Organized Sports: Picking the Roster for Redeem Team II

USA Basketball 2008 Gold Medal Team

Excuse me while I get a bit rah-rah USA!

Organized Sports is a recurring sports column named for a seminal DC avant-hardcore song by the equally stupid and brilliant (to me, “equally stupid and brilliant” pretty much just means “brilliant”) band Void. Take from that what you will.

Since even the NBA Draft has passed us by now, basketball withdrawal will begin to set in for many pro basketball fans across the United States. Not to worry! The Olympics are less than a month away, and that means, once again, our pros will go overseas and prove, once and for all, that the USA is the best nation in the world in basketball. Seventeen players remain as finalists for the roster of Team USA that will defend the Gold brought back by 2008’s team (a.k.a. the Redeem Team, because it rhymed with Dream Team). It was eighteen, but today Dwyane Wade announced he’s out for the Olympics due to knee surgery (and possibly because he wanted to get paid). They’ll whittle that roster down to 12 before the Games in London. After the jump, see who I’d take, and why.

The Finalists

Carmelo Anthony – F – New York Knicks
Chris Bosh – F – Miami Heat
Kobe Bryant – G – Los Angeles Lakers
Tyson Chandler – C – New York Knicks
Anthony Davis – C/F – New Orleans Hornets
Kevin Durant – G – Oklahoma City Thunder
Rudy Gay – F – Memphis Grizzlies
Eric Gordon – G – New Orleans Hornets
Blake Griffin – F – Los Angeles Clippers
James Harden – G – Oklahoma City Thunder
Andre Iguodala – G/F – Philadelphia 76ers
LeBron James – F – Miami Heat
Kevin Love – F – Minnesota Timberwolves
Lamar Odom – F – Dallas Mavericks
Chris Paul – G – Los Angeles Clippers
Russell Westbrook – G – Oklahoma City Thunder
Deron Williams – G – Brooklyn Nets

The Starting Five

To start out, let’s go with the obvious starting five for the team: these five players no doubt deserve their place, not only on the team but in the starting lineup. You might argue with some of the choices, but I think it’s hard to definitely pick against any one of them.

PG – Chris Paul
On a team full of alpha dogs, the smallest member of the team might be the biggest, in terms of the respect he commands. He won’t need to take over in the fourth quarter the way he did so many times this past year for the Clippers, and he’ll probably be even more of a facilitator than he already is as the best traditional point guard in the NBA, but this is his year to run Team USA from the point. He’s also crafty and dirty enough to defend any international guard remotely close to his size.

Chris Paul Team USA

Chris Paul’s Team USA photo, apparently shot in front of the same background as my fourth grade picture.

SG – Kobe Bryant
He may not be the best shooting guard in the league anymore (more on that in a second), but he’s still up there, and this will likely be Kobe’s last shot to play for Olympic Gold. He was excellent for the team in 2008, and one could argue after his mysterious knee operations in Germany he might be in even better shape.

SF – Kevin Durant
Durant, who is the best shooting guard in the league now, should take the other wing spot. He should have no trouble guarding international small forwards, and his ability to score in every way possible will be even more entertaining in the spread-out international game. Look for the Durantula to hit some threes from closer to the half court line than the three point line in some of these games.

PF – LeBron James
He’s the best all-around player in the league, he developed a post game, he can defend four positions, he’s a great passer, and he’s too athletic for words. If we still have to have the argument that he folds in the clutch, that’s no matter here—there are plenty of other guys out of this group willing to take the last shot.

C – Tyson Chandler
The only center out of the finalists should start and finish every game, unless for some reason Team USA is behind. He’s a defensive force, a true shot blocker, and will be able to defend against the Gasol brothers on the Spanish team, the only real threat to Team USA. On top of that, he was a real leader, along with Kevin Durant, on the 2010 World Championship team.

Not This Time

In looking through the rest of the possibilities, three names stick out. Here they are, and why they should not make the team this year.

F – Lamar Odom
Though he represented Team USA well in the 2010 World Championships, Lamar played (or, really didn’t play) his way out of this chance at the Olympics, having a terrible year for the Mavericks and eventually being paid to just go away. As much as I love him—he’s a freakish talent, a swingman that isn’t just between two positions, but four or five, and was my favorite Laker to watch on those last two championship teams, he doesn’t belong here.

Khloe Kardashian

Will not be present for the 2012 Summer Games.

G – Eric Gordon
Gordon is a young star who also played well for Team USA in 2010, but he spent the past year hobbled by injury. Those guys who played this past year and earned their way into the discussion deserve the opportunity more than he does; moreover, he’ll surely get another chance in 2016, when, if he can stay healthy, he should be right in his prime as a perennial All-Star.

F – Anthony Davis
The best college player this past year and the consensus number one pick may belong on the team talent-wise, but many other players have paid their dues. Like Gordon, he’ll get his chance if he stays healthy and lives up to his potential.

Defending the Gold

These three players played well in 2008 for the Redeem Team, and have maintained their places as NBA All-Stars, and as such should get the chance to defend their Gold in London this year.

F – Carmelo Anthony
Alongside Dwyane Wade, Carmelo was the team’s best player in 2008, showing in international play something he has not really in the NBA as of yet: true leadership and a will to win. Hopefully playing for the Red White and Blue will get him back on track in New York as well. Hopefully he and USA assistant Mike D’Antoni can put their differences aside for a couple of weeks this summer.

F – Chris Bosh
The least appreciated but most lovable third of Miami’s Big Three is still one of the league’s best power forwards, and deserves this spot not only via seniority, but because his mid-range game is perfect for international play.

Chris Bosh Littlefoot

To those who do not believe Chris Bosh looks like a dinosaur, see him without his uniform!

G – Deron Williams
D-Will’s fantastic point guard play has been wasted in New Jersey, and if he decides to stay, will be wasted in Brooklyn. So let’s give him a chance to have some real talented guys to play with this summer, and show everyone what he can do when he has a supporting cast around him.

Tough Decisions

Now, with the starting five and three returning reserves chosen, we have six players remaining for four spots: Rudy Gay, Blake Griffin, James Harden, Andre Iguodala, Kevin Love, and Russell Westbrook. Here’s where it gets tough; you can’t go wrong with any of these guys, and I’d be happy selecting four at random, but I will not. Instead, here’s what I’ll do: I’ll line them up by their nebulous positions and see who comes out on top.

F – Kevin Love vs. Blake Griffin
While Blake Griffin is one of the most exciting players in the league to watch, Kevin Love may be the best power forward overall. He plays below the rim, but is the league’s best rebounder, and has a long range game Griffin can’t match. Neither one can defend that well, so there’s no advantage either way there, and Griffin dunks more spectacularly, but Love deserves the spot on the team.
Kevin Love

F – Rudy Gay vs. Andre Iguodala
This is a tough one. Both have good size, are athletic. Rudy Gay is much better offensively, Iguodala much better defensively. Because there are plenty of scorers on this team, especially at the two and three positions, I’ll go with Iguodala, but it’s a tough one.
Andre Iguodala

G – Russell Westbrook vs. James Harden
Maybe I’m a prisoner of the moment, but this one seems easy. James Harden disappeared in the Finals, and Russell Westbrook most assuredly did not. James Harden is a great sixth man, and compares favorably to Manu Ginobili, being a star coming off the bench who changes the game up by alternating a very athletic ability to slash to the rim with good outside shooting, but Russell Westbrook’s intensity, his play right on the line between control and chaos, puts him ahead in my book. Besides, I really like him and want to watch him do some more of this.
Russell Westbrook

With the one remaining spot, since I had such a tough time picking between the two, let’s throw Rudy Gay into the mix. Which gives us a final roster of:

Carmelo Anthony – F – New York Knicks
Chris Bosh – F – Miami Heat
Kobe Bryant – G – Los Angeles Lakers
Tyson Chandler – C – New York Knicks
Kevin Durant – G – Oklahoma City Thunder
Rudy Gay – F – Memphis Grizzlies
Andre Iguodala – G/F – Philadelphia 76ers
LeBron James – F – Miami Heat
Kevin Love – F – Minnesota Timberwolves
Chris Paul – G – Los Angeles Clippers
Russell Westbrook – G – Oklahoma City Thunder
Deron Williams – G – Brooklyn Nets

Not bad at all. If you feel like it, in the comments, please tell me where I was wrong. Until then, I’m looking forward to London.

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2 thoughts on “Organized Sports: Picking the Roster for Redeem Team II

  1. Bosh is out due to injury, so that means Griffin probably takes his slot.

    But that doesn’t really help with the backup center spot, so Team USA may actually be forced to go with Davis as the 12th man in case something happens to Chandler.

    I mean, would we really want to rely on Griffin or Love guarding Marc Gasol?

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