Monday, July 27, 2009

We're number two!... Or are we? had a poll today on what medal to expect for USA Basketball at the World Championships. Gold was the overwhelming (over 90%) choice by both domestic and international voters. I think reasonable observers would agree the US is still at a stage where we should win the title at any event where we have our first choice team on the floor, though internationals have progressed to the point that, given the single elimination format, it is no longer a shock when we don't.

However, after reading about and watching video of the USA Basketball Showcase, I started wondering about our next team. At the height of the Soviet hockey dynasty, it was said that if they were allowed to enter three teams, they would win three medals. In 1992, a second USA Basketball entry* would have been overwhelming favorites for silver.

However, other nations have made incredible strides since then. Given that, what would be realistic expectations for a second USA Basketball entry in the 2010 World Championships?

The second US team must be made up of player interested and passed over for the first unit. You can't pick Tim Duncan, and the "Gold" team would still get their full roster - you can't split them up and try to produce two equivalent teams. By realistic expectations, I mean if the second Team USA played every other nation 10 times with no injuries and no "learning", against how many nations should Team 2 win six or more games? If you think they would be the second best team in the field, how certain would you be of their silver medal?

*1992 Silver Team (USA Basketball squads were built like All Star teams in those days)
PG- Isiah Thomas
SG- Jeff Hornacek
SF- Dominique Wilkins
PF- Larry Nance
C- Brad Daugherty (a phenomenal fit for the international game)

Kevin Johnson
Dan Majerle
Joe Dumars
James Worthy
Dennis Rodman
Shawn Kemp
Young Shaq as the token collegian


julien said...

Third behind the first team and spain

Shakers Jacobson said...

PG Rondo, Rose, Westbrook
SG Durant, Roy, Joe Johnson
SF Gay, Iguodala
PF Millsap, J.Smith
C Lopez, Oden

A team like this would be pretty tough if you gave them a chance to play together for a little while. I'm sure I'm forgetting someone important, too.

Dharma Bum said...

I may be a Homer but I'd go Love over Josh Smith in international ball. he can rebound and stretch the floor. Let's not talk about defense.

Chan Calzada said...

3rd or 4th

Starting 5:
F - Durant
F - J. Smith
C - Bynum
G - Roy
G - Rose
F - Griffin
F - Gay
F - Love
C - Lopez
G - Nelson
G - J. Johnson
G - Granger

The DL said...

I don't feel like any team beyond Spain, Argentina and Greece (maybe Lithuania) have a real chance of beating the USA second team even 2 out of 10 times. I'd put them as odds on favorites to win the silver but wouldn't be surprised to see them finish 3rd (really don't see them losing the bronze game), put it at about 50/50.

Zack Morris said...

I agree with DL. I think a US second team would be the favorite for the silver, but very much in the mix with Spain, Argentina and Greece.

I think the teams suggested so far are wrong however, because some of the players listed will almost certainly be on the senior national team next summer.

Colangelo has already said that Kobe, Lebron, Wade, Carmelo, Paul, Derron Williams, Howard and Bosh will be on the team next summer provided they continue to want to play. Durant is likely a lock as well. I will tentatively fill the roster with Rose, Boozer, and Redd (I think the odds of Boozer being back are high, Redd is a possibility, Kidd a long shot, Prince has no chance of being back on the Senior National team).

For my team I will pick only from guys already in the USA basketball pool who did not withdraw from consideration for the Olympic team, with one exception. I think if given the opportunity Gilbert Arenas would jump at the chance to play for the second team. In fact I think nothing in the world would make him happier. So I feel ok putting Gilbert on the team even though he technically withdrew.

(PG) Arenas, Westbrook
(SG) Johnson, Roy, Mayo
(SF) Gay, Jamison, Green
(PF) Love, Milsap
(C) Lopez, Oden

Not bad. The front court is definitely weaker than the back court. Not sure what the status of Kevin Martin, Al Jefferson and Danny Granger in the USA basketball program are, but they would certainly merit consideration as well.

Grumbler said...

You guys obviously haven't watched a lot of international basketball. There is no way the second teams mentioned here would even win a medal. They absolutely could not beat the savvy and versatile veteran teams (Argentina, Spain, etc.) they would be facing in the medal rounds. They would lose at least 8 out of 10 times.

Justin said...

A. Who's the coach?

B. Now or 2010? A few guys I would choose may be too old next year, if you can believe that. Billups, Pierce, Garnett, Hamilton, Carter.

PG Rondo, Rose
SG Roy, JJ, Ariza
SF Durant, Gay, Iguodala
PF Aldridge, Griffin
C Jefferson, Lopez

chg said...

My coach would definitely be Rick Adelman. I love Coach K, but I believe Adelman gives this squad an advantage at one important spot.

PG: Rajon Rondo, Devin Harris
SG: Brandon Roy, Ronnie Brewer, Kyle Korver
SF: Rudy Gay, Danny Granger
PF: David Lee, Josh Smith, Kevin Love
C: Al Jefferson, Brook Lopez

Durant is almost a lock for 2010, and it seems like Rose is going to replace Kidd as the third PG, so there go a couple of preferred cornerstones.

Trying to find an American center reminds you once again that the Center POSITION IS DYING!!!(/sportswriter)

It's tough to find men big and athletic enough to play the pivot in the modern NBA, but 20 years from now, there will still be a handful of All Star or borderline All Star Centers, and there will be plenty of writers and analysts proclaiming that there is no one one on the horizon to replace them.

I think this would be the second most talented team at the 2010 World Championships, but I have a feeling they wouldn't make the title game.

When I was around 16 or 17, I played a lot of basketball with my friend Brian. Neither of us looked very intimidating. I was 6'0', 140 pounds, and he was 5'10" and slightly more muscled from an abortive venture into HS football. Typically, people played me as a soft "get out on him!" shooter, and Brian as an undersized banger. The conventional wisdom scouting report was completely wrong. I hated shooting, but loved playing defense, boxed out hard, and would drive with abandon, while Brian was the shooter.

We would play almost anyone 2 on 2, and we frequently beat duos with much more ability and skill. He was the best basketball teammate I ever had, and it was incredibly fun to watch guys bigger and faster yelling at each other while trying to play these two little white guys.

Chemistry matters more in basketball than the other two major American team sports. You need to be able to anticipate your teammates' moves, where they want the ball, how they best deal with a pick-and-roll, and a thousand other things.

We learned in the 2006 World Championships that NBA players cannot establish that chemistry overnight, any more than pickup players can. One of the veteran international squads would probably catch this team at the right time and pull off an upset, either knocking them out in the elimination rounds, or forcing them lower in the seeding to play the one team that could beat them on pure talent - the other USA team.

However, with a full cycle of playing together, and a couple more years of mileage on the Argentine and Spanish Golden Generation, I would make them a heavy favorite for 2012 Silver in London.