Updated Power Ranking of Team USA's Entire Roster

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistAugust 6, 2012

Updated Power Ranking of Team USA's Entire Roster

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    Statistics have their place in sports media and in sports debate, but they often fail to capture the entire story.

    For instance, Team USA has enjoyed a combined 88-point margin of victory in their last two contests.

    What that number fails to mention, however, is that one of those games was a record-breaking 156-73 thrashing of Nigeria while the other was a nail-biting 99-94 escape over Lithuania on Saturday (the smallest margin of victory for Team USA since 2000).

    With this in mind, it's important to look beyond the numbers to determine the pecking order of this installment of Team USA.

    While these four victories may not have shed any insight into this team's chance at a gold medal, it has given some insight into which players will play the biggest roles in that pursuit. Here's how the 12 players rank after four Olympic games.

12. Anthony Davis

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    In his defense, Davis was not supposed to be on this team.

    First, Chris Bosh opted to forgo the Olympics and focus on recovering from an abdominal strain that cost him nine playoff games. Then Bosh's replacement, Blake Griffin, suffered a meniscus tear in his left knee that cost him his Olympic spot.

    So the height-starved Americans turned to Davis, who has yet to appear in even an NBA Summer League game.

    The first player to register a DNP (Did Not Play) in Saturday's narrow victory, Davis will likely battle for garbage minutes for the rest of the tournament.

11. James Harden

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    Like Davis, Harden inherited his roster spot via injury—in this case, a knee surgery that cost Dwyane Wade his Olympic trip.

    A rising star for the league's rising franchise (Oklahoma City Thunder), Harden has struggled to make much noise, other than apparently getting crossed over against Nigeria, which Harden denies.

    His role with the Thunder is to be an outside threat to space the floor for slashers (and fellow Olympic teammates) Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant. He also typically handles lead guard duties when he sees the floor.

    On Team USA, though, coach Mike Krzyzewski enjoys a plethora of knock-down shooters who bring more multifaceted games to the floor. In addition, with three point guards on the roster (Westbrook, Deron Williams and Chris Paul), his playmaking abilities are not nearly as needed.

10. Andre Iguodala

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    If LeBron James were not on this team, Iguodala might rank in the top five.

    The do-it-all forward is one of the NBA's best individual defenders (regardless of position), and his versatile skill set allows him to fill stat sheets like Olympic betting slips.

    But James is on the team, and he brings that same versatile skill set (and then some) along with an extra two inches in height and over 40 pounds, which allows James to play anywhere on the floor.

    Iguodala is talented enough to see meaningful minutes after Team USA breaks from preliminary play, but he's not quite talented enough to make a major impact on most nights.

9. Russell Westbrook

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    Along with Oklahoma City's run to being the most intriguing team in the NBA came Westbrook's ascension up the NBA's point guard ladder.

    His detractors noted his turnovers (3.62 per game) and subpar three-point shot (31.6 percent) as reasons to keep him out of the discussion, but his scoring (23.6) and rebounding (4.6) kept him in the mix.

    As for his Olympic run, Team USA's Westbrook has closely resembled the Thunder's Westbrook.

    His two assists per one turnover and streaky shooting have kept him entrenched as the third-best point guard on the team, but his tenacious defense has likewise kept him entrenched in the rotation.

8. Kobe Bryant

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    The elder statesman of the American team, Bryant no longer possesses the scoring or defensive prowess of his younger peers.

    But his veteran savvy and experience has kept him productive enough to warrant his starting spot.

    This may be the last list involving Bryant where he's slotted this low, but his forgettable shooting performance on the Olympic stage (11-for-26 through four games) warrants the position.

    It's hard to imagine his competitiveness not lifting his play as the lights get brighter over the next few games.

7. Tyson Chandler

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    With regard to statistics not telling the entire story, Chandler may be the prime example.

    Here's a glance at his totals through Team USA's first four contests: 19 points, 21 rebounds, three blocks. Those are totals, not averages.

    They're anything but earth-shattering numbers, but as the lone true center on Krzyzewski's roster, Chandler's importance cannot be overstated.

    With a potential matchup looming with Spain's vaunted front line of the Gasol brothers (Pau and Marc), Chandler's biggest impact may be forthcoming.

6. Kevin Love

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    The centerpiece of the NBA's sexiest sleeper franchise for the 2012-13 season (Minnesota Timberwolves), Love appears to have one of the best-suited games for international play.

    He's a gifted outlet passer and a knockdown shooter, both areas that he's already displayed on the world's grandest stage.

    As the competition level increases, Love's minutes may decrease, as his playing time has mirrored Team USA's margin of victory.

    But as for his impact for games played to date, he's had his fingerprints all over these four victories.

5. Deron Williams

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    After his shocking departure from the Utah Jazz in 2011, Williams manned some underwhelming (OK, terrible) New Jersey Nets teams and saw his stock around the league fall with it.

    Well, in case anyone has forgotten just how talented he is, Williams has reminded us all of his incredible skill set...and just in time for his reintroduction as leader of an elite NBA franchise, no less.

    His creativity with the basketball and ability to stretch the floor with his outside shot will both be leaned on at times by Krzyzewski.

    He may not fill a stat sheet as full as Chris Paul does, but his ability to take and make big-time shots will continue to be an asset for Team USA.

4. Chris Paul

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    Although not the end-all, be-all of judging a player's value, statistics do manage to sometimes correctly gauge one's impact.

    How does this relate to Paul? How about these nifty numbers: six-plus assists in three of four games and two-plus steals in three of four games?

    Like Williams, Paul saw his stock around the league take a hit as he battled injuries at the same time that rising point guards (notably Derrick Rose and Rajon Rondo) threatened his place atop the NBA's point guard landscape.

    But when healthy, there may not be a more talented point guard in the league. He can change games on both ends of the floor, and he could increase his scoring (5.3) if Krzyzewski needs him to increase his field-goal attempts (5.5).

3. Kevin Durant

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    If Durant had rebounded the past two games (2.5) like he did in the first two games (9.5), he would have a spot in the top two.

    But with names like Bryant, Williams, Westbrook, (Carmelo) Anthony and (LeBron) James on the roster, Durant's scoring ability has not been as vital as it is on the Thunder.

    Even still, his 14.0 points per game have been impressive considering he's logged just 24.0 minutes a night.

    And the NBA's reigning three-time scoring champion has the kind of firepower that makes him capable of moving up the rankings even with his talented teammates.

2. Carmelo Anthony

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    After a forgettable 3-for-10 showing in the opening victory over France, Anthony reminded us all that this is what he does.

    Just like in Beijing in 2008, Anthony has emerged as one of the most reliable options on the offensive end, highlighted by an American Olympic record 37-point outburst (on 13-for-16 shooting) in Team USA's record-setting win over Nigeria.

    Anthony has the size (6'8", 220 lbs) and strength to match up with the power forwards of international basketball and the quickness to match up with any small forwards he'll encounter.

    Team USA's leading scorer (20.5 points per game) already, he has the alpha dog mentality that Durant is still working to develop and Bryant is trying to rediscover.

1. LeBron James

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    In today's "what have you done for me lately?" sports media coverage, a month-and-a-half can be a generation.

    So in case anyone had forgotten since James' Heat toppled the Thunder in the NBA Finals on June 21, the King has reminded us all that he is the best player on the planet.

    With a tight end's build and a point guard's vision, James has joined that rarefied company of being the game's best offensive and defensive player at the same time.

    He's shot the ball well when needed (18-for-29), and his nine points in the final four minutes of Saturday's victory was just the latest in what's quickly becoming one of the most impressive basketball portfolios of all time.