I must admit, I'm underwhelmed by the current edition of the U.S. Olympic basketball squad.
Sure, the mantra from everyone involved has been "This time, we've got it right!" After the embarrassment that was 2004, we've been waiting for the chance to reclaim what we believe is rightfully ours.
But you know what?
Things have changed since 1992.
Other national teams have gotten better. Specifically, they've gotten better at the international game, which is much different from the NBA.
The international game is all about good ball rotation and outside shooting. In the four exhibition games I've watched so far, none of the teams have even really attempted to establish a low-post game. Big men from other countries are spot-up, mid-range shooters (Okur, Nowitski, Yao).
Essentially, other teams are built around one or two big guys who can pass and shoot jumpers, a couple facilitators (point guards, usually) and a ton of shooters.
Meanwhile, the current makeup of the U.S. Olympic basketball team is as follows:
1. LeBron: dunker extraordinaire, not so good at the outside shot. Sure, he's come a long ways, but he's far from automatic.
2. Wade: Getting-to-the-hoop-guy extraordinaire. Not a consistent outside shooter.
3. Carmelo Anthony: More consistent with his jump shot, but not out to the 3-point line.
4. Kobe: Threat from anywhere on the court.
5. Jason Kidd: Can't shoot to save his life.
6. Chris Paul: Great from 10 feet, not a shooter otherwise.
7. Deron: Threat from anywhere on the court.
8. Dwight Howard: post-up guy, can't hit a jumper worth beans.
9. Bosh: Decent mid-range shot.
10. Boozer: great shooter until April of last year.
11. Prince: Decent shooter, but not great from the 3.
12. Redd: Great outside shooter. Excellent addition to the team.
See the problem? This team, the team that was supposed to be built for the Olympics, is built like an NBA All-Star team. Sure, at least this year's team has legitimate point guards (sorry, Marbury, sorry A.I.), but we're short on great outside shooters.
If I were in charge of making the roster, I'd get rid of Dwight, Kidd and Boozer and replace them with Kyle Korver, Raja Bell and Jason Kapono.
That would be a team ready for the international game. Imagine the wide-open looks the shooters (six now, instead of three) would consistently get from Deron, Paul, Kidd, LeBron, etc. And once these zone-busters started raining 3-pointers, opposing defenses wouldn't be able to play zone and clog the lane. LeBron, Wade, Paul, etc. would have a clear path to the hoop.
As it stands, Redd and Kobe are the only real threats to hit from deep at the shooting guard position. Deron can bomb it, but more often than not he's running the offense. And lately Kobe has been jacking terrible 25-footers instead of taking shots within the offense, so that means Redd is the only threat, which means defenses can key in on him, limiting his effectiveness.
So we'll have to see how our guys do in Beijing. The squad squeaked past a Bogut-less Australia this morning, 87-76. Why was it so close? Because Team USA went 3-for-18 from the 3-point line. Live by the three, die by the three. That's the international game. Australia packed the lane with a zone defense that the US couldn't break, as drives by Wade, LeBron, etc. led to turnover after turnover. It was a perfect blueprint on how to slow down the Americans.
You think other nations were paying attention?
1 year ago