Team USA Basketball: Why Anthony Davis Deserves More Playing Time
Before the greatest men's basketball team was ever assembled for that historical 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, the United States would always compile the best crop of college basketball players to compete in the Olympic games.
The last four summer Olympic games since 1992 have featured the NBA's top American talent and resulted in three gold medal and one bronze medal performances.
In the midst of the fifth summer games since the USA men changed the Olympic basketball landscape, they are 5-0 so far in the 2012 campaign, and they have their eye on the gold once again.
Thanks in large part to the 1992 Dream Team, we are lucky to watch the best American players in the world do what they do best against different countries from all over the world. It's so special to get to watch guys like Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul play together because the Olympics provides a stage that the NBA All-Star game can't even produce.
While it's incredible to watch these superstars impose their will as the world watches, America needs to see more playing time from Anthony Davis, the 19-year-old phenom who replaced Blake Griffin after he suffered a medial meniscus tear in his left knee.
Let's take a look at why the overall No. 1 pick in the 2012 NBA Draft deserves more minutes in the Olympics.
He Is the First Collegiate Player Since Christian Laettner
For the first time since the 1992 Dream Team came together, there will be a player on the USA team who does not have any professional experience coming in. The last man to hold that honor was one of Coach K's favorites, Christian Laettner. He was the 12th man on that 1992 team which had 11 bound Hall of Famers on it.
The 2012 team doesn't have 11 guys going to the Hall of Fame and if Laettner could even make that '92 team, then Davis can and should be able to play significant minutes on this team.
Davis Is No Slouch
Nobody disputes the fact that Anthony Davis isn't on the same level as his MVP, All-Star and championship-caliber teammates, but he does have a resume that should not to be overlooked.
All he's done is win the National Championship his freshman season at Kentucky, take home the NCAA men’s Player of the Year award and subsequently get drafted No. 1 overall by New Orleans in the 2012 NBA Draft.
Davis has a rare opportunity and honor to display his talent globally. Coach K needs to let him play more than the 45 minutes he's gotten so far.
Now Is the Time to See What Davis Has Got
So far in these Olympics the men's victories have been pretty lopsided except for the 99-94 win over Lithuania on August 4, that they were able to squeak out. Team USA needs to play Davis more than the 11.3 minutes he's averaging, especially since the games haven't been competitive.
As the next face of basketball in the NBA, it would be great to see him play with established NBA talents and against hungry young talents from all over the world.
Comparison to Russell
I know a lot of you are thinking that it's crazy to argue that the unproven "professional" Anthony Davis deserves more minutes on a team that includes Kobe, Melo, Durant, LeBron and so on.
When coaches like Bob Knight and Rick Pitino go on the record and compare Anthony Davis to Bill Russell, the greatest NBA Champion ever with 11 rings, what is it that they see that Coach K doesn't see?
Is it possible that the all-world Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski has some pent up resentment towards a certain someone for playing at Kentucky instead of Duke?
I highly doubt it, but doesn't Krzyzewski know that there is no substitute for experience?
Marketing the NBA Globally
Davis should definitely be getting more playing time—if for no other reason than to associate his name and face with a sport that David Stern is so desperately trying to expand globally.
Especially since four of the five games that the USA men's team has played have been blowouts, it makes a lot of sense to play him more minutes. The Summer Olympics are only every four years and this is a golden opportunity to unveil a new name to the world.
The universe already knows Kobe, LeBron and Durant. As long as USA keeps winning, Davis needs to play significant minutes and represent the next wave of American talent.