Thursday, August 16, 2007
From The U.S., You Just Lay Down Slow
After taking a few losses too many in past competitions, the USA Basketball Team got its mind right, money right, and is ready for war. (We're still run by Dubya Bush, after all.)
In 2002, Team USA came in 6th at the World Championships. 3rd in '04. 3rd in '06. Our aura of invincibility is pretty much over and it's back to proving we still running this world hoops shit.
Before Jerry Colangelo took over USA Basketball in 2005, the squads were always glorified All-Star fantasy teams in the same vein as the dominant '92 Dream Team and the slightly-less dominant '96 gold medal team.
Not anymore. Colangelo and coach Mike Krzyzewski have devoted their time to fielding a squad of more than just the league's biggest names, but an actual real team. There are scorers, slashers, shooters, defenders, big men, and distributors.
The USA roster has to trimmed from 15 to 12 by next week, so I'll look at the team and see who should be in and who should be gonzo. Keep in mind the number of players to withdraw from USA Camp to injury or personal reasons (Paul, Bosh, Battier, Hinrich, Wade, Brand, etc.)
Jason Kidd - Any team with that features Kidd is automatically dangerous. He's simply the best pg in the world. Period. He'll get everyone open shots, even in the midst of a zone. Just remember this: He's 33-0 in USA Basketball competition.
Kobe Bryant - The best individual player in the world. Period. Kobe's competitiveness alone will fuel the team as he'll definitely bring out the best in the likes of Lebron James and Carmelo Anthony.
Michael Redd - The team needs scorers and shooters, and Redd fits both categories.
Chauncey Billups - Another point guard who doubles as a versatile scorer and consistent shooter.
Mike Miller - One of the league's best shooters can play either swingman position.
Lebron James - Even though his game doesn't fit the international game at all, he's still the most talented basketball player on the planet. (Not best, but most talented.) If he can get into the zone D, his passing will definitely come in handy.
Carmelo Anthony - Last summer's team star will provide the team with consistent scoring and mid to long range shooting and competitiveness.
Tayshaun Prince - With Battier pulling out, the squad needs another wing defender, which is Prince's description to a tee.
Kevin Durant - The wild card of USA Basketball. He can shoot the lights out when he's hot, plus he can score in and out and defend inside with his length. I say he stays.
Amare Stoudemire - Improved mid-range shooting makes him more dangerous in international competition.
Dwight Howard - Will dominate inside with his beast-like dunks and shot-blocking; also will continue his domination of the offensive and defensive boards.
Tyson Chandler - Will contribute to Howard's rebounding advantage and will be effective with his shot-blocking.
The major notable cut would be Deron Williams; and I made that cut in favor of Chandler, who is needed with Bosh's withdrawal due to injury. Billups makes it over him with his outside shooting.
Now, with all that said, the Olympics aren't until '08 and a lot of the players should be better/healthy. There's nothing like international embarrassment to motivate Americans to start kicking ass again.