By Craig Fields
So even though the Olympics are three years away and the FIBA Basketball World Cup is next year, it’s never too early to get the USA squad figured out. Actually the league’s most promising talent is heading to Las Vegas to take part in a four day mini camp with eyes on usurping roster spots from Team USA’s established members.
Those established members include Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Deron Williams, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, James Harden, Andre Iguodala, Kevin Love, Tyson Chandler, and Anthony Davis.
Now to be honest a few of those names were circumstantial because of injuries. Those names include Anthony Davis, Tyson Chandler, James Harden and Andre Iguodala. With the injuries to Chris Bosh, LaMarcus Aldridge, Dwight Howard, Derrick Rose and Dwyane Wade, competition was less stiff and enabled the aforementioned players to make the squad.
This year, however, those established members will have plenty to be worried about. Kobe Bryant has already established the fact that he would not participate in anymore international play. So with that being said a guard spot has opened up. Personally I see Stephen Curry filling that spot flawlessly.
He set the record for made threes in the NBA during the 2012-2013 season making 272 treys. His 3-point prowess would be perfect for international competition because the 3-point line is a shorter distance from the basket by 1’8”. He not only can shoot but he is also a willing passer having averaged 6.9 assists a game this past season.
Dwight Howard and LaMarcus Aldridge play in the place of Tyson Chandler and Anthony Davis. These two changes would be no brainers in my book. Even though Chandler and Davis bring a certain defensive aspect to their game, Howard and Aldridge bring both defense and offensive versatility to the table. With Howard’s developing post game and Aldridge’s devastating mid-range game, they would be arguably the most formidable front court in international play.
Paul George takes the place of Andre Iguodala. Iguodala who only played about 72 minutes in total this past Olympics, is a great player who is defensively oriented and at times offensively challenged. However the coming on of a 23-year old George is just too perfect to pass up. The pairing of LeBron and Paul on the floor at the same time gives me shivers just thinking about it. Those two on the court at the same time would be tough defensively and explosive offensively.
So there you have it in a nutshell folks. My 12-man roster includes guards: Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Deron Williams, Stephen Curry, and James Harden; forwards: LeBron James, LaMarcus Aldridge, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, Paul George, Kevin Love; and center Dwight Howard.
The truth of the matter is that there are many kinds of mix and match scenarios that mean gold medals for the USA Basketball Team. That is why they were able to win it all last year even though many of their first-tier players were unable to play. My roster, in my opinion, just makes the inevitable trip to the top of that podium much easier.