June 24, 2008

The Dream Team III?

by Dan Bilicki In: Basketball

It’s easy to label any team that the U.S. throws together in basketball nowadays a “Dream Team.” After all, most of the world’s best players were cultivated on American soil with the exceptions of some great Euros, Argentines and even a Canadian. But when you have LeBron James and Kobe Bryant — the two heirs apparent to the NBA’s crown of best player — on the same roster, it’s tough not to think grand thoughts.

My first concern when looking at the new Dream Team’s roster is their lack of size (ESPN.com’s Chris Sheridan shared my view) which is best demonstrated by the fact there is only one true centre on the team. Chris Bosh can play the 5 and Boozer can bang down low, but Dwight Howard is alone on the depth chart. Given that the Olympic/International style of play is more based around shooting, it may not matter but why not have another guy like Tyson Chandler or maybe Marcus Camby?

This team is also heavy on guards, especially guys who run the point. Jason Kidd should not have been named to the team with the presence of the country’s two PGs of the future, Chris Paul and Deron Williams. When you throw in that Dwayne Wade can also play some time at the 1, Kidd makes no sense here. Tayshaun Prince is also a questionable inclusion as his defence — probably the main reason he was named — has been slipping. He should be towards the end of the bench with Kidd. Michael Redd also brings up and argument but his dead-eye shooting ability is good enough to get a few minutes when a big three might be needed.

But then again, look at what happened in Athens for the most recent Olympics. The U.S. team that featured James, Bryant Carmelo Anthony and Tim Duncan — who wasn’t even born in America — only earned a bronze medal and lost to both Puerto Rico and Lithuania. Sure that team was hastily assembled but Lithuania? Really?

If the U.S. goes on to roll through the Olympics it should bring to light something that seriously needs to happen: The banning of professional players from the Games. How much funner would it be to see guys from the NCAA and lesser Euro leagues competing in the Summer Olympics, a venue that is supposed to be for amateur athletes. I don’t want to see the Dream Team run up the score on a weak Chinese squad. I’d like to see the top two picks of the draft, Derrick Rose and Michael Beasley, on opposite ends of an alley-oop.

So let’s see how this Olympics goes and then give NBA players the summer off, they deserve it and we deserve a more pure Olympics.

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