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Team USA: Looking Ahead

Thu, 10/09/2008 - 12:19am

 

By Michael DeStefano

The Redeem Team brought the gold medal back where it belongs, but true redemption for US Basketball isn’t winning one gold medal; it’s returning to the Olympic Dynasty that we once were. The bad news is that anything less than gold in the World Championships two years from now is a failure, and Team USA is right back to where it was in 2002: searching for answers. The good news is that there is enough young talent in the NBA right now to field a team comparable (if not better) than the Redeem Team.

Let’s start with the holdovers. Dwight Howard, Chris Paul, and Deron Williams have all expressed interest in returning and are great starting points to build around. In 2010, Paul and Williams will likely be the two best point guards on the planet and should have no problem handling themselves without the tutelage of Jason Kidd. Dwight Howard is already one of the top centers in the game and will only get better as he refines his offensive skill set. As good as these three were this past summer, they will be infinitely better with two more years experience under their belts.

It would be unbelievable if LeBron, Dwyane, and Bosh could be added to this list of holdovers, but is it realistic? They’ve been with the team since 2004 and will all be free agents in the summer of 2010, so their presence in Turkey is highly unlikely. The same goes for Kobe Bryant, who, at 32, might be unwilling to dedicate an entire summer to USA Basketball. The absence of those four leave glaring holes in this roster that need to be filled. Luckily, we have the talent to do it.

Prediction: Kevin Durant will be a superstar by the time the summer of 2010 rolls around. With his length, range, and handle (and three years experience playing against pros), he will be an impossible matchup for any international player. Like LeBron in 2008, Durant’s versatility will enable him to be the do-it-all guy for Team USA.

Brandon Roy will be going into his fifth season in the League and, at 26, might be one of the leaders of this team. Already one of the best young all-around players in the NBA, his size and efficiency in the backcourt will make it seem like Wade never left.

 
 


Greg Oden
 

Finally, Chris Bosh made a living off of putbacks and easy dunks off penetration from the American guards. Greg Oden will be more than capable of that in 2010. Bigger and more athletic than Bosh, Oden will also provide Team USA with more defense, rebounding, and shot-blocking than his predecessor.

The additions of those three players to Team USA seem inevitable, but after that, how will the USA decision-makers round out the roster? Here are the players that they’ll be considering:

Post Players

Team USA was weakest up front, with only two natural post players getting any minutes. Fortunately, LeBron can play any position, and Howard and Bosh were able to avoid foul trouble and stay on the floor. Adding depth down low for 2010 would be a smart move.

Amare Stoudemire: If he can be talked into playing for this team his nastiness and toughness would be a valued asset. Stoudamire's nearly impossible to guard one-on-one ability to knock down mid-range jumpers makes him that much more effective in International ball than Howard.
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Michael Beasley: The committee might be hesitant to consider B-Easy because of perceived character issues, but once he puts those concerns to rest, his versatility and post game will be too much to ignore.


Tyson Chandler: Brings much of the same things that Howard and Oden will. Nevertheless, American fans won’t mind seeing Chandler catch lobs from CP3 on the international stage.

Andrew Bynum: Bynum is a traditional center, bigger than Aldridge and more refined than Oden and Howard. He’s on his way to being one of the best centers in the game, but 2012 seems more realistic than 2010. Team USA will wait to see if he can stay healthy.

LaMarcus Aldridge: In Oden’s absence, Aldridge showed that he is capable of being a number one option in the paint. He played with the Select Team this past summer, and, but 2010, will have developed a chemistry with Oden in Portland that could be valuable for the US in Turkey.


Back Court

With Paul and Williams the veterans of the team, they will need a young protégé or two to mentor just as Jason Kidd did for them.

Derrick Rose: A no-brainer, he combines the speed and unselfishness of Paul with the strength and explosiveness of Williams. He is the total package, the prototypical point guard of the future.

Rodney Stuckey: Though more of a combo guard, Stuckey can run a team like a true point. He showed great poise and determination in the playoffs for Detroit and will only get better. The height and strength to match up with bigger European guards is also a plus.

OJ Mayo: Could be a superstar by 2010 due to his ability to flat-out score. But, on a team surrounded by older, more experienced players, he’ll have the opportunity to show off his skills as a playmaker as well.

These three have all played with the Select Team and are familiar with the US system. Furthermore, they’ve gotten to know the other Select and Senior players, so any combination of these three will fit in seamlessly in 2010.

Wings

This is where Team USA sets itself apart from the rest of the world, with versatile wings that can do anything and everything on a basketball court.

Rudy Gay: Gay broke out last year, averaging over 20 points per game. He’s athletic with improving range on his jump shot and will be more than ready to back up Durant on this team in two years.

Kevin Martin: My early favorite for “3-Point Specialist/ Cheerleader,” he has a chance to get more time than Michael Redd thanks to his athleticism and willingness to play defense.


Josh Smith: Questions about his attitude and jump shot could keep him from consideration, but he’s gotten better every year and will be an asset at both ends of the floor with his world-class athleticism.

Jeff Green: His playmaking skills and unselfishness at the four get him consideration. He plays like a European and could make a serious push for London in four years if he continues to show promise with the Select Team as well as in Oklahoma City.

2010 Projected Depth Chart

PG: Chris Paul/ Deron Williams/ Derrick Rose
SG: Brandon Roy/ Rodney Stuckey/ OJ Mayo
SF: Kevin Durant/ Rudy Gay
PF: Amare Stoudemire/ Michael Beasley
C: Dwight Howard/ Greg Oden

*Look for Bynum, Stuckey, and someone like Jerryd Bayless or Russell Westbrook to replace Howard, Paul, and Williams should they decide to change their minds after the before 2012.

Coach:

Jim Boeheim – Coach K has said repeatedly that his experience as an assistant in ’92 was extremely important to his success as head coach in 2008. Boeheim was Coach K’s assistant this summer, so it makes sense. A college coach, preaching the team over the individual, is the best fit for this team. We saw how successful Coach K was in motivating this group of superstars and getting them to play unselfish basketball. Boeheim should have no problem duplicating that success after witnessing it firsthand.

Nate McMillan or Mike D'Antoni would be solid choices as well.

Planning for 2010 needs to begin now if the United States is to maintain its place of prominence in international basketball. 2008 was a great start, but there is still a lot of work to be done, a lot of decisions to be made. Thankfully, the abundance of young talent in the NBA will make this process that much easier.

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This is where Team USA sets

This is where Team USA sets itself apart from the rest of the world, with versatile wings that can do anything and everything on a basketball court.

Rudy Gay: Gay broke out last year, averaging over 20 points per game. He’s athletic with improving range on his video izle jump shot and will be more than ready to back up Durant on this team in two years.

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