The Olympics will come pretty fast fter the season ends. An early August start date is going to throw selected players right into training camp and preparations for this summer's Olympic games in London. Several players will be excited for the opportunity to take home back-to-back golds and to help the U.S. secure its third straight major international competition.
U.S. Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo said that the team would likely be a mix of those two teams -- the 2008 Olympic team from Beijing and the 2010 World Championship team from Turkey. It is hard to argue that a combination of players from those two teams would give the U.S. an extremely talented and extremely balanced roster experience wise.
The U.S. will once again be a force to be reckoned with in international play.
Chris Sheridan of SheridanHoops.com obtained a preliminary copy of the 19 player roster pool that coach Mike Krzyzewski and his staff will select from. Every player on the list played in either the 2008 Olympics or the 2010 World Championships except for two -- Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge.
Here is the complete pool from Sheridan:
It is hard to argue that any one of those players would not be able to contribute and add something in the quest for gold once again. Even the non-All Star players -- such as Lamar Odom or Tyson Chandler -- add a specific need to the team that could become extremely valuable. Remember, Odom was a key facilitator for the 2010 World Championship team and Chandler a defensive bedrock who, unlike Dwight Howard, can occasionally hit a jumper and doesn't rely exclusively on a back-to-the-basket post game.
There will be tough decisions for sure.
The exciting part is that several of these players want to continue in the U.S. Olympic program. The perceive problem after the bronze medal in 2004 was that too many players nominally committed to the team only to back out at the last second, forcing the U.S. to piecemeal a team together quickly. The Olympic team was viewed more of as an All-Star team rather than a true team.
That changed for the 2006 World Championships and the Olympic team has seen its commitment level rise.
"I've spoken with all the agents representing all 18 players in this past week, and I've spoken to half of the players and we're in the process this week of having contact with all of them," Colangelo told Jeff Zillgitt of USA TODAY. "I've been advised every one of them wants to play, which again is terrific. It's an exclamation point on the program."
That kind of commitment was integral to remaking the Olympic basketball team. The next step will be inserting new players into the fold. That was what the 2010 World Championship team seemed to be about. There will be a lot of new faces on this Olympic team.
Expect the same cast of characters -- LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, Derrick Rose and Dwight Howard seems a likely starting lineup unless Kobe Bryant also shows up then good luck making a starting five -- to lead the team. The one thing you do notice is the considerable lack of pure 3-point shooting. Look at that starting lineup, who spreads the floor? Wade will likely come off the bench as Bryant gets the start as he did in 2008. But who will take and make 3-pointers?
In 2008, the national team shot 37.7 percent from beyond the arc. Tayshaun Prince, who is not on the roster, led the team with a 54.5 percent shooting percentage from beyond the arc and LeBron James added a 46.4 percent effort with Wade shooting 47.1 percent. Wade and James were shooting very well over the two weeks of the tournament, far better than they do in the NBA regular season.
In 2010, the team was slightly better from beyond the arc with a 38.5 percent mark from beyond the arc. Kevin Durant, who is on the roster, had the top mark with a 45.6 percent clip from beyond the arc. Eric Gordon, the best pure shooter on the team made 45.2 percent from the arc.
Both years, the team got hot from beyond the arc. But the Americans will see a lot of zone defense again. The question is whether anyone will score against a team this deep and this willing to run. Coach K will have to stress the commitment to defense again to make up for this shortcoming.
First though, we have to see who actually will show up when training camp opens in July after this season ends.
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