Monday, January 16, 2012

USA Basketball: 20 Finalists Announced

The 20 finalists for the USA Men's Basketball team in London in August are as follows:

Lamarcus Aldridge
Carmelo Anthony
Chauncey Billups
Chris Bosh
Kobe Bryant
Tyson Chandler
Kevin Durant
Rudy Gay
Eric Gordon
Blake Griffin
Dwight Howard
Andre Iguodala
Lebron James
Kevin Love
Lamar Odom
Chris Paul
Derrick Rose
Dwayne Wade
Russell Westbrook
Deron Williams

It's going to be interesting to see who makes the final 12-man roster.  There will definitely be some surprising cuts, as all of these players are supremely talented.  The key for the team is to find a good balance of slashers, scorers, and shooters, rather than simply picking the 12 best players.  Here are my predictions for the final 12-man roster.

Starting Lineup
PG- Chris Paul
SG- Dwayne Wade
SF- Lebron James
PF- Kevin Love
C- Dwight Howard

This starting five would have the best shot of any in London.  Chris Paul is a better fit at point guard than guys like Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook, simply because he has better court vision and passing ability to distribute to the other talented players on the court.  

The bench players below are ordered based on how much playing time I expect them to receive.  Kevin Durant is the obvious choice for sixth man, while Derrick Rose and Kobe Bryant will also see plenty of court time.

SF- Kevin Durant
PG- Derrick Rose
SG- Kobe Bryant
C- Tyson Chandler
SF- Carmelo Anthony
PF- Lamarcus Aldridge
PG- Deron Williams

Personally, I would rather have a guy like Iguodala over a guy like Carmelo, but on experience alone, I think Carmelo makes the team.  Chandler will also make the team as a big body in the middle when Dwight Howard needs a rest.  Aldridge is playing very well so far this year, and he would be nice to have to open up the floor for driving lanes, as he is a big man who can shoot.  If you take Griffin instead, you lack that mid-range ability in your second unit.  Deron Williams is the last guy on the roster, as he played well in Beijing in 2008.  He will need to improve his game mightily from where he is at this point in the season, however, with Russell Westbrook also on the list of finalists.

Players Left Off the Final Roster
SG- Chauncey Billups
PF- Chris Bosh
SF- Rudy Gay
SG- Eric Gordon
PF- Blake Griffin
SF- Andre Iguodala
PF- Lamar Odom
PG- Russell Westbrook

For guys like Gordon, Griffin, and Westbrook, their time will come.  Unfortunately, there are too many good players ahead of them to include them on this year's team.  They will definitely find plenty of international success in the near future.  Bosh, a member of the 2008 team, will be left off of this year's team for two reasons: the emergence of Blake Griffin, Kevin Love, and Lamarcus Aldridge, and his disappearing act in most games for the Miami Heat alongside Wade and Lebron.  As for Odom and Chauncey Billups, it seems as though their international careers will come to an end before London's Olympic Games even begin.

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