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What would Team USA under-23 Olympic team look like?

Jun 15, 2012, 7:37 PM EST

Kevin Durant, Team USA Getty Images

David Stern wants it. Mark Cuban wants it. Most of his fellow NBA owners want it.

At his pre-finals press conference, David Stern again said he wants the Olympic basketball program to start following the soccer model — under-23. There would be one World Cup every four years with no age restrictions, but the Olympics would be for the young set. We’ll see if he can convince FIBA and other nations this is a good idea. But it poses an interesting question:

What would an under-23 Team USA look like for the London Olympics?

Gold medal good.

Matt Norlander at CBSSports.com put together a list  to get me thinking (some are 23 now but would qualify under international rules), and Ben Standig of CSNWashington.com has done one as well. I’ve tweaked those and will give you my starting five and key subs.

Team USA under-23 starting five:

Point Guard: Derrick Rose. Well, it would be Rose except his knee is blown out so…

Russell Westbrook. You can spare me you’re “he shoots to much and doesn’t pass” crap, the guy assisted 29 percent of his teammates baskets when he was on the floor this past season, and that was down from years past. The guy gets to the rack and if you take away his shot he’ll set guys up. He’s an elite athlete. How many people around the globe can cover him? Exactly.

Shooting Guard: Eric Gordon. Remember he played a surprisingly big role for Team USA at the World Championships in Turkey and could do so again in London because he can knock down shots from about Ireland. Good defender, smart team player, can play in transition or knock down jumpers. Best young two guard in the game.

Small Forward: Kevin Durant. Do I really need to explain this? The best pure scorer walking the planet right now (better than LeBron, by a whisker) and a solid team defender. A leader.

Power Forward: Kevin Love. He has a game perfectly suited for international basketball because he can rebound, is the best outlet passer in the game and can shoot from the parking lot and knock it down. He’s going to play a big role in London as it is.

Center: Anthony Davis. You want a long, agile shot blocker for the international game, one that can run the floor. Davis is all those things right now — a freak of nature. For the NBA game it will take a couple years for him to get his offense where it needs to be, but for his “defense and rebounding” role on this team, perfect fit.

Bench players: Kyrie Irving, James Harden, Stephen Curry, Bradley Beal (the guy can play and shoot), Blake Griffin,Kenneth Faried, DeMarcus Cousins.

You telling me that team isn’t winning the gold? That team might win the gold against a full slate of regular London players.

  1. boondocksaint224 - Jun 15, 2012 at 7:52 PM

    Every last one of these guys, save Davis, Irving, Harden, Beal, Robinson and Cousins are 23, disqualifying them from an under-23 team.

    • gmen4life33 - Jun 15, 2012 at 8:40 PM

      Its 23 and under. For example, if a soccer player is 23, they can play in the Olympics.Kurt worded t weird (under-23 vs 23-under) but he is right.

      • cosanostra71 - Jun 15, 2012 at 9:02 PM

        It is actually worded correctly, but the wording makes it confusing. Under-23 = 23 and under. It makes no sense to me either, but then again very few things about Olympic rules do.

  2. Louis Tumblin - Jun 15, 2012 at 9:05 PM

    Most of the guys are the future stars of the NBA.

  3. numba1recx19 - Jun 15, 2012 at 9:26 PM

    WOW Greg Monroe should be on there starting

  4. gcclark98 - Jun 15, 2012 at 9:42 PM

    hmmmmmmm….. the argument before the dreamteam was that it didnt have the worlds best players? So the olympic committee stumbled onto some logic….let the best players play…..now stern is lobying to go back to less than the best players…. i dont think kenyans should be in the 1600m either though!!!! says mr. barkley

    • addictedzone - Jun 16, 2012 at 10:49 AM

      Barkley gets his wish. Mainly because the 1600 isn’t an Olympic event.

  5. tsi431 - Jun 15, 2012 at 10:10 PM

    What would Team USA under-23 Olympic team look like?

    A bronze medal.

  6. rodgersmvp - Jun 15, 2012 at 10:21 PM

    You’ve stated in earlier articles that the US will have trouble beating Spain – and then you say a team of 23 or under would win gold against normal competitors?

  7. cdins - Jun 15, 2012 at 10:29 PM

    Eric gordan is becoming overrated. Hes been hurt forever and yet hes been “one of the best young two guards” for 3 years now.

  8. BigBeachBall - Jun 15, 2012 at 10:31 PM

    under 23 policy would result in fewer gold medals over the long term…. so yea… probably not a good idea… bad policy… wha if someone gets injured… derrick rose style… by the time the next olympics rolls around, they will be over the age-limit… dumb.

  9. bandanamac - Jun 15, 2012 at 10:44 PM

    We just saw a Dream Team doc where Stern had a hand in lobbying for pros to play in the Olympics and now he wants age restrictions? I absolutely cannot wait for this double-talking slug to retire. It was all good when his boys Magic and MJ put it on the line to help revitalize the league now he has made his mark so he wants to shut the door while he rides off into the sunset.

    At the end of the doc was the quote we may never see a more dominant team again. I guess he will make sure of that won’t he?

  10. clowncavernius - Jun 15, 2012 at 10:49 PM

    No Brandon Knight?

  11. jagwar73 - Jun 16, 2012 at 12:15 AM

    I wouldn’t want DeMarcus Cousins on this team. Yes he is talented, but also disruptive. I’d worry he would hurt us more than help.

  12. hickoryhigh - Jun 16, 2012 at 1:15 AM

    Kurt, you list Durant as “The best pure scorer walking the planet right now (better than LeBron, by a whisker)”. You’re correct that KD is the best, but does that mean that Carmelo and Kobe (and probably Dirk) are all on that whisker ahead of LeBron? Because they are all better pure scorers. You can argue that LeBron is the best overall player, but he’s not even close to the best pure scorer.

    • borderline1988 - Jun 17, 2012 at 12:51 AM

      Agreed.
      Lebron is the best player in the world because he does so much for your team…He’s a better passer, rebounder, defender, and is the most athletic of the players you just mentioned.

      That being said, Durant is the best pure scorer in the game, by a lot more than a whisker. Kobe…meh. He’s good, but when you shoot like 43% over an entire season, you can’t be considered the best pure scorer.

  13. drewvt6 - Jun 16, 2012 at 1:21 AM

    Don’t forget the soccer tournament has several overage players…I’d guess fiba would go with at least two…who would those be? Dwight Howard?

    • rodgersmvp - Jun 16, 2012 at 3:33 AM

      I’d go with LeBron and Chris Paul instead of Westbrook and Eric Gordon.

  14. chuckleberry1974 - Jun 16, 2012 at 9:07 AM

    I think you’d need to include John Wall on any U-23 team.

  15. southpaw77 - Jun 16, 2012 at 2:06 PM

    Basketball wants to follow soccers model? Oh they have, look at the flopping.

    How about do your own thing and go age 25 and under?

    Basketball shouldn’t follow soccer on anything, the constant hitting the ground and acting like you been shot is enough right there.

  16. slimsteve22 - Jun 18, 2012 at 12:04 AM

    Wrong. Steph Curry is 24 already.

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