Team USA Basketball 2012: How Coach K Can Use Anthony Davis in Crucial Moments

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistAugust 6, 2012

One of the biggest takeaways from Team USA's 99-94 nail-biting victory over Lithuania in Olympic competition Saturday was that it fully established coach Mike Krzyzewski's rotation of trust.

Not part of that rotation was 19-year-old power forward Anthony Davis, who received Team USA's first "DNP—Coaches' Decision" of the 2012 Olympics.

Though Davis' strong play has drawn effusive praise from U.S. coaches and players alike, it's understandable that Coach K would want to keep any unneeded pressure off the New Orleans Hornets' No. 1 pick.

But if Davis has taught us anything so far, it's to not doubt how much of an impact the former Kentucky Wildcat can have on a game. And at some point in the tournament, circumstance may dictate Team USA relying on the teenager to pick up some late-game minutes.

With that in mind, here is a look at a few ways Team USA could use Davis in late-game situations.

 

Interior Defender If Tyson Chandler Is in Foul Trouble

Also noticeably absent from Coach K's trust circle was Chandler, who played just eight minutes against Lithuania despite staying out of foul trouble.

While Team USA is certainly a better offensive team with their small ball lineup, Lithuania's 58.5 percent shooting performance should give some indication of what it does defensively.

And with Spain likely looming at some point for Team USA, Coach K will need to trust Chandler more in the elimination round.

But if Chandler's foul troubles in exhibition play are any sign of what's coming when he receives extended minutes, that could mean plenty of late-game runs for Davis.

LeBron James can defend power forwards masquerading as centers in international competition. But he cannot provide what Team USA needs from him on the offensive end and guard legitimate seven-footers.

So the U.S. will need to rely on one of their two defensive specialists to handle the task against Spain or any other team that throws a big lineup at Coach K.

 

Free-Throw Rebounding Specialist

One of the oldest basketball coach tactics is to use rebounding specialists in situations where grabbing a defensive rebound off a free-throw miss is crucial.

If Team USA uses their timeouts judiciously in a close game that comes down to a free-throw contest, then Davis could be the perfect specialist.

He's one of a very limited number of players in the seven-foot range in London and was widely regarded as one of the best rebounders in college basketball last season.

While it seems like a negligible and semi-demeaning task, grabbing those rebounds could be the difference between Team USA winning gold or getting upset in elimination games.

 

Transition Finisher

Though Davis is certainly still raw on the offensive end of the floor, he's actually one of the better transition big men in recent memory.

His time as a point guard in high school served him well by giving him elite floor spacing knowledge and his unbelievable athleticism is fodder for some jaw-dropping slams.

With Team USA's strongest offensive part coming in transition, the team actually loses very little with Davis on the floor instead of Chandler offensively.

And if Chandler is either ineffective or gets into foul trouble, it could be the perfect opportunity for Davis to shine.

You know, like he has when given a chance at every level of play in his young career.

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