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Three spots remain on Team USA. Who should get them?

Jul 6, 2012, 9:06 PM EDT

Clippers' Griffin slam dunks against Grizzlies during Game 6 of their NBA Western Conference basketball playoff series in Los Angeles Reuters

We know who already had their tickets punched for London. Nine spots on the Team USA Olympic hoops roster have been secured and you can’t really argue with any of them: LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love and Tyson Chandler.

That means three spots are left with six players still on the roster: Blake Griffin, Andre Iguodala, Rudy Gay, Eric Gordon, James Harden and Anthony Davis.

“You could build a case for each of the contenders if you will, depending on what you want,” USA Basketball president Jerry Colangelo told the AP. “It’s like a menu: Another shooter, it’s Eric Gordon. You want a scoring guard, it’s Harden. You want a defensive specialist, it’s Iguodala. You want another guy with length who can shoot the ball and run the court, it’s Rudy Gay.”

Coach Mike Krzyzewski and Colangelo said they wanted to spend a couple days looking at guys in practice before they make their decisions, which get announced Saturday night. That’s the prudent thing to do.

We’re not so prudent. Here is who we think should make the team.

First note: Anthony Davis sat out the first day of USA camp Friday with a sprained ankle. He was a reach to make this team anyway, so we’re taking him out of the mix. He’ll get his shot in four years (we hope).


Blake Griffin. The United States is going to play a little bit small in the Olympics — lots of Kevin Love at center, LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony at the four. But with all the injuries to this team — Dwight Howard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Chris Bosh are all out — the USA needs some size. Griffin will be that. And in the first game he will some poor French guy the new Frederic Weiss. Clippers fans should be happy, for a guy who wants to win and has the work ethic of Griffin being around this caliber of players will grow him.

Eric Gordon. In international competitions where most of the opponents the USA faces can’t come close to matching up with them athletically, the USA will see a lot of zone played against them. There are a few ways to beat a zone, the best being drives or cuts into the heart of the paint, but the other is to shoot over the top. That’s what Gordon can do, a career 37 percent shooter from three who did this for Team USA in Turkey two years ago. He can spell Kobe at the two and stretch the floor. I leave James Harden off, but it’s close.

Andre Iguodala. The other decision is really Rudy Gay or Iguodala, and I lean Iggy for the reasons Jerry Colangelo mentions above — scoring will not be a problem for this team so I’ll take another wing defender you can bring off the bench. There are good defenders on this team — Kobe, LeBron — but you can never have enough defenders. Sorry Rudy, nothing personal.

  1. jvnyj - Jul 6, 2012 at 9:20 PM

    Blake Iggy and Gordon

  2. redstar504 - Jul 6, 2012 at 9:25 PM

    Don’t be so quick to rule Davis out. They need length bad. I would have liked to see them work something out with Lamar, who is the perfect type of player for international ball. If you can’t have Lamar Anthony Davis while young and injured is a more talented and better defending version of Lamar.

    I would love to see Davis get healthy and work with his teammates this summer but it might be hard for coach K to pass him up.

    I see the other three spots going to Griffen, James Harden, and Anthony Davis

  3. rocketsbb - Jul 6, 2012 at 9:42 PM

    Kobe isn’t that good of a defender…

    • southcidal - Jul 7, 2012 at 10:25 AM

      Best defnder at the 2 guard spot for the last 10 years. I guess coaches vote him to the All Defensive team every year because he’s a great scorer huh?

  4. lmvs2012 - Jul 6, 2012 at 10:15 PM

  5. highlander24 - Jul 6, 2012 at 10:50 PM

    The 3 G’s. I agree.

  6. moseskkim - Jul 6, 2012 at 10:51 PM

    I don’t think anyone argues with griffin. USA just doesn’t have much size. Next I’d go with iguodala over gay. I see 3 good playmakers in dwill cp3 and Lebron. Iggy will help the playmaking and I don’t undervalue Gay’s defense. Both are great IMO. Lastly, harden or Gordon? If both are healthy, I go with Gordon. Better 3 pt shooter/Experience In world championships. Both are enigmas. Harden had such a great year but played so horribly in the finals. Gordon has been injured a lot. Griffin, iggy, Gordon.

  7. jh4prez - Jul 6, 2012 at 10:58 PM

    Davis needs to be on this team over griffin

  8. jesse1834 - Jul 6, 2012 at 11:48 PM

    Uncle Drew!!!! I get buckets!!!!

  9. icewinna0 - Jul 6, 2012 at 11:59 PM

    I think if Harden didn’t have Durant or Westbrook with him he’d deffinately be an all-star. I would take Harden, Griffin, and Iguadala. It’s hard to Choose between Those guys tho. Tyson Chandler isnt near the talent as these five remaining. But U.S.A. Needs size

  10. taron2in1 - Jul 7, 2012 at 12:23 AM

    I agree, but I have not seen enough of Gordon to take him over Harden.

  11. billymc75 - Jul 7, 2012 at 8:13 AM

    I’m gonna say Tyson Chandler should be there, don’t know if he was invited but talk about a defensive big man that could help, plus a proven veteran .

  12. connaniii - Jul 7, 2012 at 8:53 AM

    I really see no questions as to whether Tyson Chandler should be in or not; there´s probably not a more dissuasive,deterrent, discouraging force in the game today than Chandler, and yes I am including Howard; Tyson is totally defensive minded and that´s a big plus among such a scoring bunch. As far as the three spots, I´d go with Griffin, Iguodala, and lastly Gordon in that order; sorry for Harden, but there ain´t just sufficient room.

  13. ccshocktalk - Jul 7, 2012 at 11:07 AM

    The 2010 Mens FIBA world championship team will be fine by replacing the injured players but the rest of the roster should stay the same (FIBA world championships are way harder and have more teams involved than the olympics).

    Chauncy Billups – replace with Derron Williams because billups is injured
    Derrick Rose – replace with Chris Paul because Rose is injured
    Stephon Curry – injured, replace with Kobe Bryant
    Kevin Durant
    Rudy Gay
    Eric Gordon
    Danny Granger
    Kevin Love
    Lamar Odom – replace because he pulled out, and replace him with LeBron James
    Russell Westbrook
    Carmelo Anthony

    D-Will and Chris Paul and Westbrook will split time at the point
    Kobe, Eric Gordon and will split time at the SG and Kobe at times SF
    Durant, Anthony, Gay, Granger, Iggy all will play the the 3, Iggy & Durant at times can play the 4
    LeBron, Love, will play the 4 with Iggy, Melo & Durant at times at the 4
    Tyson Chandler at the 5 and sometimes Kevin Love will play there as well

    That definitely will be small ball when we line up against Spain’s 3 seven footers, but our athleticism, ability to stretch the floor with precision shooting, and passing…that will be fine. And Spain will have Marc and Pau starting at 4 & 5, Chandler will have to man up on Marc which will be no problem. Pau can be handled by LeBron, or Love, hell even Durant can probably get after it with Pau. I really don’t see any other team presenting a problem to team USA. I know Blake Griffin can jump out of the gym, but I don’t think his game transcends very well overseas. We get raped by the officials when we dunk too hard, or dunk over people (Blakes specialties)…this is the 2010 World championship roster and just replaced some injured players…I think it should stay the same…they won in the FIBA world championships 2010 and deserve to win in 2012 olympics as well.

  14. manchestermiracle - Jul 7, 2012 at 12:51 PM

    Iggy, Gordon, Harden. I don’t understand why Griffin should be there. The international refs won’t let him get away with all the offensive fouls he commits. His whole offensive game is driving the basket and using his off arm to slam the defender on his way to the basket. Way overrated.

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