The U.S. men’s basketball team completed their roster with the announcement of Blake Griffin, James Harden and Andre Iguodala as the final three players. The U.S. didn’t have a challenge until the gold medal game in the 2008 Summer Olympics when they turned back Spain and a similar competition is expected this time around.
Let’s take a look and see what you can expect when Team USA takes the floor in preliminary action, beginning July 29, against France.
Five of the 12 players on Team USA were part of the gold medal team from four years ago: LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Deron Williams and Kobe Bryant. Five other players were part of the U.S. World Championship team in 2010: Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Tyson Chandler, Andre Iguodala and Kevin Love. This gives the U.S. plenty of international experience to draw on when it comes to competition. Griffin and Harden are the lone players without international experience.
The possibilities for starting lineups are endless which such a collection of talent available for Mike Krzyzewski to choose from. If I was in Coach K’s shoes, I’d go with the lineup of Chandler at center, Griffin at power forward, Durant at small forward, Bryant at shooting guard and Paul running the point. If the premise was to be an up-tempo team, Chandler and Griffin could easily be substituted with Love at center and James playing the power forward role, along with incorporating Williams or the slashing Westbrook in at point guard. There is no wrong answer as far as constructing a lineup for Team USA.
There is no shortage of potential leaders on the team either. With veterans like James and Bryant on the team, it’s easy to project the younger players looking to them given their success at the highest level of competition. Anthony, Paul and Williams can be counted on to help shoulder that load as well given their Olympic experience. There is a good mix of veterans and youth on the team, which bodes well in both the short and long term as players like Griffin, Durant and Westbrook can be the cornerstone of future Olympic teams.
Strengths and Weaknesses
One of the biggest strengths of Team USA is their experience. Ten of 12 players on the roster have played in international competition and that is something that cannot be overlooked. Each of the players on the team is capable of making clutch plays, which will be crucial, especially if a rematch against Spain comes up in the medal round.
Another major strength is the ability to score on the offensive end and push the ball in transition. The team is loaded with dynamic scorers who are capable of either working within the parameters of an offense or creating their own opportunities. Of the 12 players on the roster, eight averaged at least 20 points per game for their NBA clubs last season, while Chris Paul averaged 19.8 a game.
The team’s biggest weakness is a lack of depth at the center position. Chandler is the one true center on the team, which means that Griffin or Love will have to play out of position to spell Chandler at times. Injuries prevented the U.S. from adding more size to their lineup. A team like Spain could make this an issue in the medal round with their interior players.
What’s your take on Team USA and their chances in London?