In It to Win It
Join Date: Mar 2007
Restoring The Gold Standard
Restoring The Gold Standard
Well, we have arrived at that time once again. That rare time when the world's athletes gather together on one stage every four years for the most spectacular sporting event. The Olympics are right around the corner, and the world's second most popular sport has a defending champion... and it's not the United States.
The U.S. men's basketball team is in the unfamiliar position of trying to re-capture what was, for so many year, their own... the gold medal. The youth, inexperience, and overall attitude of the 2004 team came back to bite them in th rear end once they really saw how good the rest of the world had become. Now, there is a new head man at the helm, and mostly new players on the roster, and they have a brand new positive attitude as well.
Some familiar faces have returned from their disappointing performance at Athens... LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, and Carlos Boozer. The bad taste of bronze has made them all come back with a renowned respect for global basketball. These four are not the young, cocky bunch they were in 2004. They have grown and matured, and each has realized how difficult it is to win on any level, whether it's the NBA or FIBA. These guys will be ready this time around. Then the team has a man who's been there before and actually won the gold medal. Jason Kidd brings not only olympic experience, but the actual experience of winning it all internationally. He was part of the 2000 USA team that won the gold medal in Sydney.
Then we've got some brand new faces. They are headlined by the best basketball player in the world, Kobe Bryant. The NBA's MVP is poised and motivated to bring back the gold to his home country. There is no doubt that the addition of Bryant to this year's squad is going to help tremendously, since he knows how to win better than the rest of the team. The other new players on this team include Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Chris Bosh, Dwight Howard, Michael Redd, and Tayshaun Prince. Paul and Williams are the perfect court generals to put out there for the olympics. They are the two best point guards in the game, and although they are in their first olympics, they will show no signs of inexperience. Bosh and Howard bring two young post presences that play both ends of the floor. Michael Redd brings desperately needed shooting to the squad, while Tayshaun Prince serves as the defensive specialist. The team is led by another new face, coach Mike Krzyzewski. The head coach of Duke University is not used to dealing with NBA players, but he has been successful in the last year's Americas tournament at getting these guys to buy into his system.
Although Team USA sounds like it's constructed together perfectly, there are some ways this team could have been re-structured in order to ensure a better shot at the gold medal. There are two main things to consider when competing internationally: perimeter defense and outside shooting. There may be a few options on this team that cover these categories, but not enough to ensure success. A guy like Jason Kidd, who in all accounts is past his prime (although still a very good point guard), should have been left off the team. Michael Redd is the best shooter currently on the team, but if he is compared to Joe Johnson, then it is best to leave Redd off as well. Dwyane Wade may have the experience internationally, but he is not the best suited for the FIBA game, so he should have been left off.
Now that we have talked about who should be left off the team, the question becomes who should be on it. Since perimeter defense and outside shooting are the keys to international success, Shane Battier and Joe Johnson would have been better candidates than Dwyane Wade and Michael Redd. As mentioned before, although Redd is a great shooter, that's all he can do - shoot. He can't rebound or defend or pass. Joe Johnson can do all three of those things better than Redd, and he's on Michael's level as an outside shooter. Plus he is more versatile and can really play three positions. As for Shane Battier vs. Dwyane Wade, even though Wade is the better player, Battier is the better perimeter defender and the better shooter. Wade is the better scorer, but the team has enough of those guys as it is. Wade, at 6'4", is shorter than quite a few of the swingmen in international competition that he's going to be guarding. Battier can guard them well at 6'8" is 4 inches taller than Wade, and fits the international game much better.
The other guy who has been mentioned as being left off the team was Jason Kidd. The team has enough point guard talent in Chris Paul and Deron Williams. What is needed is size, and putting Tyson Chandler in place of Jason Kidd would have helped out the team more. The squad as it stands now is way too small up front, and this could cost against the teams with forces down low. Chandler brings toughness, shotblocking, and just another big body inside. Plus, with the plethora of offensive options on Team USA, there are about five guys who can play point guard on this team: besides the pure piont guards in Paul and Williams, you've got Joe Johnson, LeBron James, and Kobe Bryant who can all bring the ball up the floor and set up plays.
So with all that being said, the roster should have been as follows: Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James, Tayshaun Prince, Chris Bosh, Carlos Boozer, Dwight Howard, Joe Johnson, Shane Battier, and Tyson Chandler. The last three mentioned are the ones who should have been on the team in place of Michael Redd, Dwyane Wade, and Jason Kidd.
Although it looks like Team USA has a great shot at winning the gold, some minute changes in the roster could have upped the chances of success a great deal. However, the team is still motivated to bring back some pride to their country and get back what was theirs for so very long - the Gold Medal.
Last edited by insidehoops : 06-26-2008 at 05:54 AM.