About Team USA Olympic Trials in Las Vegas
Andrew and I are out in Vegas to cover the Olympic Trials. You should probably know a thing or two about the roster, which includes five players with ties to the Hornets.
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First off let’s get a few things clear about what’s going on out here:
- The Olympic Team will take 12 active players to London for the 2012 Olympic Games.
- There are currently 15 players competing for those spots.
- 9 players are considered locks.
- 3 spots are likely up for grabs to Davis, Gordon, Harden, Iguodala, Gay, and Griffin.
- The Select team is made up of 13 players who will compete against the Olympic Finalists and eventually– starting on the 8th– The 2012 Men’s National Team.
- The Select team is not the same thing as being a finalist for the Olympic team. Lance Thomas, for example, is a part of the Select Team, but has zero chance of making the Olympic roster. Others include DeMarcus Cousins, John Wall and Kyrie Irving
- The 12 man National Team will be selected tomorrow at 4:00 CDT.
I’ll run through the roster so we can all get a feel for what the team will look like, even though you’re probably familiar with most of them. First, though, let’s hear from Mike Krzyzewski, the head coach, about choosing players:
“We would have already made the decision [on who to choose] if it wasn’t for the injuries and the length of the NBA season. We have a pretty good idea of who will be on the team, but the last one or two spots, you’re not sure of, so you want to see the guys physically and talk to them.”
“They’re not trying out; all of them are good enough to be on the team. It’s where are they at right now, and how do they complement the nine or 10 guys that you already pretty much know are already on the team?”
Men’s National Team Finalists
Carmelo Anthony: The forward is considered a lock to join the team.
Kobe Bryant: There were fans lined up at 10:00 AM outside of the gym an hour before practice started hoping to catch a glimpse of the legendary guard. He’s a lock to make the squad.
Tyson Chandler: With injuries to Chris Bosh, Lamar Odom, and Dwight Howard, Tyson is now considered a sure-fire Olympian. He’s one of five former or current Hornets (counting Kobe) who is a finalist this year.
Anthony Davis: Even after the ankle injury, Davis has a solid chance to make the squad. He’d likely play the role that Christian Laettner filled for the original dream team– running the occasional errand for the vets (There’s a story of the team sending Laettner to the store to get playing cards), being on the receiving end of jokes from the veterans, playing spot minutes, and learning everything possible from some of the greatest players on earth. Everyone is expecting Davis to be an Olympian for years to come, and it’s clearly advantageous for him to get the experience now, instead of when the team is truly counting on him to perform. If the ankle isn’t bad– and reports are now saying it’s not– I think he has a solid chance.
Kevin Durant: He would probably make the team even if all he had was the zone-breaking shooting ability. Add in that he’s physically unguardable for 99% of players that he’ll run into internationally, and it’s clear he’ll have a spot. Oh, he’s being referred to as “Golden Boy”.
Rudy Gay: Frankly, I don’t see the point of having Gay on the team. There’s really nothing that he does that others can’t do. Still, word on the street is that he’s likely to get a spot. He’s a solid slasher who can create his own shot and play defense. Gay is clearly a nice guy to have on your team, but I guess I just don’t see a ton of reason for a squad with so many wings to take Gay when they seem more in need of a big man.
Eric Gordon: Obviously I like Gordon’s game, but he’s known for getting hurt, barely played last season, and only has a bit of experience on the 2010 team. He’ll be battling for the final spot on the team against Gay and Harden. Because of his injury concern and the reality that he just hasn’t played much lately, I don’t think he makes it. Sorry,
Suns Hornets fans. Hopefully I’m wrong.
Blake Griffin: Need another reason to hate Blake? He’s the guy battling Davis for a spot on the team. Frankly he can’t hit a jumper and has next to no experience with the international game. Still, he probably has the advantage over Davis just because he’s a more developed player. I’ll say “bah humbug” if he makes it and Davis doesn’t. It will truly be a waste of a spot, since Davis has the brighter future and has more to gain as a player by being around the likes of Kobe, Lebron, and Paul, than Griffin does.
James Harden: Sixth man of the year who can hit the open shot? Yes, please. I don’t think they’ll hold his subpar finals against him, but it’s not out of the question. The positive of playing so recently is that he’s probably still in game-shape. I think he’ll battle with Iguodala for a spot. I’d say the odds are against him.
Andre Iguodala: Speaking of the man… Iggy is a shut-down defender with a good bit of international experience. I expect he’ll come off the bench to relieve Kobe. While I won’t call him a lock, he’s the closest one to being assured a spot in my opinion.
LeBron: I won’t waste too much time here– He’s the best player in the world, so he makes it.
Kevin Love: When you have the option to take a big man who can shoot from the outside, mess up zones, and rebound with anyone in the world, you do it. Love will be on the team.
Chris Paul: Yup.
Russell Westbrook: Although I think taking three point guards is a bit redundant, especially when you have LeBron capable of playing the same position, Westbrook will make the team.
Deron Williams: Williams played well in the 2008 Olympics, and there’s no reason to think he won’t make the cut this time as well. He’s a lock in my book.
So there you have it: 15 players, 12 spots, 9 locks.
3 point guards (all locks)
4 shooting guards (1 lock, 3 bubble)
4 small forwards (3 locks, 1 bubble)
3 power forwards (1 lock, 2 bubbles)
1 center (lock)
The DeSelect Team is made up of DeJuan Blair, DeMarcus Cousins, DeMar DeRozen, Derrick Favors (see why I said the “de” select team???), Paul George, Taj Gibson, Gordon Hayward, Jrue Holliday, Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard, Lance Thomas, Klay Thompson and John Wall.
If you’re wondering why Thomas is on the team, it has to do with the Pan Am Games. The US Men’s Team captured a bronze medal. This triggered an agreement to take two players from the bronze-winning team to be on the Select Team. Thomas was chosen to fill one of these slots from that small population.
We’ll have some updates later in the day, but be sure to follow us here and follow the team in London. It’s a matter of national and Hornets pride, plus it’s the first glimpse of how Davis will perform with NOLA slapped across his chest while doing some justice for the USA.
Eric Gordon said that if we match he'll play but he won't be happy. That still doesn't mean we won't match. But we have to trade him now don't we?
Guys, please prevent Gordon from going overseas!! He might decide London is the right place for him and his Hoosier-heart.
However this pans out, this will be a great experience for Davis. I hope he makes the team. Team USA is a much better training ground than summer league. Go Davis! Geaux Hornets!
They say that in the international game, big men need to have a jump shot. Griffin can dunk and that's about it. Davis is a prototypical international big man. I know it's a long shot, but I really hope Davis and Gordon make it and Griffin doesn't. That way they can try to urge him to come to NO without there being an LA Clipper to counter. #wecanhope.
Not to spoil the thought of Paul back in Creole Blue (or whatever color Benson decides) but I say there's little to no chance we have him back. In one season, we'll still be rebuilding whereas Paul has continued to recruit FA and build a team suited around his skills. We can see Del Negro as a liability but with Billups and Paul doing everything short of deciding the starting lineup, I think he's in L.A. for the next mega contract even if it means 4/5 straight years of losing in the 2nd round of the playoffs. Not to mention if we think Gordon (whose ego seems incredibly fragile to begin with) is going to play 3rd banana to Paul and Davis, you're mistaken. I'm more worried about him poisoning the well with he and Paul telling Davis the nightmares of the Shinn tenure.