Olympics Basketball 2012: Crafting an International Team That Would Defeat USA
Team USA has been storming through the competition at the 2012 Olympics, and that doesn't look to be changing any time soon.
Especially after Spain suffered a surprising defeat at the hands of Russia, the Americans are the overwhelming favorites to take home a gold medal from the London games.
So, what if we could create an international super team that could defeat the USA?
All non-American players all eligible for the squad, even if they aren't currently competing at the Olympics.
Here's who would make up the 12-man roster.
Point Guard: Tony Parker
Not just the best international point guard in the world right now, Tony Parker is one of the better point guards in the NBA as well.
Just to be clear, I'm taking the non-goggled version of Parker onto this squad, though. That way, he's completely comfortable on the court. I'm also assuming he's learned not to hang out with Drake and Chris Brown.
Parker would be given control of the ball for the majority of the game, and pick-and-rolls would be set on nearly every play.
As effective as he can be with his French teammates, the sky is the limit for Parker during international competition with teammates like these.
Shooting Guard: Manu Ginobili
Manu Ginobili's game is almost perfectly crafted for Olympic play.
With his Eurostep and craftiness getting to the basket, Ginobili can draw fouls almost at will and create enough hesitance to guard him tight that he can fire up left-handed bombs from long-range whenever he wants.
Plus, Ginobili is already quite comfortable playing in the same backcourt as Tony Parker, and this super international squad still needs all the help that it can get.
Small Forward: Luol Deng
Luol Deng has impressed a lot of people with his play for Great Britain, but he's had to shoulder an impossibly large burden during the Olympics.
If he was surrounded by elite talent and not forced to be the team's primary option, he'd be all the more impressive.
On this team, Deng would still be allowed to score, but he wouldn't be forced to do so.
Instead, the Chicago Bulls forward could focus on his defensive play and shut down the best perimeter player that Team USA had on the court with his suffocating efforts on that side of the court.
Power Forward: Dirk Nowitzki
With no disrespect to a certain Spanish player who gets pushed to the bench, Dirk Nowitzki is the best international power forward in the world, and his game is perfectly designed for FIBA competition.
Dirk is also one of the top players at his position if you include the Americans, coming in at No. 2 in the power forward rankings behind only Kevin Love.
The German has plenty of touch from the outside, and his one-legged, kicking-back, falling-away flamingo shot is absolutely impossible to stop when he's banking it off the glass for two points with consistency.
Nowitzki's height and ability to spread the court would be problematic for the undersized Team USA.
Center: Marc Gasol
We have to have one of the Gasol brothers in the starting lineup, and on this team, it's Marc Gasol, the center for the Spanish national team and the Memphis Grizzlies.
Marc doesn't bring quite the same versatility that his brother does, but he is a massive seven-footer who plays like a true center.
Gasol is a great playmaker on the offensive end of the court, capable of scoring with a mid-range jumper, his back to the basket or through a teammate after a nice pass. He can also play solid defense in the paint.
Backup Point Guard: Steve Nash
Having Steve Nash come off the bench to distribute the ball among his talented teammates is quite the luxury.
The Canadian point guard would also be able to drain a few three-pointers and keep the defense guessing when he called his own number.
Nash, even at his advancing age, is one of the best floor generals in the world and would be the true leader of this second unit.
His passing skills are good enough that he might be able to average 10 assists per game off the bench.
Backup Shooting Guard: Ben Gordon
If there's any position at which this international team is weak, it would clearly be shooting guard.
This British shooting guard is past his prime, but he can still score the ball with effectiveness.
Ben Gordon has been forced into a headlining role during his last few seasons, something he's no longer suited for, but he'd thrive out of the spotlight on this squad.
His defensive efforts might be absolutely terrible, but Gordon's shot isn't completely gone yet and would look much better when it isn't being used far too often.
Backup Small Forward: Danilo Gallinari
You can never have enough offensive firepower off the bench, which is exactly why I'm including Danilo Gallinari instead of Nicolas Batum as the backup small forward.
The Italian is a tremendous scorer who makes for an automatic mismatch when he steps onto the court.
Gallo's breakout season was halted when injuries forced him out of the lineup, but the small forward was starting to show off his versatile scoring touch at an even higher level than normal.
Between his knack for drawing contact and his smooth stroke from the perimeter, Gallinari will get his points.
Backup Power Forward: Pau Gasol
Not much needs to be said about this one, as Pau Gasol is one of the top international players in the game and consistently proves it whenever the Olympics or other international events roll around.
The clear leader of Spain this year, Pau's talents make him perfectly suited for the FIBA style of play.
His passing skills allow the offense to run through him, and he can play both inside the paint and outside the three-point arc.
If any role needs to be filled by a power forward, this ostrich lookalike is more than capable of filling it.
Backup Center: Roy Hibbert
Even though Roy Hibbert was born in New York, his father was from Jamaica, and he's played internationally with the Jamaican national team.
That's enough for me to justify including him among the eligible players for this team.
Recently earning a max contract with the Indiana Pacers during free agency, Hibbert is a defensive force on the interior. That's something this second unit desperately needs since the backcourt is loaded with offensive firepower.
Hibbert can score capably, but he's by no means going to work from anywhere but the blocks. He won't need to if he's going to take advantage of Team USA's length issues.
Reserve Guard: Ricky Rubio
Our reserve guard is a healthy version of Ricky Rubio, one who brings all of his passing flair with him as he returns from his devastating ACL injury.
The Spanish point guard was sensational for the Minnesota Timberwolves when he was on the court. He could hit any teammate at any time, call his own number with a reasonable level of success and actually make the Wolves relevant again.
Rubio wouldn't do much scoring on this squad, but he'd help run a deadly transition offense and could make the USA defense suffer for any lapse in defensive concentration.
Reserve Big Man: Serge Ibaka
The last reserve spot goes to another big man. That way, this international team can continue to gain an advantage in the size department against the center-challenged American squad its going up against.
Serge Ibaka still needs to work on some of his defensive skills—primarily rotations—but his shot-blocking is a valuable asset for the team.
The Congolese big man who plays with Spain can also hit the pick-and-pop jumper, and his mid-range game is starting to develop at least a little bit of consistency.
He's not a go-to player on offense, but he isn't much of a liability there either.