This is a topic that absolutely kills me every time someone brings it up. Whenever I hear something about USA basketball I can’t help but think about the lack of competence of the people in charge. The US team has been embarrassed over the past 4 years in International competition. There was the struggle at the World Championships in Indianapolis, and then the horrible performance at the Olympics that still makes me want to throw up everywhere. Even before these disappointments USA basketball had been struggling. Heck the only thing I can remember from before these things already mentioned is when Vince Carter jumped over that 7 footer. Sure you always hear about the dream team and how dominant they were, but really we can’t live in the past anymore. We have been the ones underachieving each and every year. So that is why I am writing this post. To tell you how I think the next USA team should be put together.
To start I need to say that over the last year or so the directors have done some nice things. The coaching staff that they have put together is a solid one, and they have the correct people in charge. That is all well and good, but the real problem with these past few USA Basketball teams has been the players. I don’t think I need to say that there have been too many one-on-one players who don’t know how to play team basketball, and have no interest in playing defense. Everyone already knows that (well except for the guys who pick the team each year). I liked the steps taken last year when they looked for a defensive stopper, but they ended up going with Shane Battier. I know Coach K and him go way back and everything, but really Shane Battier? Out of everyone that you could pick, you picked Shane Battier? Here is a nation that has all of these wildly multi-skilled stars that are athletic freaks, and you choose Shane Battier. Like I said I love that fact that they are looking for a locker-room guy, and a solid defensive player, but you can find someone better than Shane Battier. So they were looking for a role player, but what they forgot was to bring along a shooter. You look at all of these teams that they lose to and they all have players who make 3’s. How about we use all of this talent and athleticism that we have and spread these teams out like the Suns and Mavs do then dribble penetrate (which no one will be able to stop) and then dish it out. The thing is you have to have players who can make the trifecta. Sure we had the young stars playing like Lebron, Wade, Carmelo, and Paul, but none of those guys are even really dependable 3 point shooters. How about Michael Redd? Does that name ring a bell to anyone. Here is a guy who would have been in high contention for the MVP award had he not sufferred a knee injury in January. This guy can flat out shoot the rock. Heck, he can flat out score period. Yet he doesn’t even seem to be on team USA’s radar screen. If that doesn’t work for you then how about Gilbert Arenas who was left off of last year’s team USA. Oh yeah one more solution to this shooting problem, his name is Ray Allen. He happens to be the record holder for most 3 pointers made in an NBA season. Yet he isn’t the one that is playing, it is his “half as talented teammate who can’t shoot it into the ocean” Luke Ridnour. At least two of these 3 guys that I just mentioned need to be playing significant minutes in the next Olympic Games.
So after we get a few shooters on the team we have to go after some guys that get after it. Some guys who are intimidating. Some players who are going to give you 110%, and they don’t care who they are playing. They are going to be the ones who are inflicting pain. Way too many nice guys on this team. Do you think Jordan didn’t trash talk all of these guys when he was playing on the dream team? How about Bird? Yeah remember Larry Legend, the same guy who took the 3 point shootout like it was going to kill him if he lost. Nowadays you have guys like Lebron who cruise through the regular season, then go to the All-Star events, and moves as fast as Rosie O’Donnell in the Skills Competition. Ok, so we need someone like Ron Artest. He’s a defensive stopper, as good a defender as there is in the NBA one-on-one. He can make the trifecta at a decent rate, and he can score one-on-one in the post and get to the line. Oh yeah also, this guy is scary. Guess what if you were playing for Argentina you probably wouldn’t want to be going up against Ron Artest. Sure you have all the baggage that comes with him, but really come on you have to try to win at all costs. I love Bruce Bowen and his game, but Artest is twice the all around player that Bowen is.
Ok, that problem is solved. Now there is a problem that I really don’t know how to solve, but there must be a way. USA Basketball has to get all of the players who want to rest in the offseason to want to play for their country in these events. I don’t know how you do that, but there has to be a way. You do whatever it takes to get guys like KG to play on this team. I don’t care what you have to offer them, or what you need to give up but you need to do something. You can’t have guys like J.J. Redick and Adam Morrison on your roster. Seriously those guys are probably the two biggest NBA duds of all time. Everyone knew that it was going to happen like this. Morrison had an outside chance of being solid, but c’mon the guy is a cone out there on defense, and he isn’t that great of a shooter. Also he isn’t going by anyone on the offensive end. I don’t care what anyone says, but both him and Redick need to be removed from the possible roster immediately. Looking back USA Basketball has made this mistake before. Remember the 2004 Olympic team. Yeah me either cause they sucked, but Nick Collison was on there roster. Yeah that’s right that isn’t a typo I said Nick Collison. No really Nick Collison. No I don’t know who he plays for now either. Wait does he still play?
Lastly we need to adress the style of play of this team. You need to take two centers on this team at most, and neither of those centers need to be named Brad Miller. Look at the coaching staff that you have. Coach K, D’Antoni, McMillan. We need to be playing uptempo basketball, and rotating in players like a hockey team. That is one of the HUGE advantages that we have. We are about 20 stars deeper than every other team on the planet. We have sooo many guys who can flat out play. So why not use them all. Keep fresh bodies out there at all times, keep the pace up, and if someone gets hot then leave them out there. You have to take a couple Centers just so you have some type of post-up threat, and you have someone to clog up the lane. So with all of this being said I will now give you my proposed Roster for the 2008 Olympic team.
PG: Jason Kidd (I don’t care how old he is. this guy competes, and knows how to win and distribute the ball.)
SG: Michael Redd (guy can flat out shoot, and flat out score. He will only get better over the next couple years.)
SF: Ron Artest (Yeah that’s right, shut down defender, formidable scorer, and a scary dude.)
PF: Lebron James (You laugh, but really he is 6’8 with plenty of rebounding ability. remeber we are spreading the floor out and rotating guys in like crazy. Obviously him and Artest are interchangable.)
C: Amare Stoudemire (A finisher inside, solid rebounder, will be a very solid jump shooter by this point. Also very solid pick and roll guy.)
BN: Shawn Marion (your do it all hustler/defender/finisher) BN: Raja Bell (yeah I know a bunch of Suns, but he goes along with the toughness/defense/3 pointer shooter theme.) BN: Tim Duncan (I know it will be a task to get him to play, but he is as consistent of a player that you will find. also gives us a post-up game.) BN: Dwyane Wade (electric guy to have coming off of the bench, and probably will be the best player in the world at this point.) BN: Gilbert Arenas (another scorer/shooter coming off of the bench. This guy is determined and if he isn’t hitting shots you can just yank him. He can also play some decent D if he plays limited minutes.) BN: Dwight Howard (we all know that this guy is a freak. He is a monster inside, and hopefully will have a formidable post-up game by this time. We need him on this team.) BN: Baron Davis (We are all seeing what this guy is capable of. He is a ball hawk on defense, and can score at will. If he is healthy why not take him.) BN: Chris Paul (Probably the future of American point guards along with Deron Williams. I can’t decide between the trio of Paul, Williams, and Davis, but you have to go with two of them. I leave out Williams for now, but injuries or other circumstances could change that.) BN: Ray Allen (just feed him and watch them drop.) BN: Gerald Wallace (This guy can do it all, and is a guy who would definitely give 110%.) BN: Chris Bosh (Last big guy on the team, will be a perennial all star at this point in his career.) BN: Josh Howard (He will probably the best all-around player in the league year in and year out at this point.)
If USA Basketball does this I promise you we will be a success in the next Olympics. With the right blend of role players and stars playing for the right coaches no one should be able to stay close to us. Obviously there are notable guys missing from this team. Kobe has just logged too many minutes, and I hate to leave him off but really I don’t think he would be a help to this team. If he was put on the team though it wouldn’t reck my world. Carmelo is another guy I left off, because all he can really give you is offense, and it is all one-on-one. And that’s the way the cookie crumbles…….