Let’s be honest.
The list of players not participating in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games for USA Basketball could probably upend the host of players actually making the trip to Brazil at the end of the summer.
LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, Anthony Davis, Kawhi Leonard, Chris Paul, LaMarcus Aldridge, Blake Griffin, Damian Lillard, James Harden and John Wall all pulled out of the Olympics for a plethora of reasons, with some needing to nurse injuries and others electing to take the summer “off” to replenish their athletic juices.
The Zika Virus may also have some petrified to the point where they do not want to accompany the team to Rio.
Nevertheless, Team USA will take their basketball expedition to Brazil led by the likes of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Draymond Green and Carmelo Anthony. Pictured below is the entire roster.
Collectively this is a strong crop of talent. Nabbing the Gold Medal shouldn’t be too strenuous of a task, especially when you consider the fact Spain, one of Team USA’s greatest adversaries in recent Olympic Games, won’t be at their very best this time around.
Marc Gasol will be relegated to the sidelines due to a broken right foot, Serge Ibaka will not be partaking in the Olympics for Spain due to a spat with the squad over his role in 2012, and much of the core that pushed Team USA in consecutive Olympics in 2008 and 2012 has grown older.
Spain can still swim with Pau Gasol, Ricky Rubio and some other talented players, but I doubt they can capsize Team USA for supremacy in the World Basketball Seas.
Teams such as France and Argentina also pose threats, but the U.S. would still be painted as a heavy favorite in a matchup with either. The only thing that worries me with this version of USA Basketball is the marginal amount of experience they have conjointly.
Five players: Green, DeAndre Jordan, Kyle Lowry, Harrison Barnes, and Jimmy Butler have had no actual in-game International Basketball experience.
There’s a diminutive amount of carryover from the 2012 team, with Durant and Anthony being the only ones that previously participated.
Kyrie Irving, Klay Thompson, DeMar DeRozan and DeMarcus Cousins did play in the 2014 FIBA World Cup, a tournament in which they snagged Gold by blasting Serbia 129-92 in the Final. Irving was named MVP, and the team won their nine games by an average of 33 points.
If that tilt represents something of a prelude to the Olympics, Team USA should dance their way to the Gold Medal with little to no missteps, but one off-kilter move against the beat could have them grooving to a much more somber song than they’d like to hear.
As for who will start? I’d go with an Irving-Thompson-Durant-Anthony-Cousins unit, and I’d seriously contemplate starting George at the 3 and slotting KD at the 4 to have Melo as a seasoned super-sub that can power the second unit with his scoring surges.
We’ll get our first look at Team USA on July 22, as they’ll square off against Argentina in game one of the USA Basketball Showcase, a series of exhibition games around the United States that will pit the team against the likes of China and France.