With the Dream Team documentary being shown last week it made me think about who is going to make the U.S.A Olympic Team for this years Games in London. The squad has already been cut to 18 players, with a few notable absentees being found due to injuries, such as Derrick Rose and Dwight Howard. Here is the 18 man squad and my predictions on who will make the team that is heavily favoured to win gold in London.
Point GuardsChris Paul - With Rose injured Paul stamped himself as the best point guard in the league during this years playoffs. He has the perfect game to compliment all the scorers on the team and will be able to consistently give them space with the great passing ability he is known for. Verdict: His tenacity and skill is unmatched and he will most likely be the teams starting point guard in London this year. Russell Westbrook - While at times erratic the much maligned Westbrook has showed his pure athleticism and skill during these playoffs. His 43 point display against Miami in Game 4 will surely get him over the line and into this U.S.A team. Verdict: His shoot first game style may not suite this team but his form is too good to ignore. Will play in a back-up role to Paul. Deron Williams - His move to the Nets has meant he has been flying under the radar lately, but there is no denying his skill and game winning abilities. Verdict: Played in the gold-medal winning team last Olympics and will most likely keep his spot this time around. Photo Credit: www.usatoday.com
Shooting GuardsKobe Bryant - If Kobe is fit and wants to play, he will play. An undeniable scorer, Bryant will bring some very useful experience and leadership to this team. Verdict: He will most likely walk into the starting shooting guard position unless he feels like he needs the break. Dwayne Wade - Has had an up-and-down playoff series, showing the world that he might be a little past his prime, yet there is still no denying that Wade knows how to win. Verdict: Will most likely be the teams sixth man, providing a real spark off the bench if the starting line-up is ever looking flat. Eric Gordon - Had an injury plagued season and could only manage 9 games after being traded to New Orleans. His upcoming free-agency contract negotiations may also be a distraction when training camp begins for this U.S. team. Has huge potential and undeniable skills, yet all signs point to Gordon missing out on a trip to London. Verdict: Will be one of the 7 players cut from this squad. James Harden - The NBA's sixth man of the year has incredible talent and his three-point shooting may be a wild-card that gets Harden onto the 12 man roster. His chemistry with likely participants Durant and Westbrook is also another advantage to having Harden on the team. However, his inexperience (which has so far been on show in the Finals) may be a deciding factor in the selectors minds. Verdict: Unfortunately I think Harden will be number 13 in the eyes of the selectors and will be the unluckiest player to miss out. Photo Credit: www.telegraph.co.uk
Small ForwardsLeBron James - Three time MVP James is a lock to make this team. Has unstoppable scoring ability and can play anywhere from PG to PF which is important against smaller International teams. His amazing passing skills will also be a great addition to this team filled with elite shooters. James will also no doubt thrill the crowd with numerous highlight dunks, with the best players in the league passing him the ball. Verdict: Should start at PF with Durant at SF as you really can't start any of these two on the bench. Kevin Durant - Has won the NBA scoring title the past three seasons and is only getting better. His athleticism and length is impossible to defend against and he will no doubt shine on the international stage. The ultimate professional, Durant will do everything in his power to bring home his first Olympic Gold Medal. If the team needs a match-winning shot, don't be surprised if this man has the ball in his hands. Verdict: Is a no-brainer to start in his usual SF position. Carmelo Anthony - An absolute star of the game who unfortunately plays the same position as the two best players in the league. However, he could still be one of the highest scorers in the tournament as he is not one to shy away from the big stage. Verdict: Will make the team and contribute significant minutes off the bench, despite competing against James and Durant. Rudy Gay - Has been Mr consistent during his time at Memphis, giving them solid performance after solid performance. However, he hasn't taken his game to that next level yet and may shrink at training camp against the superstars of the competition. Verdict: Will miss the team due to sheer weight of numbers at his favoured position. Andre Igoudala -An all-round player who boasts excellent defensive skills could bring another skill-set to this team. His lack of offensive consistency will play against his chances, however if the selectors are after a defensive stopper, Igoudala might just sneak into this squad. He could pop straight into the spot Tayshaun Prince is vacating from last Olympics. Verdict: Due to the fact most of the offensive stars on this team are also great defenders, I really can't see a spot for Igoudala on this team. Photo Credit: www.bleacherreport.com
Power ForwardsKevin Love - In my opinion the most under-rated player in the league is finally starting to get the recognition he deserves. Made his first All-Star team this year as he continued his amazing rebounding numbers, while increasing his PPG to 26. Is only just starting to show us what he is capable of. Verdict: Will make the team as the back-up PF/C and provide some much-needed muscle on the boards. Blake Griffin - Has quickly developed into one of the most popular players in the league due to his athleticism and highlight-reel dunks. Ratings will sky-rocket if this guy makes the team and team U.S.A understands this and will make a clever marketing move. Has great chemistry with probable starting point guard Paul and will show off his amazing athleticism on the international stage. Verdict: Will make the team as a bench player and will be given large minutes during blow-out games to keep the audience interested. Chris Bosh - Is showing how valuable his is to whatever team he plays for during the playoffs this year. The Heat struggled without him and are looking like world-beaters with him. Bring efficient offence, solid defence and hustle on the boards game-in game-out. Played in the 2008 Redeem Team and will most likely join his pals James and Wade in the team this year. Verdict: Will make the team, bringing valuable minutes off the bench at the 5 spot. Lamar Odom - To be honest I was surprised when I found out he was in the squad with the season he has just had. After a failed trade attempt by the Lakers he became disgruntled and left for Dallas, only to have his worst season and subsequently ending it before the playoffs even began. However, Odom at his peak brings all all-round game and can play at almost any position on the floor. Verdict: Surely won't make the team in his current form. Stranger things have happened though. Photo Credit: www.basketballplayerzz.blogspot.com
CentresTyson Chandler - The Defensive Player of the Year brings a much needed defensive mindset to the team and is the perfect fit at the 5 spot. He won't score much, but he will make life difficult for opposition players in U.S.A's defensive key. Verdict: Will most likely be in the starting line-up at centre when the competition starts in London and expect a few highlight-reel blocks from the big man along the way. Anthony Davis - The expected number one pick in the upcoming draft will have a priceless learning experience while training with this team in the upcoming months. Even if he doesn't make the team, the training camp will help Davis learn what is necessary to excel at the highest level. Verdict: Davis will probably miss out on a spot in the final 12 man squad, yet he could push for a spot with Chandler being the only other true centre in the squad. Photo Credit: www.dailyknicks.com
Likely 12 man squadStarters: PG: Chris Paul SG: Kobe Bryant SF: Kevin Durant PF: LeBron James C: Tyson Chandler 2nd Unit: PG: Deron Williams SG: Dwayne Wade SF: Carmelo Anthony PF: Blake Griffin C: Kevin Love Extras: Chris Bosh Russell Westbrook
What do you think the 12 man squad will look like? Let me know if you would make any changes to the list I have just made. Photo Credit: (top) www.ibtimes.com