Tuck: Tough Decisions For Team USA For 2012 Olympics

The 2008 American Gold Medal winning basketball team is expected to return the bulk of players for the 2012 Olympics.  The biggest problem facing the 2012 roster is incorporating some of the new talent.

Just think about last night’s All-Star game.  The crunch-time lineups were:

West- Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and Blake Griffin

East- Dwayne Wade, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Deron Williams, and Dwight Howard

All Americans.  All should be on the 2012 USA basketball team.  And that isn’t even including Derrick Rose, Kevin Love, LaMarcus Aldridge, Rajon Rondo, or Chris Bosh on the bench.

Somehow the roster itself has to be widdled down from 20 players to 12.  That’ll be easy compared to Coach K trying to figure out the 5 guys to have on the court at the end of a close game.

Seriously, look at those closing lineups again.  Now, try to just pick FIVE.

My guess is you’d play CP3, Kobe, LeBron, Durant, and Howard.  You certainly can get away with playing LeBron, Carmelo, or Durant at power foward.  You probably have to play Howard for defensive reasons and to clean the glass, but it wouldn’t be shocking to see more reliable foul shooters like Love, Bosh, or Aldridge playing either.

Durant, Kobe, and LeBron have to play I think.  I am not sure how I could leave any of the three off the floor.  If I had to take one off, I’d take LeBron off and play Wade in his place.  Based on end-game confidence, that actually is something to consider.  I suppose you could also play Wade over Paul, but not having a true point on the floor doesn’t seem logical when you have Paul and Williams.  Heck, even Rose and Westbrook.  It gets dizzying trying to figure out how to divide the minutes up.

One issue for this club could be it’s outside shooting…again.  Of all the players I’d expect to make the team, only Durant, Love, and Williams could be considered very good 3-point shooters.  Certainly other guys can shoot from deep, but there isn’t a automatic guy.

Then again, perhaps I am over-thinking this.  Four years ago Team USA didn’t win a game by less than 10 points.  They beat Spain in the Final 118-107.  They had won their previous 7 games by an average of 30 points.  That title game did have it’s moments though.  Spain cut the lead to 2 with 8 minutes to play before Kobe helped open it back up.  It again was trimmed down, but Kobe and Wade each made big shots to put Spain away.

Maybe it will be easy.  On paper, it probably is.  But oh the choices for Coach K this summer if a game does get tight.  As I watched the close of the All-Star game last night, I got excited thinking of the possibilities this summer.