For all the hype surrounding the ‘Redeem Team’ of the 2008 Olympics, this 2010 World Championship version won’t be anywhere near the same ballpark of the its star-studded predecessor. It’s just as exciting, but it also has the potential to FAIL at the final hurdle.
In the past, I’ve shrieked at some of the names included on the roster mainly because I didn’t feel their games were suited to the international stage. I also didn’t rate those players a whole lot. Poor examples include Allen Iverson (most of you must know by now I clearly am not a fan of), Richard Jefferson, Stephon Marbury, Baron Davis, Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Vin Baker, Shawn Marion, Emeka Okafor and the list goes on and on.
Unfortunately, FIBA basketball is a laughing stock compared to FIFA when it gets its footballing countries involved. Unless it’s the NBA, most of us tune out. We’d love to get passionate and completely behind our Aussie Boomers, but we just don’t have enough talent to match it with the big guns of the US, Spain and Argentina (when it decides to play its stars), and we just don’t have excitement machines like a Ricky Rubio to spark the Aussie public’s interest or even NBA scouts. Andrew Bogut is our best player, but he’s injured and I think his time at international level is coming to a close. I adore Patty Mills, and major kudos go out to him and Nathan Jawai who’ll tussle for NBA minutes this season coming, but who are they to the average Australian sports fan?
Sadly, the entire Redeem Team of ‘08 are all on summer sabbaticals. Yes, that means no Kobe, LeBron, D-Wade, CP3, Bosh, Boozer and company. That’s a given particularly when some are still partying in South Beach or nursing niggling injuries ahead of the NBA pre-season. And also no Amar’e, who’ll sit this tourney out to keep the Knicks’ suits in check. I’m even upset Brook Lopez didn’t make the cut coz of illness.
It’s a tough gig being a pro and even tougher if you’re an NBA front officeman or in this case, USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo. Questions abound, if you’re an owner or GM, do you let your franchise star risk injury playing at high level when they’re on your books for the next five years? Or, if you’re a Colangelo, do you select players who fulfil the US’ needs (perimeter shooting, defense etc) knowing they are locked into their clubs? If not, do you select the next best player on need or sheer NBA talent? Does age matter? Somebody tickle my balls, I’m shrieking again.
The current pool as it was announced looks like this, Kevin Durant (Thunder), Chauncey Billups (Nuggets), Lamar Odom (Lakers), Russell Westbrook (Thunder), Rajon Rondo (Celtics), Derrick Rose (Bulls), Andre Iguodala (76ers), Jeff Green (Thunder), Kevin Love (T-Wolves), Rudy Gay (Grizzlies), Danny Granger (Pacers), Stephen Curry (Warriors), Eric Gordon (Clippers), Tyson Chandler (Mavericks) and JaVale McGee (Wizards). Three more will be cut.
Honestly, I don’t agree with half the team listed, not to mention this crop screams of 2004 when the US finished a miserable 6th at the Indianapolis World Championships. They’re incredibly thin up front and other than Durant, Billups and Curry, not a whole lot of pure shooters. Sure, they’ve got scorers who’ll light up the stat sheets. But don’t sell streaky, high-volume shooters coz that won’t fly with me, especially once those boys hit an iceberg.
Playing ‘FIBA Basketball’ should not be taken for granted and as Manu Ginobili said at those ‘04 Olympics, “The US had the best players ever (in 1992). Here they are great players, too, but they are young and they never played internationally, so with different rules it’s a whole different thing…the rest of the world is getting better and the States isn’t bringing their best players.”
The US may win in Turkey this September, emphatically, or stumble across the line. Given the talent, they are rightly the favorites heading in, but I won’t be holding my breath. I expect the opposition to stay close to them, and I know for a fact they won’t be beating teams by an average of 32.2 points a game like the ’08 team did. I won’t be surprised if they lose a game or two, even if it’s in a medal-winning position. Quietly, I hope the Boomers knock them over…
Historically, I’ve never been sold on athletic studs that stand out on their respective NBA teams, not to mention most of them are in the early stages of their career. FIBA games call for more experienced ballers who have the brains and perimeter game to make the collapsing defenses burn.
So based on the US’s preferences for players with the ability to press full court defensively and consistently knock the perimeter shots down, here’s two lists of players I feel would fit the Americans needs- one containing the best NBA stars with ‘Dream Team’ credentials (which generally wets my pants using when I play NBA 2K) that will never happen, but surely would walk to the gold, and a more realistic team that features the best young players with a cut-off age of 24, most of whom that are not yet primetime focuses on contending teams, except for maybe that Bull guy and Thunder duo. It is a confusing criteria, but one that I’m prepared to argue all day long.
So Ladies and Gents, feel free to throw up your best teams if you feel mine are inadequate…
J.O’s 2010 24 and Under Team
Summary: Rose and Westbrook provide speed, back court defense and floor leadership. Curry and Redick would ideally spread the floor with Mayo being able combo all of this on a platter.
Summary: Durant is the quintessential star for the youth and the seasonal superstars. He is the closer and team leader. Webster and Morrow could do serious damage beyond the arc and on the wings, but would need to step up the D. Griffin provides the grunt, while Anderson provides the consummate all-round team facilitator, shooter and polish.
Summary: Hibbert is a beast waiting to explode- on the glass, in the post and could alter many shots. He beats out Bynum and the Lopez’s purely on health issues. Love will intimidate on D, rebound like a gorilla being tasered, and show off that midrange shot he will eventually develop as the years go by.
J.O’s 2010 Inception-based Dream Team
Summary: The names say it all with lots of hardware in between. A disgustingly, delicious line-up boasting of enormous firepower and experience.
Summary: What the previous summary said but with more length, ego and nut-sack.
Summary: A well-developed brute with a methodical warrior to back him up. The two best traditional big men America has to offer in the game today.