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However you build it, U.S. Olympic team will be very good

Jan 17, 2012, 2:10 PM EDT

Krzyzewski & Kobe Bryant Getty Images

We don’t know exactly what the U.S. Olympic team will look like in London. We know the pool of players — the 20 finalists — the roster will come from. And we know a couple other things:

Mike Krzyzewski and staff have some hard choices ahead of them.

This team will be very, very good.

The pool of finalists is loaded with guys who could help the United States win gold in London. Every last one of them. There is a reason the USA will be the prohibitive pre-games favorite to win it all. Here is what Coach K told reporters on Monday, via Sam Amick of Sports Illustrated.

“This will be the most talented of the three teams that I’ve had the opportunity to coach,” Krzyzewski said in a conference call with reporters on Monday. “They’re all older. They’re better. A number of them are at the prime times of their careers. I like the balance … we eventually could have with youth, guys in their prime.”

It will be hard to get it down to 12. Here is my guess right now (obviously injuries and play the rest of the season will alter what all of us, including Coach K, are thinking):

Guards: Dwyane Wade, Deron Williams, Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, Kobe Bryant (Cut: Erick Gordon, Russell Westbrook, Chauncey Billups). I would love to have Gordon’s shooting but I can’t put him over Kobe or Wade at the two. Same at the point where Westbrook is good but not better than the other three.

Forwards: LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, Kevin Love. (Cut Blake Griffin, Andre Iguodala, Rudy Gay, Lamar Odom, LaMarcus Aldridge.) Carmelo’s game has always been a great fit with the international style of play, LeBron and Durant are the two best scorers on the planet. I keep Bosh and Love over guys like Griffin and Aldridge because they have more range and consistency on their outside shot, and bigs who can step out like that matter a lot in international ball.

Centers: Dwight Howard, Tyson Chandler. As I and others have said, I want Chandler mostly go have some real size inside if and when the USA meets Spain for the gold medal, as most expect. Spain has size (Pau Gasol, Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka) that the USA has to match. If you want to just go with Howard you can bring back a forward like Griffin or Aldridge, or add a guard to the roster.

Either way they have the talent to win the gold. This team should rival any the USA has put together in terms of pure talent.

  1. danielcp0303 - Jan 17, 2012 at 4:03 PM

    I’d take Bosh and Williams off…add Griffin and Aldridge

  2. dirtydavis - Jan 17, 2012 at 5:01 PM

    PG: CP3
    SG: D3/KB24
    F: LBJ
    F: Durant
    C D12

  3. tomtravis76 - Jan 17, 2012 at 5:20 PM

    Its like saying I’ll take this super model over this super model, but I would cut Deron Williams and add Blake Griffin for the size plus to give him the experience for future international events.

  4. willardj - Jan 17, 2012 at 6:59 PM

    It would be a travesty for Deron Williams to make this team. He’s clearly been exposed as overrated since leaving Sloan’s highly efficient offense, much like Carlos Boozer.

    Since Kobe most likely won’t play, I hope that means Eric Gordon will play. He’s a very underrated star.

    I also think Iggy should make it over Melo. Yes, Melo is better, but there are plenty of scorers already. They need defenders, and Iggy is the perfect unselfish guy who can just play defense and distribute.

    As for the starting lineup I’d like to see: Paul, Wade, James, Bosh, and Howard. You have the chemistry of the Miami big 3 plus the best point guard and center in the league.

    For the second unit off the bench I’d like to see: Rose, Gordon, Iggy, Durant, and Odom. That’s basically the starting lineup for the FIBA World Championships except Gordon in for a Billups.

  5. tomtravis76 - Jan 17, 2012 at 7:47 PM

    Iam sure we would like to think this is going to be a “tryout”, but the players are basically going to let them know who is going to be on the team, if they want them all to play. Its the last Olympic games for the core from ’04.

  6. abasketballthing - Jan 17, 2012 at 9:51 PM

    Williams hasn’t been exposed. He distributed the ball very well last season in NJ, and his shooting was down because he had a wrist injury that required surgery. This year, he hasn’t been fully healthy, his team is awful and he isn’t fully motivated(just like Paul or Rose would not be if they were on such a bad team; and if you’re thinking Paul carried a similar NO team to the playoffs, remember their coaching staff drastically improved the team’s execution on defense, the team had good defenders in Okafor and Ariza, and David West was better than anyone currently playing for the Nets besides Williams). A healthy Williams is actually a better fit than Rose for this Olympics team. He brings better passing, mid-range and long-range shooting for a team that needs it. Rose doesn’t have anything of importance that LeBron and D-Wade don’t.

    Chris Paul is the perfect PG for that roster, but Deron is the second-best, and he should be the primary backup point guard. If possible, I’d leave Rose off the team, because there’s more than enough athletic scoring on the team, but I know the MVP can’t be left off.

    D-Wade should start at SG. He’s younger, faster and a better defender than Kobe, and this team will need to run quite a bit to be effective.

    There’s no way LeBron will not start at SF, but KD is a better fit. Having good shooters in the lineup will prevent opposing teams from hurting the USA’s half court offense by using zones. Also, having him there would allow the team to have a different skillset at each position.

    Bosh should be the starting PF if they want to go with a natural 4. He’s certainly not perfect, but he’s the one PF on the team that’s a great mid-range shooter and also a good defender. He’ll help give Howard space on offense without hurting the defense like Kevin Love would. Of course, if they want to use LeBron in that spot, they can do it while getting even better results

    The best center in the world by far is the obvious choice at the five.

    Melo shouldn’t make the team. He doesn’t bring anything KD doesn’t, and Durant is more efficient than him at everything. Odom should be in for him, if he can get back to his usual level. If he can’t, the spot should belong to Iguodala.

  7. tcclark - Jan 17, 2012 at 10:52 PM

    You’re not picking the right players. You’re focused on who’s better than who when you should be wondering who brings what to the table. you cut the best shooter and defender on the roster. you have nobody to spread the floor and break the zone. You’ll end up with Carmelo shooting 24 times a game and Kobe having to shoot a lot more than even he probably wants too. Have fun with that.

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