The final roster that will represent the United States in Olympic men’s basketball has been set and is comprised of players who have almost all played for Team USA before.
LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Kevin Love, Russell Westbrook, Tyson Chandler, Blake Griffin, Andre Iguodala, and James Harden are headed to London later this month to compete for the gold medal. They are the favorites to win.
Griffin and Harden are the only players on the roster to have not played on Team USA in international competition before. They, along with Iguodala, were the final three players to be added to the roster. They beat out the likes of Eric Gordon and Rudy Gay, who played on the FIBA World Championship team in 2010, and Anthony Davis, the first overall selection in the 2012 NBA Draft.
Team USA was plagued with former members withdrawing from eligibility throughout the month of June. Dwyane Wade, Dwight Howard, Chris Bosh, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Derrick Rose, all who were locks to play in London, opted out of play, mostly due to injuries.
The omission of such All Stars led some to be concerned about the United States’ chances at defending the gold. However, with the roster they have assembled for London, those doubts should vanish.
The final three players selected are essentially no brainers. Harden, who had a rather rough time in the NBA Finals, is a good scorer with size who should do well in international competition coming off the bench. He an Gordon are almost interchangeable in terms of scoring ability but Harden is lengthier and has a knack for long range shots.
Iguodala played a crucial role on the “B-Team” during the Worlds in Turkey in 2010. He was the premier perimeter defender on the squad with his defense leading to plenty of transition opportunities for a team that was lightning fast.
As for Griffin making the roster over Davis, well, yeah, of course. If Davis and his propensity to groom himself as an homage to Frida Kahlo had made the roster he would be relegated to the role of Christian Laettner. Griffin is there because he can do this and this and this. Frederick Weis should be glad he doesn’t play anymore.
Though Chandler is the only legitimate center on the team, Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski has shown a willingness, especially with the 2010 team, to employ an unconventional or hybrid lineup. This incarnation of Team USA presents matchup options across the board with James’ ability to post up, Durant’s length and shooting ability, and Love’s ability to stretch the floor, opening up lanes for the likes of Westbrook, Williams, and virtually every player on the roster. And as Marc Stein points out, this team has some pretty good jump shooters as well.
Starting lineups have yet to be set but it would not be surprising if Chandler came off the bench depending on the matchups. This is the best team heading into the Olympics. Spain is a close second but they do not have the shear determination to win that Bryant brings to the table. That and the bonuses from all the endorsements.