ESPN.com 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)
Young Shaq as the token collegian