PART 1: PLAYER BY PLAYER
1995, It was all a dream. 15 years later it’s time to wake up now. Y’all been sleeping? Sure Team USA isn’t as infamous as past American teams. Coach K himself stated it wasn’t a ‘powerhouse’.
The team doesn’t have a Kobe, a LeBron, a Carmelo or even a Shaq but the team is still an incredible collection of some of the best talent the NBA has to offer. The unit boasts both players with youth and experience and that are versatile and specialist.
This USA roster may even be one of the better actual ‘teams’ this basketball nation has assembled in recent years. Put this team against the new Miami Heat and there would be no contest, it’d be an ownership.
The city would always belong to the country. Now with respect to Rajon Rondo, (who should be there) let’s breakdown 12 reasons why the development of this USA Basketball team looks as fresh and exciting as the growing, talented nations their facing.
Chauncey Billups: Guard, 6-3, 202 – Denver Nuggets
This young American team needs an ‘old guy’. NBA veteran, NBA champion, Chauncey has helped successfully re-define two NBA franchises and now he’s here to give definition to the USA squad. Billups was never given his full credit when he was the best point guard in the league, but Chauncey has always been a man who goes about his business quietly. This type of hard work will be to the USA’s profit and everyone else’s loss. Billups is a seasoned veteran with a wealth of experience from his time with Boston, Minnesota, Detroit and Denver. You have to keep guard of a player like him. No matter how lucky you are, even though Chauncey has traded his ‘bad boy’ image for baby blue the former teammate of ‘Da Kid’ aint playing around.
Tyson Chandler: Center, 7-1, 235 – Dallas Mavericks
The word ‘beast’ gets thrown around a lot in this sport, but the new Maverick is the type of guy that throws beasts around. How apt that Tyson is Chandler’s given name. It almost seems like a nickname. This guy is a veteran now but can still run, bang, board, dunk and ferociously finish fast breaks like he had an ‘R’ next to his name on the roster. Leave this guy open and BING! Chandler aint friends with you anymore.
Stephen Curry: Guard, 6-3, 185 – Golden State Warriors
Baron Davis was once the man in Golden State but now ‘that dude’ is Monta Ellis. With that being said however Stephen Curry may now be battling with Ellis for the leader position. Warriors always play hard and even though Stephen can’t curry championship favor in Southern California he can sure help make things Golden for the United States. Stephen’s quick, tenacious, quick, dynamic and quick again. Did I catch you off guard? Well that’s exactly what Curry does. He’s too hot for you.
Kevin Durant: Guard, 6-9, 230 – Oklahoma City Thunder
The poster boy for this USA campaign. Can we believe in him? Well look at it this way. He’s already a poster boy in the NBA, so young and so little removed from being a sophomore. Kevin Durant’s already playing like a senior, graduating above the rest of the dropouts and he’s doing ‘A good a** job’ at it too. KD s redefining the forward position all whilst being a throwback to the classic small forwards in basketball history all at the same time. Kevin is already putting up Kobe and Iverson in their prime scoring numbers. Durant is already creeping up on stars like Carmelo Anthony. He’s claimed his place. He’s already helped people forget that the Oklahoma Thunder is a dodgy Seattle Supersonic expansion hybrid. Now he’s about to make people remember that sometimes dreams become nightmares. Can we believe in him? You know the answer is straight Obama.
Rudy Gay: Forward, 6-8, 230 – Memphis Grizzlies
Tall but agile, strong but speedy. Gay was one of those young, up and comers back in the day. He may be a veteran now but he’s one of the best in the league and he’s still on the up. Maybe the locals are too busy looking for Elvis but it’s hard to get noticed and become famous in Memphis, just ask the Gasol brothers. On the worlds stage however everyone will be able to see how good Gay is. A real team player who’s happy to step up to the superstar role if needed. Gay was there at the start of the resurgence of big-time small forwards before guys like Kevin Durant. So don’t be rude now. Recognize a grizzled vet when you see one.
Eric Gordon: Guard, 6-3, 222 – Los Angeles Clippers
Gordon is one of those guards that can quietly score at will (case in point: his 18 against Greece) take rebounds off bigs and lock people down and he’s still so young. Eric is still a raw talent in this league and boy when he gets fresh this Prince will be King. He’s a ‘revolution’, a part of the ‘new power generation’. Gordon may be small but he’s built like a dump truck. He kind of looks like someone shrunk Charles Barkley some more and just like Chuck before him in ’95 Eric may steal the show from the bigger names in these championships.
Danny Granger: Forward, 6-8, 228 – Indiana Pacers
Things sure can get quiet in Indiana when Playoff games aren’t being played in Madison Square Garden and beer isn’t getting thrown in Detroit. Without all this one player has still been making news, Danny Granger. Is he another ‘most improved’? Not anymore, he’s so much more. Just like in Memphis, stars in Indiana may not shimmer as bright as they once did but they still shine. Granger can score. His numbers are almost touching Kobe. As a player (if you don’t know), he’s not quite like LeBron James and he’s not quite like Kevin Durant, he’s somewhere in-between. Now you know.
Andre Iguodala: Guard/Forward, 6-6, 207 – Philadelphia 76ers
The legendary A.I. of Philly may have been ‘the answer’ but this A.I. just leaves you with questions. How does he dunk like that? Is he really that quick? Andre Iguodola has strength, speed and finesse all at the same time. Want a scorer? You’ve got it. Want a rebounder? He’s got it. Want speed? Just keep an eye on him if you can?
Want energetic plays that spark plug the team to life? He’s just shown you another one. In these championships Iguodola will have a lot of the answers but blink and you’ll miss him. Any more questions?
Kevin Love: Forward, 6-10, 260 – Minnesota Timberwolves
As Kevin has endeared himself with the NBA he sometimes has faced ‘No Love’, but just like the Eminem and Lil’ Wayne classic Kevin’s excellent output has been his ‘Recovery’. Kevin is one of Minnesota’s best players and although that isn’t necessary a hard thing Love has devoted a lot of hard work and energy in such a short space of time in the L. Maybe people doubted K. Love because his physique is more Luc Longley than Amare Stoudemire, but who cares? If it gets the job done who can hate on that?
Lamar Odom: Forward, 6-10, 230 – Los Angeles Lakers
Lamar is a star in Los Angeles, he’s smooth as silk and he’s so good that all of Hollywood should be ‘Keeping up with the Lakers’, (with no disrespect to the Kardashians). Lamar may be a sixth man in LA, behind the other celebrities on court but he’s a big reason the Lakers have won so much and he’ll be a big reason behind the success of Team USA. It’s Lamar’s versatility that sets him apart from the rest. He’s Magic (Johnson) in a forwards body. Lamar’s a little bit like that infamous rug in ‘The Big Lebowski’, ‘he really ties a team together’ and if you’re confused by this obviously your not a baller.
Derrick Rose: Guard, 6-3, 190 – Chicago Bulls
Derrick has rose to prominence during his rookie and sophomore years in the NBA. Now the Chi-town native may arguably be the best Point Guard in the league, leading arguably the best nation in the World Championships. Derrick will have to carry more of the load in Rajon Rondo’s absence but to be fair he was and is carrying the load of the very young Chicago Bulls with limited experience and exposure in the NBA. Derrick can shoot, dish, drive and finish above the rim. Rose should ensure that the US don’t get pricked by speedy international guards, just like Carlos Arroyo did in the past.
Russell Westbrook: Guard, 6-3, 187 – Oklahoma City Thunder
Russell Westbrook suffers from that familiar Scottie Pippen disorder. Know much about him? Well that’s alright, he plays in the shadow of Kevin Durant in Oklahoma but take two of his dunks and call me in the morning and you may feel differently. Durant’s the man but when you see thunder, you get lightening too and sometimes that’s just as potent. Forget what they say, lightening does strikes twice. Just like lightening fast speed and athleticism or lightening shocking dunks. Westbrook is a quiet storm and exactly what Oklahoma City and the USA need. A guy that can score and a guy that can strike energy into his team when the star player is striking or when the star player is having a rainy day. No matter what guys like Westbrook shine.
So these are 12 reasons why Team USA can achieve their one goal. Sure this isn’t a dream team but the reality is this team has so much silver lining were about to see them glitter in all their gold.