NBA Roundtable

2012 Team USA Roster Hopefuls

In International Ball on January 10, 2012 at 11:13 pm

Chris Sheridan has the 19 man list of roster hopefuls for next summer’s Team USA. The squad will be trimmed down to 12 players in the summer after tryouts.

LaMarcus Aldridge
Carmelo Anthony
Chauncey Billups
Chris Bosh
Kobe Bryant
Tyson Chandler
Kevin Durant
Eric Gordon
Blake Griffin
Dwight Howard
Andre Iguodala
LeBron James
Kevin Love
Lamar Odom
Chris Paul
Derrick Rose
Dwyane Wade
Russell Westbrook
Deron Williams

My Roster Choices

Okay, so my roster would be:

PG — Chris Paul, Deron Williams
SG — Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, Eric Gordon
SF — LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony
PF — Kevin Durant, Kevin Love
C   — Dwight Howard, Chris Bosh, LaMarcus Aldridge

I would expect them to use a nine man rotation. The starting five plus a backup PG (Deron) and backup big man (Bosh) plus Wade as a SG/SF and Melo as a SF/PF.

Team USA would then keep Kevin Love (PF) and LaMarcus Aldridge (C/PF) as situation subs to use against bigger teams and Eric Gordon (SG/PG) as valuable depth in backcourt.

My Cuts

  • Russell Westbrook and Derrick Rose — overly ball-dominant PGs, not ideal for a roster this talented.
  • Tyson Chandler simply because there were more talented players ahead of him in Dwight, Bosh and Aldridge. Plus, his specific skill-set is more than adequately covered by those three.
  • Chauncey Billups — too old, lost a step. Still a good player but no longer a dominant one. He was my third choice PG ahead of Rose and Westbrook for this roster though due to his shooting ability and willingness to play on and off the ball allowing talented wings like Kobe, Wade, LeBron and Durant to shine.
  • Lamar Odom — big fan of his versatility but I prefer Bosh as an undersized quick five and prefer Griffin + Love as backup fours who provide something (big powerful physical play in the paint) very different from Durant as an undersized quick four (more perimeter orientated).
  • Blake Griffin — this one was the only close call — Ultimately, I choose Kevin Love because of his shooting ability and rebounding. If Griffin can make major improvements to his jump-shooting and/or defense, I would take him instead.

More on my Roster

Speed over Power

  • I went with a roster which prioritized speed over power.
  • I think that Team USA has more to gain by going down that route — in international basketball — then going with a grind it out physical style of play.
  • Hence, Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony at power forward instead of say someone like LaMarcus Aldridge where Team USA would play a power game in the paint through their front court’s dominant post games (wings too).
  • I wanted to get more quickness, shooting ability and ball-handlers to keep the offense open. And I wanted quickness defensively to help create turnovers and beat opponents to loose balls. To create transition opportunities.

Kevin Durant

  • I love Kevin Durant as a PF in International Basketball.
  • His physical attributes of speed and quickness combined with his size and length + his exceptional shooting ability, ball-handling and cold-blooded scorer’s mentality makes him the single most dangerous matchup in International Basketball.
  • Kevin Durant is the best player in the world in this competition.

Other notes

  • I choose to keep Wade on the bench because I loved his energy as a sixth man when he had the role last time around.
  • I also like Kobe’s veteran savvy in that starting lineup especially with Jason Kidd not here this time round.
  • It’s a pity Jason Kidd isn’t available for selection. If he was, he would still be my first choice starter. The ultimate facilitating floor general for this team (with so many talented, ball-happy, scorers).
  • Bosh was chosen over Aldridge largely because of his rebounding ability as an undersized five.
  • I have been impressed with Aldridge’s improved team defense (especially in pick and rolls) over the past year (and change) and consider them fairly equal in that aspect of their games. Offensively, Aldridge can offer more of a post game (go-to scorer) while Bosh will operate as a facilitator.
  • I like Bosh in this facilitator role given the immense scoring talent two through four (Durant, Wade, LeBron, Kobe, Melo).
  • That said, even as a third string center, I believe Aldridge has a good role to play here. His post game offers a valuable weapon which the coaching staff can call upon to change the style of play and give the opposition something very different to think about. Even if not a regular rotation player, I would expect Aldridge to get minutes (and produce) when things get sticky and need to be changed up.
  • Having an interior defender of Dwight Howard’s caliber + tremendous quickness and active team defenders one through three (PG, SG and SF) will help protect Durant and Melo whenever they face a top notch big man at power forward (say Pau Gasol). It’ll also be up to them, mainly Durant, to make those slower footed PFs pay on the other end of the court.
  • I would be inclined to use Kevin Love as the backup PF against Spain instead of using Melo as a combo forward. Keep Melo strictly as a backup three. With Wade’s and Kobe’s minutes overlapping into SF playing time, Melo’s minutes may be limited further.
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