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USA’s versatile, athletic roster will be fun to watch. Will win a lot, too.

Jul 7, 2012, 10:34 PM EDT

Blake Griffin arrives for a news conference announcing the players selected for the 2012 U.S. Olympic men's basketball team in Las Vegas Reuters

Al Davis would have loved Team USA.

Because speed kills.

Team USA basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski coded it with words like “athleticism” and “versatility” — and those are accurate, too — but the makeup of Team USA is both lightning quick but with length. This is a team that that can run the floor, make quick cuts in the half court offense and, most importantly, smother you defensively for 94 feet.

This is not a roster that is going to run you over, they’re just going to run right by you. (Well… Blake Griffin will do both.)

This is a roster that is the favorite to win gold. One that will try to do that with speed and defense; with overwhelming athleticism, not with size and brute strength.

This is a team that is going to be a lot of fun to watch. They will win and be entertaining.

Look at the final roster: LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love, Tyson Chandler, Blake Griffin, James Harden and Andre Iguodala. You can do a lot of things with that roster and Coach K plans to.

“Almost everybody on the team can play multiple positions…” Krzyzewski said. “You could have a lineup in there where LeBron James is the point guard with Kobe and Westbrook and Carmelo and Durant. Whatever you think about could happen because of its versatility and athleticism.”

The rash of injuries Team USA saw in the run-up to these games — Dwight Howard, Chris Bosh, LaMarcus Aldridge, Derrick Rose and Dwyane Wade) — impacted the roster, but this kind of design was probably the goal from the start.

It’s easy to see Love at center grabbing the rebound and whipping an outlet pass to Westbrook who takes a lob and throws the ally-oop to Griffin… and pity the poor Tunisian player who decides to block that shot. It’s a roster that can keep pressure on you for a full 40 minutes.

Pressure defense will be the calling card of the team, Krzyzewski said. They are taking it to heart, reportedly in practice the senior circuit is already harassing the USA Select Team players from the second the ball is inbounded. A lot of international teams can’t handle that kind of pressure and the resulting turnovers will lead to Team USA highlights.

The one concern for Team USA is size — Chandler is the only true center and the only 7-footer. He will be a defensive anchor inside. But when Team USA runs into Spain with both Marc and Pau Gasol starting then Serge Ibaka coming off the bench, will Kevin Love at the five and LeBron at the four be enough?

That’s where the pressure defense comes in — it’s hard for a smaller point guard to make a clean pass in the post when Andre Iguodala or Kobe Bryant are in their face. You can take Spain or any team out of it’s game by making it hard to get the ball to the players they want where they want, and that’s what the speed and athleticism of Team USA can do. It is disruptive.

Gold is not a lock, but some team is going to have to take it away from Team USA. And it is going to have to catch them to do it.

• One other note, if you want to know what numbers players will wear here you go, via Ben Goliver of

Paul 13, Westbrook 7, Williams 8, Harden 12, Iguodala 9, Bryant 10, Anthony 15, Griffin 14, Chandler 4, Love 11, Durant 5, James 6.

  1. buffalowned - Jul 7, 2012 at 10:55 PM

    If size is such a concern why not take hibbert over harden Iguodala or even griffin

    • sweetness1307 - Jul 8, 2012 at 9:21 AM

      I believe Hibbert is on the Jamaican National Team.

      • buffalowned - Jul 8, 2012 at 2:00 PM

        interesting.. never knew that. idk why that got so many thumbs down lol it was only a suggestion. kobe is the one who said he’s really concerned about the lack of size. you can’t tell me an all star center is less valuable than those 3 guys when their team is already stacked at forward and guard

      • myguy317 - Jul 9, 2012 at 8:23 PM

        No more than you probably belong on a European team ^^^^

  2. tomtravis76 - Jul 7, 2012 at 10:59 PM

    There is not one player from any of the other countries who could have made this squad. The Gasol Brothers, not even a concern. Ibaka, the OKC guys know his limited game. USA is going to run through the games. Cant wait to see them play live vs Spain on the 16th.

    • tomtravis76 - Jul 8, 2012 at 1:22 AM

      v brazil…

  3. danielgmz - Jul 7, 2012 at 11:03 PM

    I love the line ” throws the ally-oop to Griffin… and pity the poor Tunisian player who decides to block that shot”
    Great article, and great team USA. Even if I’m not american I’ll enjoy seeing them play.

  4. ahemahem - Jul 7, 2012 at 11:39 PM

    USA cannot mail it in. Spain, Argentina, Brazil, Lithuania, Czech Republic, Russia, Germany, Puerto Rico, Greece, Yugoslavia and Italy all have good teams.

    • beagle11 - Jul 8, 2012 at 12:31 AM

      You would need a time machine to play Yugoslavia… that country don’t exist anymore!

  5. 69jaredallen69 - Jul 7, 2012 at 11:47 PM

    Scratch Puerto Rico off that list…they did not qualify

    • connaniii - Jul 8, 2012 at 7:24 AM

      You cam scratch Greece too, there’s a good chance Nigeria might get in!

  6. acdc363 - Jul 7, 2012 at 11:57 PM

    I wish I could see this in person.

  7. jamesinva - Jul 8, 2012 at 12:51 AM

    Hey I am all for USA winning..,but with all of the injuries….i wouldnt totally be shocked if Spain did beat the US. I DONT want that happening but its not impossible…

  8. rezburna - Jul 8, 2012 at 1:56 AM

    People can’t seriously think there’s even a slight chance the US loses…..

  9. scoregasmic - Jul 8, 2012 at 2:14 AM

    Name one player on a different national team that could have made team USA…cause there isn’t one I can think of

    • cosanostra71 - Jul 8, 2012 at 3:47 AM

      Pau and Marc Gasol, Manu Ginobli, Tony Parker, Nene, Luol Deng, Ricky Rubio (if he was healthy). Oh and of course Wang Zhizhi.

    • connaniii - Jul 8, 2012 at 7:26 AM


  10. minnesotablizzard - Jul 8, 2012 at 3:00 AM

    If Rubio was healthy I would take Spain over the USA in the championship. Everything else sports wise has been going for them lately!

  11. BigBeachBall - Jul 8, 2012 at 7:22 AM

    i from spain, good luck to you my friends. I heard USA qualified for the Olympics… this is good, don’t get your hopes to high because Espana will crush everyone it’s path. Viva Espana!

    • tfoz5150 - Jul 8, 2012 at 9:29 AM

      You guys even play basketball? I thought your game was soccer, or running with some bulls or something…

      • jimeejohnson - Jul 8, 2012 at 10:58 AM

        Or fishing,

  12. mgavin78 - Jul 8, 2012 at 8:38 AM

    Carmelo sucks, he is overrated and should not be on this team.

    • evenminded - Jul 8, 2012 at 1:00 PM

      Umm, correct me if I’m wrong, but I seem to remember Carmelo being the tournament MVP/leading scorer/Team USA male athlete of the year at one point.

  13. thegeneral24 - Jul 8, 2012 at 8:53 AM

    how do you name a roster, and Kobe does not get top billing?

    • tfoz5150 - Jul 8, 2012 at 9:30 AM

      Wa wa waa!! His time has passed my friend.

  14. blueglaze - Jul 8, 2012 at 9:03 AM

    All these other countries have been naming one or two elite players on their team that is suppose to be responsible for taking a full USA team of elite players down…. Please… Only if ego gets in the way of team USA will they lose and it seems Lebron has finally grown up so… Ya Fear the Eagle world! Go USA!!!

  15. borderline1988 - Jul 8, 2012 at 10:02 AM

    I wouldn’t call this a lock. Spain has players that are built for the international game (7 foot, versatile big men who can shoot jumpers as well as anybody on the US team).

    It will come down to the guards. Can Rubio, Fernandez or Calderon handle the intense backcourt pressure that the Americans will bring, and get the ball to Spain’s bigs in the right places?
    Any turnover that a team will commit against the US will be turned in to 2 points, automatically. Spain needs to limit turnovers, and pound the ball inside.
    Let’s see if Lebron James or Kevin Love can handle Marc/Pau Gasol.

  16. miamatt - Jul 8, 2012 at 10:31 AM

    Ibaka was no kind of factor in the finals, hard to imagine him being a factor in the olympics.

  17. myguy317 - Jul 8, 2012 at 10:49 AM

    SnUb they played big Roy Hibbert, they should have left James Harden off , he did nothing in the finals , the thunder already had two players on the team , Team USA could suffer at the 5 spot !!

  18. isujames - Jul 8, 2012 at 10:58 AM

    dPlaying with the best in the NBA over the years has made these other countries better,I would’ve like to have seen a healthy USA vs. Spain matchup.This game would’ve been fun to watch, though I think a USA team with D.Howard,D.Wade,Bosh and the other healthy USA superstars would “crush,kill,dismantle,humiliate,” their competition along with the stars on their bench.

  19. jimeejohnson - Jul 8, 2012 at 11:00 AM

    Spain matches up with the rest of the world, but now with the USA. Nobody matches up with LeBron, Kevin Durant, Kobe, and the rest of the best basketball players in the world!

    • jimeejohnson - Jul 8, 2012 at 11:00 AM

      now = not

  20. isujames - Jul 8, 2012 at 11:07 AM

    ^ exactly, he had one decent game with four or five blocks.Thats it lol

  21. rickyspanish - Jul 8, 2012 at 2:33 PM


    Thanks for the heads up, my dvr is now set.

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