As the United States men’s basketball team prepares for Argentina in the Olympic semifinals, the question has to be asked why Anthony Davis hasn't earned more playing time. When given playing time, Davis has looked impressive. His game may even be better suited for the Olympics than Tyson Chandler's.
As you know, Davis has yet to play a game in the NBA. He was a star at the University of Kentucky, and was drafted No. 1 overall in the 2012 NBA draft by the New Orleans Hornets.
After the knee injury to Blake Griffin prevented him from competing in the 2012 summer games, Davis was thrown into the lineup last second. In the Team USA's first game of the summer, Davis got playing time late against the Dominican Republic. He was impressive, even hitting an and-1 three.
In the Olympic tournament, Davis has played largely after the games have already become out of reach. He's played in five of six games, averaging 9.6 minutes per.
This year's men's squad has only three big men, by position, on its roster. With Dwight Howard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Chris Bosh and Blake Griffin sidelined by injuries, Team USA was left with a small pool of low-post options.
The three selected were Chandler, Davis and Kevin Love.
Love has emerged as a crucial player for Team USA. He's scored in double-digits in all but one game, all while rebounding at his usual high rate. Love has earned his playing time, which is the reason his playing time has increased.
Chandler was a crucial member to the 2010 World Championship team. On this roster, he's the only true center.
Despite being a starter and the only true center on Team USA, Chandler has played less than expected. To take advantage of their ungodly speed, Coach Mike Krzyzewski has played both LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony at center.
The five foul rule has also kept Chandler on the bench at times. Getting two quick fouls in the first half is impairing. If Chandler fouls out, Team USA would be stuck with Davis and Love as their only true big men.
But would that be such a bad thing? Davis has shown when given playing time that he can produce. He's been scoring at a consistent rate, while rebounding and disrupting shots. Davis is not Christian Laettner. If counted on, Davis could make an impact.
But with the gold medal on the line, Team USA doesn't want to know what it's like to play without Chandler.
The competition has been getting tougher each game for Team USA. When games get close, Team USA will need Chandler. He's a leader and won't crack under pressure.
The "hipster" idea that Davis may be a better option for Team USA is simply not true. Not yet in time, at least.
Chandler is by far the better big man for Team USA. With Argentina approaching, and Spain looming in the background, Team USA's best low-post defender is Tyson Chandler. He's played in the most big games, and is Team USA's best chance of slowing down the three-headed trio of the Gasol brothers and Serge Ibaka.
Davis has shown flashes of brilliant potential, but that doesn't mean he's ready to guard someone of Pau Gasol's level in the gold medal game. He's too inexperienced for Pau, and may not be strong enough to guard Marc Gasol yet.
Two years from now, Davis will likely be the better big man for Team USA in the World Championships. Davis will be an experienced NBA player by then. Chandler will be older, and Howard could regain his USA spot if he so chooses.
Davis' time will come. But for now, Team USA will need Chandler if it wants to complete its sweep of the 2012 Olympics and earn a gold medal.
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