US Basketball… dreaming of Olympic gold

25 06 2008

The roster for the US basketball team for the Olympics was finalised with the addition of Tayshaun Prince. So the final roster for the Beijing Olympics will be:

  • Carmelo Anthony
  • Carlos Boozer
  • Chris Bosh
  • Kobe Bryant
  • Dwight Howard
  • LeBron James
  • Jason Kidd
  • Chris Paul
  • Tayshaun Prince
  • Michael Redd
  • Dwyane Wade
  • Deron Williams

Whilst this roster addresses the problems that the last Olympic team encountered – lack of perimeter shooting, the inclusion of Prince over Tyson Chandler means that there’s a decided dearth of big men in the team.
3.
That’s it.
Three.
This will mean that the US team will have a vulnerability against big, physical teams. If Howard, Bosh and Boozer get in foul trouble, then Team America could be in a world of hurt. Only taking one true center, and two big power forward? Umm… not overly bright.
Yes, Prince is a good perimeter defender who has length, but up ’til now Kobe Bryant’s played as the lock-down guy, so Prince is just gravy on that. The end result is that whilst having good flexibility, and generally being a more capable team – there is a frailty there that can be exploited… something that wasn’t necessary, had they included Chandler. Allowing in the very least for opponents to have a game plan – when they didn’t need to – just seems foolish.

This Olympic team will have some interesting story-lines too. Kobe Bryant will be searching for redemption in a gold medal post a stinging loss at the hands of the Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals. Kobe can reassert himself here, and take out some of the pain-of-defeat on the international courts. He’ll be looking at this as a way to build towards the next season, a season that the Lakers will start as one of the favoured teams.

Dwyane Wade has gone from being the Golden Child to a bit of an also-ran. From being THE guy in the 2006 Finals to being passed by Bryant (re-invented?), James, and Chris Paul… Wade will be trying to recreate the mystique that surrounded him on his successful NBA Finals only a few years ago. The Teflon Boy, to tin-man… in 2 mere seasons. Honestly? A little surprised at his selection for this squad – it will be interesting to see if he’s actually ready.

Carmelo Anthony takes more baggage to China than any other player. And none of it needs tags. Anthony will head to Beijing as the only *star* quality player in the team with a ‘For Sale’ sign in neon lights above him. Add to that the way he departed from the NBA Finals at the hands of Bryant’s Lakers… and ugh… that’s totally ignoring the legal issues that he has… the 2 game suspension placed on him by his team… and the oh-so-obvious difficulties he’s having with the Nuggets coach, George Karl.

Add to this the uncertainties that other players will have about their own circumstances – trades, hopes that their own franchises will be looking to build a better team around them, and all the vagaries that are associated with an off-season… well… suffice to say that this team will have other things on it’s mind other than Olympic basketball.

US basketball have done the right thing with having key guys surrounded by supporting role players. And maintaining a team situation with a long-term commitment. Anything less and this team wouldn’t be in with a shot, let alone being favourites.
But their mandate is clear: this year, you win.

All this makes for an interesting Olympics, the off-season’s certainly going to be busy.
Can the multitude of those seeking redemption through wearing their nation’s colours get the happy endings they so desire? I’m guessing that many will… but some won’t. The stories will deepen, that’s for sure.
An enthralling tournament… a veritable spectacle.
Looking forward to it.

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7 responses

26 06 2008
Mike

Who the heck on this team is going to play defense? Get ready for a 140-130 loss to Argentina in the Quarterfinals.

26 06 2008
Loren

The US can probably afford to go small in the Olympics, because what big men are they going to be facing?

Argentina: Luis Scola, who Boozer manhandled in the 2008 Playoffs

Lithuania: Zydrunas Ilgauskas is all but washed up, and Darius Songaila is hardly big. I guess there’s Antanas Kaviliauskas…

China: Yao Ming is there, but the real question is if China will make it out of the same group as both Spain and USA.

So the only team that matches us in size is Spain with Pau and Marc Gasol alongside Orlando Magic favorite Fran Vasquez. If you came in thinking that we would be walking over a team like Spain, who can probably field a starting line-up of capable NBA players (Calderon, Garbajosa, JC Navarro, Pau Gasol, and then soon to come Ricky Rubio and Marc Gasol), then you are in for a ruse awakening.

26 06 2008
Greenie

Please spell Dwyane correctly. Thanks.

26 06 2008
withmalice

Sheesh… not my fault his mother couldn’t spell correctly!
I kid, I kid…
Fixed – and thanks for pointing that out: stupid error!

26 06 2008
SOBBD

Mike:

Considering they’ve got one guy from the All-NBA Defensive First Team, and three more from the second team, I’d say plenty of guys are going to play defense. And given that not a single foreign player made either defensive team, I’ll think they’re going to be okay.

That said, I agree with the gist of With Malice’s article: they really should’ve found room for another big on this team.

26 06 2008
withmalice

The problem for me is that they have provided a game-plan for those with the bigs to implement it. One true center, two large power forwards… and that’s it?
Anyone with enough bodies to throw at them could put the US in quite a bit of trouble.
And I’m pretty sure it’ll be more than just Spain who envisage themselves able to beat the US.

5 07 2008
Seeking redemption with a ball « With Malice…

[…] thing that surprises me is (as mentioned in a previous post) the selection of Tayshaun Prince over Tyson Chandler. It allows for a game plan for opponents, a […]

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