USA Men’s Basketball Roundtable – Who Makes the Cut?

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Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James

With the USA mini-camp at an end, the coaching staff has a tough decision to make on who should make the final cut to play in Rio. A few writers at Basketball Society are going to give a little insight on who they believe should represent the US in the 2016 Olympics.

Our writers include:

  • Alfonso DeFalco – @fonzydefalco50
  • Aram Cannuscio – @acannuscio
  • DJ Allen – @djallen23

curry usa

1.) Which 3 point guards would you choose for your team and why?

DeFalco: Steph Curry, Chris Paul, & Russell Westbrook. – Curry is on the rise of becoming a great player. Westbrook has the experience for Team USA and is very athletic which is something Coach K is a fan of. Chris Paul is still a great floor general so he is a guaranteed lock on the team. The only problem I have with CP3 is will he actually end up wanting to play (will be 31 when the olympics start).

Cannuscio: Chris Paul, Stephen Curry, & John Wall – I believe these three are the obvious ones to choose. The one player I left out was Russell Westbrook because I just don’t see how he would work with so many talented players around him and he having to be the main distributor to get all others involved.

If Russell can prove during training camps that he can lead the offense in a great fashion, then I’m all for having him over John Wall on the roster, but I just don’t see that happening.

Allen: Chris Paul, Steph Curry, & Kyrie Irving – I feel that Paul and Curry are the two givens in this selection. CP3 is one of the smartest players that we have in the league today, and if you combine that with his leadership, it would be stupid to leave him off the team. Curry is coming off one of the best seasons you can ask for as a basketball player, and he’s proven that he deserves to be here. The last pick was between Kyrie and Russell Westbrook for me. I chose Kyrie because I feel he’s more of a true point guard and he would fit best with the rest of the players that I’ve chosen.

Taking time out of Team USA Basketball practice in Las Vegas in preperation for the Olympic games in London, James Harden sits down with the State Press to answer a few questions. (Photo by Josh Nacion)
Taking time out of Team USA Basketball practice in Las Vegas in preperation for the Olympic games in London, James Harden sits down with the State Press to answer a few questions. (Photo by Josh Nacion)

2.) Which 3 shooting guards would you choose for your team and why?

DeFalco: James Harden, Klay Thompson, & DeMar DeRozan –  I feel like Harden is the top player in this group of shooting guards, maybe even on the entire roster. Klay much like Curry has made a name for himself in this league. DeRozan might not be the first name that comes up in conversation as a possible representative for Team USA, but he has the athletic ability to make some noise for a roster spot.

Cannuscio: James Harden, Klay Thompson, & Jimmy Butler – The easiest decision was choosing the shooting guard slots. I don’t see any other players close to these three in terms of talent at the position. This one was quite simple.

Allen: James Harden, Klay Thompson, & Jimmy Butler – Harden is a lethal weapon on the offensive end. Thompson has shown that he can light up the floor as well, but he also defends which is a plus. Butler is a great defender and he’s just going to work hard. Every coach loves a player that gives it his all non-stop.

Aug 12, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Team USA guard Kevin Durant looks to take a shot during the second day of the USA men's basketball national team minicamp at Mendenhall Center. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 12, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Team USA guard Kevin Durant looks to take a shot during the second day of the USA men’s basketball national team minicamp at Mendenhall Center. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

3.) Which 3 small forwards would you choose for your team and why?

DeFalco: LeBron James, Kevin Durant, & Kawhi Leonard –  LeBron & Durant are sure lock-ins for Team USA barring injury/last minute drop out. I picked Kawhi over Melo for that final SF spot because of his excellent defensive presence and I think he has something special. If he makes the final roster Coach K will use him for specific defensive assignments. Remember Andre Igoudala in 2012?

Cannuscio: Carmelo Antony, Kevin Durant, & Gordon Hayward – I’m only leaving LeBron off of this list because I don’t believe he’ll decide to play. Ultimately, I would of course choose LBJ if he decides to play, but I don’t think that’ll happen. The list to replace him would include Hayward, PG, and Kawhi as the main guys. I believe Hayward deserves it the most as Kawhi’s defensive capabilities won’t be as needed against the competition they have and Paul George is still coming off of that injury.

Allen: LeBron James, Kevin Durant, & Carmelo Anthony – This one was the easiest of them all. These three guys are the best forwards in the game…Simple.

davis usa

4.) Which 3 power forwards would you choose for your team and why?

DeFalco:  Anthony Davis is a lock-in for a spot and is possibly one of the next best big men in this league. Blake Griffin has great athleticism and now has the ability to shoot further out of the paint which could make him a matchup nightmare. LaMarcus Aldridge could be an interesting name. He withdrew from the 2014 FIBA games, but regardless I think he has a decent shot of making the team due to his skill set in the post game as well as his rebounding ability.

Cannuscio: Anthony Davis, LaMarcus Aldridge, & Blake Griffin – Anthony Davis might very well be the most important player on this whole roster. As he continues to improve his game, he continues to stake his claim as one of the best in the game. LMA and Blake were also easy choices as, even in these last playoffs, they proved they were amongst the best at the power forward position in the NBA.

Allen: Anthony Davis, LaMarcus Aldridge, & Blake Griffin – Davis’s defensive mindset, combined with his versatility makes him a sure favorite. Aldridge and Griffin are among the best forwards that we have in the league today. LMA can score with the best of them and Blake is a highlight show of his own.

Drummond

5.) Which 3 centers would you choose for your team and why?

DeFalco: You would figure Anthony Davis would start at the 5, still DeMArcus Cousins would not be a bad backup to have with his large frame in the driving lane not letting opponents score. Andre Drummond & DeAndre Jordan are both young up coming centers you’ll hear a lot more for many seasons to come. They have similar playing styles in running the floor and blocking shots. It really comes down to which of those guys has the better camp and who impresses the coaches more.

Cannuscio: DeMarcus Cousins, Andre Drummond, & DeAndre Jordan – There aren’t many great centers on the roster and the only one I left off that could have consideration is Dwight Howard. With this being said, I just see his lack of an offensive game as too big of a detriment to make the decision to put him on a roster.

Allen: Andre Drummond, DeMarcus Cousins, & Dwight Howard – With a slim list of centers on the roster, this one was a bit difficult. I like the pick of Drummond because of his huge effectiveness on the boards. Dwight provides that defense in the paint as a rim stopper and Cousins is just a beast inside on offense.

6.) The USA team usually takes about 12 players to the Olympics, so which 3 players would you cut from your team?

DeFalco: Overall this entire selection was difficult. From the previous guys I mentioned if I had to take out three of them to form my 2016 Olympic team it would be DeAndre Jordan, DeMar DeRozen & Kawhi Leonard.

Cannuscio: DeAndre Jordan could become a great liability at the foul line if teams decide to continue to put him there. The USA Team are the obvious favorites to win at the Olympics and simple deficiencies like this one could be the reason for them losing.

Gordon Hayward and John Wall were left off because two players have to go. Unfortunately they are the two players I chose since I would rather have an extra shooting guard and power forward if that is possible.

Allen: Dwight Howard has struggled with injuries for the past few seasons, so he would be a huge risk just from an injury standpoint. DeMarcus Cousin’s attitude worries me. He can sometimes be selfish and I already see him picking a fight with a few players. Blake Griffin has to go because I feel Davis and Aldridge are just simply better forwards than he is.
lilliard usa

7.) Who do you feel was left off the invite list?

DeFalco: There were a couple of names that I was surprised were not invited to the mini-camp. Damian Lillard is one of the top guards in the league and I really think this will give him a bigger chip on his shoulder this coming season. Seeing how the Atlanta Hawks had the 2nd best record in the NBA you would think one of those guys (Paul Millsap, Jeff Teague or Kyle Korver) would have gotten an invite. Another name I’d throw out there which might have been a long shot is recent Finals MVP Andre Igoudala.

Cannuscio: There are about 20 other point guards I think that should have been chosen over Michael Carter-Williams, including Damian Lillard, Kyle Lowry, Kemba Walker, or Derrick Rose. Also, I can’t help but question the decision to consistently send an invite to Mason Plumlee. The list that should have been invited over him is enormous, but a couple of key players that should have been invited over him are Al Horford, Nerlens Noel, Brook Lopez, and Al Jefferson.

Allen: Derrick Rose and Damian Lilliard were the two names I felt were left out. In my opinion, they are better than two other point guards on the list and could’ve made a huge push to make the team.

thompson usa

8.) Who do you see making a big impact in Rio?

DeFalco: Klay Thompson might not be starting at the shooting guard spot but I guarantee but I think he can be an X-Factor with his great shooting ability and defensive stoppages. He could easily be their top rotational player come 2016.

Cannuscio: Kevin Durant. I believe KD is going to come out with a great ferocity and will be looking to lead the team in scoring on a nightly basis. He’ll be looking to remind fans and players why he is one of  the best players in the league (if not the best).

Allen: Klay Thompson is my choice. He does a great job moving without the ball, and I feel he will see a lot of open looks in Rio. I have always believed that every team needs a knock down shooter and they have that in Klay. Don’t be surprised if we see a few huge games from him.

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