Wednesday, July 26, 2006
Team USA Basketball Will Be Back On Top
Coach K and company made their "final" roster cut, shaving the roster down to 15. Now Coach K can only dress 12 players for the games later this summer, so Shane Battier, Brad Miller and Antawn Jamison better not get too comfortable. And that's not a knock on any of those players (well except Brad Miller, I guess Jeff Foster and Austin Croshere were each not available to try out) but those three players didn't have a chance.
Team USA is looking to rebound after 4-6 years of embarrassing international basketball. And pardon the cliche, but this team is fit to do it. Here's a look at the projected starting line-up:
G - Chris Paul
G - Dwayne Wade
G - LeBron James
F - Dwight Howard
F - Amare Stoudemire*
* = if Amare isn't healthy, Chris Bosh or Elton Brand fill in just fine.
Looking at that list of projected starters, the first thing that jumps out is that there is nobody over the age of 25. That isn't just showing that the NBA is changing and that the young guys have taken over, it shows that Team USA is about to use their athletic ability to their advantage.
There is no team in the world that can run with the athletes that Team USA has, that's for sure. Coach K isn't exactly known for a "Run n' Gun" style, but he also isn't known for being a bad coach. Coach K is a good enough coach to know where his team strength is, and he will likely exploit that against the less-athletic teams.
However, USA has also upgraded it's outside shooting and defense, something that plagued them heavily in years past. Gilbert Arenas (who could start), Joe Johnson and Bruce Bowen are all excellent outside shooters. Also, Bowen is the best defensive player in the league behind Artest (he covered a 7'0 Dirk pretty well despite being 5 inches shorter) and Arenas is also an excellent perimeter defender. And although they both will likely not be starting, with the fresh legs and deep bench that USA has, they will certainly get plenty of playing time.
In all, Team USA is fittingly built more like a college team than a pro team. They of course have their stars (LeBron, Wade) but they also have role players and specialists to fill the holes from the past years (Bowen, Hinrich, Arenas).
The addition of these role players, the younger, more fresh legs of the squad, and the more complete team play should lead Team USA back where they belong...right on top.