As I caught highlights of the USA Men’s Basketball team’s 116-85 drubbing of Australia, which left them just two wins shy of bringing back the Gold medal, I found myself thinking ahead to the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
Many of the players on the current team are unlikely to stay on for the next go. Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, Jason Kidd, Carlos Boozer, and Tayshaun Prince will likely pass on the chance to compete again—especially if they capture the Gold this year.
Bryant will be too focused on adding title rings to his fingers, Wade's knee is too iffy, Kidd will be retired, etc.
Sure enough, a friend's email sparked my imagination. I started thinking of potential replacements among the young guys in the NBA.
Fast-forwarding four years and projecting where they would be skill and talent-wise, I found myself coming up with more than enough names to replace those who will likely be gone. That led me to entertain myself with a list of players who I think would be gold-medal worthy.
There’s one catch.
I tried to come up with a team of players who have not competed in the Olympics before. So right off the bat, I've taken away LeBron James, Chris Paul and anyone else on the current team.
The criteria is simple:
- The player has never been on the Olympic team (FIBA is excluded).
- The player must currently be in the NBA (no college players).
- The player cannot be likely to compete for another international team.
- Roster limit is 12, composed of two point guards, three shooting guards, two small forwards, three power forwards, and two centers.
My team is as follows, in order of the depth chart:
Point Guards: Derrick Rose, Rajon Rondo
Shooting Guards: Joe Johnson, Caron Butler, Brandon Roy
Small Forwards: Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala
Power Forwards: Al Jefferson, Josh Smith, Michael Beasley
Centers: Greg Oden, Tyson Chandler
Why would this team work? Versatility, for one.
Offensively, you have a creator and slasher at point guard in Derrick Rose to compliment Joe Johnson and Kevin Durant—two players who like to shoot early and often.
Inside, you have the rebounding and offensive presence of Al Jefferson, who would be assisted by mainstay at center Greg Oden. In need for more offense? No problem. Put in Jefferson at center and Michael Beasley in at the four spot for a small, uptempo, quick-scoring lineup.
Defensively, a lineup of Rondo and Butler in the backcourt would suffocate any tandem of international guards. Iguodala brings hard-nosed defense to the small forward position, with arguably the most versatile player in the league, Josh Smith, at power forward. Oden, with his blocking and rebounding abilities, would be the center when the USA plans to go all defense.
More than capable backups of Brandon Roy and Tyson Chandler round out what I think to be a very talented and gold-medal worthy USA Men’s Basketball team for the 2012 Summer Olympics.
Have a problem with my team or have a better lineup to suggest? I’m all ears.