Who will play for Team USA in 2012?

By Chris Sheridan

And the first pertinent sub-question on that topic: Who will the big guys be? As in big and tall.

Dwight Howard is the first name on that list, because like most of the 2008 Redeem Team, he has earned the right to defend the gold medal he won in Beijing.

Ditto Chris Bosh.

The same goes for Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Kobe Bryant, and maybe to a slightly lesser degree to Chris Paul and Deron Williams.

You can also set aside a spot for Blake Griffin, who has been described to SheridanHoops.com by people in the know as a shoo-in for the London 2012 roster.

And another will go to Kevin Durant, the MVP of the 2010 World Championship team. The spot is his for the taking if he wants it.

That right there gives you 10 guys, leaving only two spots up for grabs from the current 35-man roster listed on USA Basketball’s Website from which Griffin is conspicuously absent.

And that brings us back to the big man question, because the Americans are going to need one or two more to effectively defend the front line of Spain, which won EuroBasket on Sunday night with a roster that includes Pau and Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka. (Also, the Spanish team is expected to add another big for next summer. He is Nikola Mirotic, who was selected 23rd in last June’s draft by the Houston Rockets, and whose rights were subsequently dealt to Minnesota and then Chicago. Mirotic is a 6-foot-10 power forward from Montenegro but is a naturalized Spanish citizen who plays professionally for Real Madrid. Last year, he won the Euroleague’s rising star award, then averaged over 27 points per game in July to win the MVP award at the FIBA Under-20 European championship.)

Team USA coach was able to get away with using James and Anthony as his power forwards in Beijing when Team USA defeated Spain 118-107 in the gold medal game.

But the new and improved Spanish team, as much as they prefer to play up-tempo, could choose to slow the pace against the Americans in London to take advantage of their one distinct advantage — offensive talent in the low post. If they continually pound the ball inside to the Gasols, and if Howard and/or Bosh get into foul trouble (remember, FIBA only allows five fouls, not six like the NBA), there needs to be a second line of defense.

So let’s find at least two bigs for the Americans.

In my book, one of them has to be Kevin Love, who was the most productive American player on a per-minute basis on the 2010 team aside from Durant. To me, he is a no-brainer pick. But to coach Mike Krzyzewski, he might not be. Krzyzewski used Love quite sparingly in Istanbul, choosing instead to attack each opponent with speed and athleticism (his key rotation players were Durant, Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, Andre Iguodala, Lamar Odom Rudy Gay and Eric Gordon.)

Odom played center in Istanbul ahead of Tyson Chandler, and was a key factor — so much of a key that he probably should be listed with Love as candidates 1 and 1A for two of those last two spots on the 2012 team.

Would Howard, Bosh, Love and Odom be enough? Against every other team, the answer is probably yes.

Against Spain, it is debatable.

Assuming Love or Odom goes, that brings us to the 12th spot.

If you want to take an extra big, the candidates would have to include Chandler, LaMarcus Aldridge and Kendrick Perkins. (You must excise Amare Stoudemire from consideration because the New York Knicks would probably not allow him to play. In 2010, they pulled him off the roster on the night before camp began).

If you want to take an extra shooter, Eric Gordon and Stephen Curry definitely have earned the right to be atop the list because of what they brought to the team in Turkey in 2010.

If you want a third point guard, 2010 Team USA members Russell Westbrook and Derrick Rose are your guys (in fact, it’ll be interesting to see whether either of them can beat out Paul and/or Williams at training camp next summer in Las Vegas).

There probably will not be room for the type of glue guy (someone akin to what Jason Kidd was in Beijing and what Chauncey Billups was in Istanbul) Krzyzewski has liked to have around since taking over as the national team coach in 2005, although Odom somewhat fits that profile.

So, who should Team USA take to London? At this point, my best guess is that the roster looks like this:

C – Howard, Bosh, Odom.

PF – Anthony, Griffin, Love.

SF – Durant, James.

SG – Bryant, Wade.

PG – Williams, Paul.

Enough to defeat Spain? Remember, only five of those guys can be on the court at the same time.

Your comments are welcome. 



    • ryan says

      not sure if im in the right spot but im commenting on the topic not brodys comment (if it shows up that way) with that being said………i like the idea of young mr rubio feeding these guys the ball…….if theres a reason thats a dumb thing to say (like maybe rookies cant or hes not american please note im a weekend worrior nba fan and didnt know better)

  1. Herodotus says

    Chris, excellent topic, one of my favorite basketball geek subjects to debate.

    Derrick Rose is going to receive heavy consideration for this team over Deron Williams because of his athleticism, which makes him dominant on the defensive end, and his ability to get to the rim, which is unstoppable. Imagine DWade and Rose ball-hawking at the top of the USA defense, because Coach K will definitely be imagining this and it will be difficult for him to turn it down. The politics of this selection may end up being a major factor, with Williams being the successful incumbent who, in some people’s minds, especially his and some of his teammates’, will have “earned” this selection if he wants it. I think the difficult decision and the correct call would be to select Rose over Williams, but I’m not entirely sure it will happen. The final calculus for why Rose should be selected is this: Guess what Team USA’s number one defensive priority will be when it faces Spain. That’s right, keeping Juan Carlos Navorro from getting off a clean look from the perimeter. Navarro never rested in Spain’s biggest games this summer. Derrick Rose is the perimeter defender of choice at point guard. He could prove invaluable in being able to prevent Spain from getting good looks for Navarro, which in the end is the most important thing in the blueprint for defeating Spain.

    As for the post players, assembling the right combination to match up with Spain will be a complex calculation. Dwight Howard needs to be on the floor whenever Marc is. If Howard gets into foul trouble, though, I don’t think the strategy is to have another traditional big, but to try to counter Marc with quickness and athleticism. Therefore, I’m not sure about the Kevin Love prediction. I think you’re right on that Odom will be considered heavily, but my opinion from having watched him for years is that he played over his head for Team USA the last time around and I hope he isn’t selected. I don’t have a final opinion on who should be selected, but personally, after Blake Griffin (is he really a shoo-in?), I have to think Aldridge is probably the favorite. And that leaves Eric Gordon as the scorer/shooter at the end of the bench in case the other team (aka, Navarro) gets hot and we need the firepower to keep up.

    PG – Paul, Rose
    SG – Bryant, Wade, Gordon
    SF – James, Durant
    PF – Carmelo, Griffin
    C – Howard, Bosh, Aldridge

  2. Dhydration says

    I don’t think they should add a third PG to this team. Lebron is more than capable of playing PG if they need him to, and they wouldn’t need him to unless someone got injured. I don’t care who the other two PGs are: just let there be an open competition between Chris Paul, Deron Williams, and Derrick Rose and the best two men win. Russell Westbrook’s decision-making is just too poor to be on this team.

    Not bringing a third PG would allow us to bring two more big men, and I think those two should be Lamarcus Aldridge and Kevin Love. This team needs a player like Kevin Love to just do the dirty work. With Lebron, Wade, Kobe, Durant, Carmelo and all these volume shooters, there will be tons of rebounds to collect. Love will happily do all of that on a team like this while everyone else shoots. Plus one aspect of Love’s game that would be a huge benefit to a team built like this would be his outlet passes. He is the best at starting the fast break with an outlet pass, and we all know that this Team USA needs to get out and run. Finally, Lamarcus Aldridge gives the team a long defender and rebounder, and he runs the court well. Another big bonus to having this guy on the team would be that he can get buckets in the post. If the long range shots aren’t falling, they can throw it in to Aldridge and he can actually get buckets. Dwight Howard and Chris Bosh can’t really do that consistently.

    So, the final team would be:

    PG – 2 of Paul, Williams, or Rose
    SG – Kobe, Wade
    SF – Lebron, Durant, Carmelo
    PF – Bosh, Griffin, Love
    C – Howard, Aldridge

  3. Nick says

    You lose any credibility by leaving Derrick Rose, the reigning league MVP, off your projected roster. He, like the other two young stars, Durant and Griffin, is a lock.

    • Corey says

      Leaving Derrick Rose off of the team is actually a smart move. Rose is not a true point whereas he doesn’t know how to run a team by setting his teammates up. He’s a ball dominating point and on this team of scorers like Kobe. Lebron. and Melo that’s not needed. Rose and Griffin both should be left off this team because they will get there shot in 2016. Durant didn’t make 2008 and know he’s a shoe in for 2012. I’d take Love over Griffin if only for his ability to rebound and hustle points.

  4. says

    He, I’m Spanish and I see your team and I see we have no chance.
    But, in that team, I’d pick Iguodala instead of Love because LB or KD can play as a PF greatly in FIBA basketball and Andre gives you a defense and athelticism never seen.
    Just an opinion

  5. Zac says

    Umm laMarcus Aldrige anybody? The dude maybe the best big at running the floor he’s longer than bosh and odom while being just as athletic and having all te same tools as bosh he’s just better at them and he owns pau everytime they play. Not to mention he’s the perfect big against eurpeons because he has the help d the jump shot and the rebounding that can pick them apart. Unlike love that has the same scoring and better rebounding yet absolutely no defense that is credible or atheletism.

  6. Vince says

    I’m all for Eric Gordon on the team over Derrick Rose. It’s unlikely that Rose would even play, let alone start. Chris Paul is the best point guard in the world and a better fit for Team USA. He knows how to distribute the ball better than anyone in the game who’s not named Nash. He’s a great defender and shooter as well. Team USA doesn’t need one on one individual scorers. They need shooters and perimeter defenders, and a point guard who has the EXPERIENCE of playing with LeBron, Wade, Kobe, Carmelo, etc. Also Team USA needs guys who will be okay not getting any minutes. Paul and Williams have proven they are playing with their 2008 performance. Rose gets no time because of that, and I’m not sure if it would be good for him, or if he’d be okay with that arrangement.

    Personally my roster would be

    PG: Paul, Williams
    SG: Bryant, Wade, Gordon
    SF: James, Durant
    PF: Anthony, Bosh, Griffin
    C: Howard, Odom

    Lamar Odom and Kevin Love just miss the cut.

    • Chris says

      I like your lineup, and totally agree in taking Gordon over Rose. They need role players that can change gears into specializing in something, and Gordon can be both a great defender and spot up shooter.

  7. says

    I hope you never stop! This is one of the best blogs I have ever read. You have got some mad skill here, man. I just hope that you do not lose your style because youre definitely one of the coolest bloggers out there. Please keep it up because the internet needs someone like you spreading the word.

  8. 843KnickFan says

    I take two of: Rose, Deron Williams, Eric Gordon, Steph Curry

    I almost think Rose is too good to leave off the team. He can come off the bench and pick up the other team’s best guard. Eric Gordon automatically becomes the best shooter on the team, and he’s a zone buster that the team will need. Meh on Curry, but if he shoots lights out I could see him forcing his way onto the team instead of Gordon. Deron Williams is the safer pick but I’m assuming Paul’s a lock and Kobe can slide over and give you minutes at the one if Rose gets stifled against a zone or something. I take Rose and Gordon.

    I think Love fills the eleventh spot too and I would give Javale McGee a really hard look at the 12th spot. He would automatically become the best shot blocker on the team and I would much rather he guard a Gasol brother than Lamar Odom. Or we could just go with a Rose, Wade, Lebron, Melo, Griffin lineup and jump over the other team.

    • Chris says

      Javale wouldn’t be a better shot blocker than Howard. But aside from weak side help, he’s not a great defender if he’s being brought in for defense. And he still seems like a bonehead at times. It would be good for him as in a maturity experience, but I don’t see it him being good for the team. I would take Lamarcus Aldridge over him at this point.

  9. Jacob Parks says

    Lamarcus Aldridge would easily be the second best big on the roster behind Howard. He would likely start at the four. The problem is he has never really shown a desire to represent in international ball.

  10. Rye says

    I’ve got the same team as Chris, only with Rose instead of Odom. But there’s no way James and Paul come off the bench. The last three spots are only really relevant against Spain, as they’ll need another big legitimately over 6-9, who can defend and stretch the floor (which is why Aldridge or Odom should be on this team, at the expense of Griffin). Other than that, look for Griffin, Love and Rose, to be used sparingly and for Howard, Bosh, Anthony, James, Durant, Bryant, Wade, Paul and Williams, to comprise the nine man rotation.

  11. Anthony says

    No disrespect to anybody, but I don’t see D-Rose being the starting point guard over paul or williams. He just does not have the game suitable for international play and as long as the bulls use him as their 1, 2, and 3 offensive options won’t get used to being a distributor. He is a great player, but he won’t start (and I don’t think he would even make the team) for team USA. I do think gordon and curry will make the team because of their shooting capabilities and could unseat rose from the roster. curry especially because of his abilities at both guard spots. Finally I don’t think love or griffin will be on the roster either. neither is above average defensively and coach k has typically only used bigs who can play d and let everyone else handle the offense.

  12. Brian says

    my roster would be:
    PG: Paul, Rose, WIlliams
    SG: Kobe, Wade
    SF: Lebron, Durant
    PF: Melo, Griffin
    C: Howard, Bosh, Love

    Rose is a must. Coach K can do so much with that roster. He will have a 2nd team of Rose, Wade, Durant, Blake, and Bosh that will run the floor better than anyone. He can go big with Rose, Lebron, Melo, Bosh, Howard. He can go small with Paul, Kobe, Wade, Lebron, and Howard or Griffin.

    4 legit big men (Griffin Howard Bosh Love) is more than enough theres no way Odom makes the team at the expense of Rose

    • ignarus says

      his offensive game is a weak fit for FIBA rules and his D is nothing special. if you wanted to bring on a third PG, you’d want someone who can kill it from deep, can play rugged D, and has the size to take it to the rim regardless of hand-checking.

      quick penetration-based inefficiently scoring point guards don’t translate well under FIBA rules.

      rose wasn’t that good in 2010, so why are people acting like he’s a top player in this format. eric gordon was a much better fit.

  13. EJFANRS says

    Would coach K really want to take five power fowards/ centers? I could see Team USA with a starting five of Rose, Wade, James, Durant, and Howard….If Kobe and Wade both play, then you can flip flop those two, but I really dont see how a traditional starting five works with what coach K does during international play. He likes speed, 3pt shooting, and guys that can smother the basketball on defense. Last summer, team USA had pf/c Odom, Love, and Chandler. They brought home the gold with those guys as the only bigs on the team. I think team USA should take shooters and guards that can push the ball up the court over depth at the PF and C positions. A guy like Eric Gordon could be a really nice weapon off the bench with his ability to shoot from long range and dribble past defenders. Russell Westbrook is another guy that can attack the hoop and use his speed to get past his defender. Not to mention both are very good defenders. Needless to say, should be interesting to see who is chosen for team USA next summer.

  14. Mike from germany says

    Great food for thought. You have to expect injuries, personal matters or player development. So it is some kind of searching for ideal scenario. But without doubt the best players are James, Durant, Howard, Wade, Bryant, Paul, Griffin, Rose, in order and FIBA or not FIBA. Anthony and Williams are in, as for another big, I like Aldridge a lot, as for the 12th it could go in so many directions.

    Spain was rather unimpressive through the tournament, Navarro had some games out of his mind but if you look deeper he efficiency throughout the seasons the last years is sharply falling. One of the Gasols as a starting unit would be the attack point, either for Lebron or Durant. Again spain is not such a killer unit and it is either Mirotic or Ibaka, only one naturalized player, that is the rule.

  15. lilnate says

    Paul or Williams over Rose? You have to be kidding me if D-Rose doesn’t make this squad. Coach K will take his humble play and hard work over the other two. He’s just a few years removed from college and ill guarantee he will be starting PG no questions asked. I see Odom getting dropped and them rolling with D-Rose instead of Williams since he will be in turkey and i think Eric Gordon s going to lock down the final spot. Him and Love will get on the roster mainly cause there hustle, Gordon s size, outside shot to draw the defense out and his defense vs other guards. Also the fact that they played in the FIBA tourney last summer when others decided they didn’t want to with help them out.

    • munimon says

      i love d roses game and he is one of the best players. but i dont think we should put him a head of cp3 or d will, especially in Internationale basketball. rose is a good point guard but is more of a scoring guard. he can get to the rim, very athletic, and a very good defender. but for the olympic team we need a better distributor, passer, more experienced( already teamed up with the best nba players), and a better shooter so d rose goes behind cp3 and d-will ( who i feel is being underrated). but this will be in summer of 2012, i mean rose might improve his game like better court vision, shot selection and shooting touch, so yea

  16. NBAFAN8 says

    In my opinion, you have too many bigs for international play, and for what Coach K likes to do on the court both on offense and defense. I don’t see Lamar Odom making the team, but I very well could be wrong. Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook proved themselves worthy last summer and during the 2010-11 NBA season. Rose was MVP of the entire league. Eric Gordon has a spot on the team. He shot the ball better than any player on Team USA during FIBA play, and his on-ball defense was top notch. I don’t see how Stephen Curry fits this style of play. International play is very physical, and he seems to always be chasing his man on defense, rather than boding him up. The real question marks for this team will be their ability to hit from outside, and guys like Kevin Durant and Eric Gordon can provide that. Lebron James and Dwyane Wade not so much, but they will use their defense to get themselves easy baskets.

  17. Dave says

    You have the Mirotic incorrectly reversed. He was drafted by Houston then traded to ‘sota then ended up on the Bulls who still own his rights.

    • NBAFAN8 says

      @ snook

      Derrick Rose is a VERY good player, and I agree he should make the team, but Eric Gordon is a better international player, and has a game more fit for international play. Gordon can play off the ball, meaning he doesn’t need the ball in his hands. Gordon is also a much better 3pt shooter than Rose. With that being said, Gordon can also get to the basket with easy agianst international guards becuase of his 220lbs body. Derrick Rose will make the team, and in my opinion he should start, but a guy like Eric Gordon could make a HUGE difference off the bench with his ability to stretch the defense for guys like Rose, James, Wade, ect..to attack the rim and keep the floor spread for Dwight Howard to do his thing in the paint. Gordon can also help Team USA get into transition by getting his hands on passes. He may stand 6’3, but he has a 6’9 wingspan. Don’t overlook Eric Gordon like the rest of the world has his first three NBA seasons. He is turning himself into a complete player at the young age of 22, and before we know it, he might just be the best shooting guard in the NBA.

  18. Andrew says

    Sheridan you are nuts to think Drose will not be the starting PG especially if Coach K is coaching……but keep dreaming Paul will be a knicks uni one day with no knees….

  19. Adam says

    Gordon has to be on that roster after his last international showing (granted I’m a huge IU hoops homer). He can score with the best of them and has the size to compete at the highest of levels, plus he is an extremely undervalued defender.

    • EJFANRS says

      Yeah, you can’t deny what Gordon did last summer…I believe he shot something like 45% from 3pt and coach K called him the best shooter on the team. I want to say that Gordon was also the 4th best scorer on the team, and yet he was coming off the bench.

      • Gregel says

        Agree on Gordon. Moreover, LeBron, Wade, Bryant, Howard CP3, DRon have all played a ton of games together. This isn’t the throw it together teams of the past. Spain won’t know what hit them.


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