2012 is here and that means the Olympics are only a few months away. Several teams have already qualified for the tournament thanks to last summer's regional championships. Team USA, having qualified for London thanks to the 2010 World Championship, has the deepest pool of potential players and yesterday the 19 guys on the preliminary roster was released to Sheridan Hoops. It goes as follows:
LaMarcus Aldridge, Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Chris Bosh, Kobe Bryant, Tyson Chandler, Kevin Durant, Eric Gordon, Blake Griffin, Dwight Howard, Andre Iguodala, LeBron James, Kevin Love, Lamar Odom, Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade, Russell Westbrook, Deron Williams.
Coach Mike Krzyzewski and Jerry Colangelo have to trim the roster to 12 from this 19. When putting the 2008 and 2010 teams, they looked for the best 5 to 8 players on their preliminary roster and then filled the rest out by need. LeBron, Kobe, Wade, Durant, Dwight Howard, Derrick Rose and Chris Paul are locks. Not a lot of consistent shooters on that team and also not a lot of size. Here's how I'd fill out the team:
PG: Chris Paul, Derrick Rose and Deron Williams.
-Sorry Russell Westbrook, but Deron's a better shooter than you, and you need shooting in international ball.
SG: Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, Eric Gordon
- Eric Gordon will step in to the Michael Redd "Just in case we need a shooter to zone bust" role.
SF: LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony
-Andre Iguadola is the toughest omission here. If it were me, I'd keep him and cut 'Melo. Iggy was so good playing off of Durant in 2010 and he, LeBron and Dwight would be killer in either a 2-3 or 1-3-1 zone. If I had to guess though, I'd say 'Melo wins out.
PF: Chris Bosh, LaMarcus Aldridge
-I think Odom is the first guy cut from the preliminary roster. Past that, I think you take Bosh and Aldridge because of their length on defense. Couple that with the fact that Blake's jumper just isn't there yet, which is critical for international ball. Love is tough because he rebounds better than both Bosh and Aldridge. The other thing to keep in mind is that these guys will be playing back up 5 more than the 4 because Durant is going to start at the 3 and LeBron at the 4.
C: Dwight Howard
Those are my predictions for Team USA. There are no Spurs on that roster, and I don't suspect a San Antonio Spurs player will make Team USA for several years to come. However, there are five current Spurs players or draft picks playing in the 2012 Olympics. Manu Ginobili (Argentina), Tony Parker (France), Tiago Splitter (Brazil), Nando de Colo (France), Ryan Richards (Great Britain), so Spurs fans will have plenty to look forward to come this summer. The Olympics begin July 28.