USA makes up for lack of size with athleticism
If you look at the Team USA roster, you may notice that
there is but one name with a C next to it — and that’s not for captain.
Defensive Player of the Year Tyson Chandler is the lone true center on the
roster for the Americans. He is tremendous shot blocker and rim protector, but he
can't play 40 minutes a night.
You might also notice that there is no Dwight Howard, Chris Bosh or Andrew
Bynum on the roster as well. Plus, the team lost the services of Blake Griffin
to a knee injury in camp. So while Team USA may be lacking somewhat in height, it
makes up for it with tremendous athleticism.
This team relies on a lot of relentless defensive pressure.
What we saw in all of their exhibition games — Brazil included — is that when
the US turned up the defensive intensity, it sort of mitigated the size issue.
This United States team is not going to have any trouble on the defensive end.
The Americans are athletic enough to provide help from the weak side and it's
going to be very difficult for their opponents to get close to the basket. The
US players are very strong, very athletic and so quick that they can really
dominate and change a game from the defensive end.
If you look at the construction of this team, it's hard to believe that this
squad could be better than the 2008 version without such players as Howard and
Bosh as well as Dwyane Wade - amongst others - because of their versatility.
It may just be a better team because of its tremendous
This is a group that can do so many things and coach Mike Krzyzewski can throw
out so many different creative lineups. During their scrimmages in Las Vegas
with Chris Paul and Deron Williams out, Russell Westbrook and Kobe Bryant started
in the backcourt with a front line of LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Kevin
That’s three guys who are at least 6-foot-8 and are totally
interchangeable. Carmelo played center, but they all guarded the opposing center
and all could interchange as all five can play multiple positions.
At times, Team USA will feature a smaller lineup that runs and pressures.
On the tall side, there’s 7-1 Chandler, one of the best shot blockers in the
game, 6-10 Kevin Love, a proven NBA All-Star, and the question mark of the
recent college kid and No. 1 pick in the draft from NCAA champion Kentucky in
Anthony Davis. We've seen Davis, also 6-10, succeed at the collegiate level, but
he hasn't proven himself at the NBA level, yet.
Davis was a shot-blocking machine in college and has shown
flashes of it, playing above the rim, in Team USA’s exhibitions games so far.
The rookie is clearly not afraid to compete, is clearly athletic enough and
wants to win, but I expect to only see him in spot minutes or not at all during
Team USA will go small often with its interchangeable forwards and their big
Do they give up something in size? Yes. Will every team try to pound the ball
inside on them? Yes again, but I'm not sure that tactic is going to be
Team USA's opponents will try to slow the game down and pound it inside. But
because this team is so explosive on both ends of the court, if an
opponent gets behind, it’s going to have to change its game to catch up. Then
the opponent won't be able to pound it inside and that's where Team USA will
There isn’t an international team that can handle the
defensive pressure of what Team USA has shown in the exhibitions and practices
Coach K’s club can make up for its lack of having a consistent 7-footer on the
floor at all times with the versatility, quickness, strength and athleticism,
which is unparalleled on any team in these Olympic Games that I have seen. This
is a team that dominates defensively from the perimeter, creates tons of open-court
opportunities off of turnovers and steals and applies relentless defensive
pressure forcing opponents into bad shot selections.
Team USA is the clear favorite. I really commend Team USA chairman Jerry
Colangelo for the job he's done.
He just didn't have a lot of centers to pick from.