn’t been at his best yet, no one should worry about LeBron because you know he will step up when the competition improves and when his team needs him to.
4. Kevin Love
15.0 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 65.4 FG percentage
With the lack of size on this team, Kevin Love has been the primary center to sub in for Tyson Chandler. He has certainly taken advantage of this and has been a crucial member of Team USA thus far.
Believe it or not, Love is actually the third highest scorer on the team through three games, averaging 15.0 points per game. He has been stroking it from behind the arch, connecting on 7-of-13 attempts, and has been even more successful from inside of it, hitting 10-of-13.
Love has also been pretty successful on the glass. He is tied for third on the team in total rebounds, averaging 5.0 per game, and is tied for second on the team in offensive rebounds with four.
The one area he still has room for improvement is on defense. Love only has one block and one steal so far in three games. Those numbers will need to significantly increase when Love needs to guard players like the Gasol brothers of Spain or Luis Scola of Argentina.
3. Russell Westbrook
13.7 PPG, 2.7 APG, 1.7 SPG
Russell Westbrook has been my personal favorite player to watch so far in London.
Westbrook is just so tenacious on the defensive end. He gets after opposing point guards and is trying to force a turnover on every single possession. Westbrook is averaging the same amount of steals per game (1.7) during the Olympics as he did during the regular season, even though he played 35.3 minutes per game in the NBA and has only played 16.0 minutes per game in the Olympics.
Westbrook has also been dominating on the offensive end. He has been getting to the rim with ease, which has helped him post a 59.1 field goal percentage. His driving the lane has also helped him get to the line 16 times, which is good for first on the team.
Russell Westbrook needs to keep up the intensity since the rest of the team feeds off of it.
2. Kevin Durant
16.3 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 4.3 APG
After not starting in the majority of the exhibition games prior to the Olympics, Kevin Durant has started all three games in London.
Durant is the three-time NBA scoring champ and has carried that success over to the Olympics. He is currently second on the team in scoring with 16.3 points per game. Even though he’s already tied for the team lead in field goal attempts with 32, his coaches and teammates are begging him to be more aggressive and shoot even more.
Durant had this to say in an interview after the team’s first win over France,
“Sometimes coach was screaming at me. And Chris Paul was screaming at me more than anybody, ‘Shoot the ball!’ I guess I’ve got to be aggressive.”
Durant has also been one of the leading rebounders and defenders on the team as well. He is leading the team in rebounds with 6.7 rebounds per game, including a nine-rebound game against France and a 10-rebound game against Tunisia. He also is the team leader in combined blocks and steals with six.
As the games get tougher, Team USA will rely more and more on Durant to carry the scoring load for them.
1. Carmelo Anthony
20.7 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 75.0 three-point percentage
No team has found an answer for Carmelo Anthony’s scoring ability.
Even though he’s only playing 14.3 minutes per game, which is ninth on the team, Melo is still the only player on the team who is scoring more than 20 points per game. He has actually hit more threes than twos so far and has a three-point percentage of 75 percent.
The highlight of the entire tournament so far has to be Anthony’s performance against Nigeria. He only played 14:29, but still managed to hit a remarkable 10 three-pointers and set the Team USA record for most points in a game with 37.
With the lack of size on the team, Melo has also been asked to be one of the leading rebounders and to guard bigger players on defense. He has come through for his team and is tied for third on the team in rebounds per game with five.
If he keeps playing the way he has been, Carmelo Anthony will be recognized as the imaginary tournament MVP instead of teammates LeBron James, Kevin Durant or Kobe Bryant.