Team USA – 2012 Edition

It’s one of sports best attributes, one of the things that every sports fan does day in, day out. It causes arguments in bars nationwide, will cause best friends to act like 7 year olds bickering in a school playground, but everyone does it. I do it – a lot. Every NBA fan does it – a lot. It’s called “Crystal Ball Gazing”, trying to predict who’ll win this Championship, who’ll win MVP etc., it’s one of the funnest things involved in sports, and today’s “Crystal Ball Gazing” will focus entirely on Team USA.

As we’ve all read (several hundred times) no Redeem Team players will be featured in the upcoming World Championship. You know; because they felt like they needed a summer off to focus on Free Agency, try to force a trade or shop for a new house. Team USA that will tip-off the Championships this summer features a host of old heads mixed with young upstarts to form a formidable roster.

That roster in full is as follows:

Chauncey Billups

Steph Curry

Eric Gordon

Derrick Rose

Russell Westbrook

Lamar Odom

Kevin Love

Andre Iguodala

Danny Granger

Rudy Gay

Kevin Durant

Tyson Chandler

Pretty daunting right? While not having the obvious star appeal as a LeBron-Wade-Bryant-Howard team, this team is pretty talent laden. You have MVP in the waiting Kevin Durant, some of the best young point guards currently alive, a versatile frontline and a veteran head coach in Mike Krzyzewski. But not all players last forever, and not all players commit themselves to USA basketball every summer a tournament comes around. 2012 isn’t that far away, Olympic Gold up for Grabs in London, wouldn’t it be nice for Team USA to retain those sparkly gold medals earned in 2008?

You know it’s already on the mind of Brian Colangelo and the rest of the brain trust involved, and now it’s on mine. So taking into consideration that none of the Redeem Team will be present this summer, I’m applying the same criteria for 2012 – completely new roster.

So without further delay, your 2012 Team USA Olympic Roster. (I’m breaking my roster down as follows; 4 guards, 2 bigmen, 6 wings – and no Redeem Team players):

Guards

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John Wall, Washington Wizards. 2010 Team USA has Rose as their bullet-legged point guard, 2012 Team USA will have John Wall. What are the odds on Wall’s first two years in the NBA being a mirror of Rose’s first two statistically?

Rajon Rondo, Boston Celtics. 2010’s loss will be 2012’s gain; as two more years of his (rapid) development and he should be ready to lead USA’s charge for Gold in London. He’d also be one of my captains.

Tyreke Evans, Sacramento Kings. Steph Curry’s shooting is the X Factor amongst guards this summer; Evans size, speed and robust strength will be that in two years time.

Brandon Jennings, Milwaukee Bucks. Wouldn’t get the majority of the minutes in the backcourt, but he’d be my “Dwyane Wade of 2008″, instant offensive punch off the pine with speed that will not be matched anywhere.

Wings/Forwards

Gordon Hayward, Utah Jazz. Great shooter, great size, will have learned a disciplined system with Coach Sloan – a lock in my eyes. Well, if LeBron and Melo announce they’ll suit up, not so much a lock.

LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland Trailblazers. Stretch four who will be versatile enough to see minutes at the five spot, ala Lamar Odom. Plus, my team will be built to run the floor a lot, there aren’t many power forwards better at doing that.

Jeff Green, Oklahoma City Thunder. Doesn’t have the shooting ability to play the three in the NBA, but internationally maybe he could slot in, but he’ll be used primarily at the four where he thrives.

Brandon Roy, Portland Trailblazers. My other captain, and my closer if needed. Silky smooth NBA game would translate effortlessly to the national scene, he’d be the undisputed leader of my team.

Paul Pierce, Boston Celtics. Hear me out with the Pierce choice. Beijing we (well, ye) had Jason Kidd as the old head, 2010 has Chauncey Billups, why can’t Pierce be the 2012 elder statesman? He’ll be 34 sure, but he’s showing no signs of aging now and is quite possibly playing the best ball of his life. Major coup here if he’d play.

Harrison Barnes, UNC. Ok, as much of a gamble the Pierce addition is, Barnes is even more a gamble. First off, I’m counting on him jumping college after one year, and then I’m relying on him setting the league alight in his first year as a pro. Two very big asks, but to say I’ve a thing for Barnes would be badly understating it.

Bigmen

Brook Lopez, New Jersey Nets. Thank God for pre-season injuries eh? Lopez is a stud in the NBA now, in two years time he could be the best center not named Howard. Monster rebounder with great hands, he’d man the middle for me and average 12 boards a night doing so.

DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento Kings. Two things; I think he’ll be stud from day one, and the Evans/Cousins combo will be dynamite when they figure it out. I’m hoping that will have happened by 2012.

So there we have it, my 2012 Team USA roster. Versatile, quick and very talented, I’d go with a starting line up of Rondo-Evans-Roy-Aldridge-Lopez. When going small, Aldridge would play the five with a backcourt of Rondo and Wall, Evans at the three and Barnes at the four. If there ever were a close game, my closing line up would consist of Rondo-Roy-Pierce-Aldridge-Lopez. This team would be able to do it all, and would surely give the Gold medal a shot in two years time. As for the coach, if Krzyzewski decided to step down I’m sure one of his assistants – Boeheim or D’Antoni – would be able to run the show. If they wanted the PR move, I’m sure Coach Cal would give the recruiting/tapping up scene a break to call the shots.

Before I Go…

JR Smith is making quite a few headlines the last few days. Brendan said he’s worth a shot, Amin countered. I’m agreeing with both guys, I like his game, his reasonable contract (in its last year) and the fact that we need a scorer. I also fear his attitude, need for 40 shots a night and his chronicled mental issues. Now it seems he assaulted some guy while working out at the Nuggets practice facility. The story has been reported by the brilliant Sam Amick, and you can read it here. Now, having just rid ourselves of DeLonte West and his baggage, is this what we need to be drawn upon our franchise? I hate it when talented players are the difficult ones, why can’t they all just be normal guys and stay out of trouble? Because it’s the NBA I guess, because he’s 24 and worth several million dollars, because he’s a hothead. A talented, 24 year old millionaire hothead. So, if I had to choose sides, I’d hop on Brendan’s wagon and agree that if JR Smith were available, I’d do it. It’s a one-year relationship with a proven scorer, whom we can cut ties with at the trade deadline if we have to, but we shouldn’t walk away from a potential deal if one is on the table. Mo Williams and JR Smith would give up a fair few points defensively, but would be a treat offensively. I’d say I’m 51% for a deal – if it became an option. I wouldn’t say no to having Smith, but wouldn’t lose sleep if we didn’t acquire him either.

 

 

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