Jul 21, 2010, 12:28 PM EDT
No Kobe, No LeBron, no problem. Team USA is just going to coast to the World Championship. Because we are the USA and we are that deep with talent. That’s what you all seem to think, based on everything from message boards to betting lines.
You’re all wrong.
The USA is sending a “B” team to Turkey, and the “A” team needed late-game heroics from Kobe to beat Spain and win the gold. Kevin Durant is a stud, but how does his game translate to the international game? This is a team full of guys inexperienced on a big international stage, and it is going to be a learning experience. That’s good, the kids need to learn, but we all know lessons like this can come at a price.
Remember 2006, when a younger Team USA didn’t respect, and didn’t know much about Greece, and Theo Papaloukas destroyed them on the pick-and-roll all game? I could see that happening again. And Papaloukas is back with Greece, by the way.
The Painted Area, maybe the best site follow for international basketball, suggests the USA should be underdogs in this tournament.
Spain does not have Pau Gasol but it has everyone else from the silver medal team of two years ago. Ricky Rubio won’t go to Minnesota but he will go to Turkey. You say no Gasol weakens Spain up front, but can the USA’s front line really exploit that? The USA is starting Brook Lopez at center and likely backing him up with Tyson Chandler. Or JaVale McGee. We’re not exactly intimidating people here.
Heck, Brazil can throw a front line of Nene, Anderson Varejao and Tiago Splitter out there and how well can the USA match up with that.
And all those big men can camp out in the lane, take away driving lanes and block shots — there is no defensive three seconds in international basketball. Like college, you can play all the zone you want and camp your big right in the middle of the paint. Russell Westbrook and Tyreke Evans are going to find the driving lanes much more clogged than they are used to.
Also Greece, France and Argentina will be good teams with a mix of NBA and European club talent.
The USA has the talent to win the gold. Kevin Durant may be young but he is the team leader and he is professional. But don’t go thinking the USA can coast.
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