USA Olympic basketball team

This list covers the top ten players of Team USA for the 2012 London Olympics.

The team has lost Miami champions Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade during the last fortnight to injury, but is significantly stronger than the 2008 squad.

The USA is in Pool A along with France, Tunisia, Argentina and two qualifying teams from the tournament in Venezuela beginning on July 2.  Their first pool game is against France on July 29.

1 to 3. The Starting Bigs

Dwight Howard, Kevin Durant and Lebron James will fill the starting spots at centre and forward.  Durant might be undersized for an NBA power forward but is sizeable enough to hold down an international PF spot and will cause mismatches against less athletic bigs.  He’ll get help on the boards too from James and the guards and, regardless, a quick USA team will be deadly on the break in the open floor.  Howard is also a perfect fit at centre, being a great defender and rebounder in a team with plenty of scorers.

4 to 9. The Guard Rotation

The US has a plethory of guards who will share court time throughout the Pool games while Mike Krzyzewski determines the best fit.  My guess for starters is Kobe Bryant and Chris Paul.  With Derrick Rose and Deron Williams also in the squad, Russell Westbrook will spend some time at SG if the US goes with a short (and lightening fast!) lineup, alongside Andre Iguedala.

10. Lamar Odom

Odom is nicely suited to the international game, as his minutes in past competitions have shown.  Like Durant, he’s undersized at PF in the NBA against stronger bodies but is perfectly sized to go against smaller international forwards, with his athleticism surprisingly good for his size.   The shorter three point line compared to the NBA will also help him draw big men away from the post, improving the team’s spacing which will help Howard and James down low.  Interesting to see how many minutes and shots he gets – the first few games will be crucial in deciding whether he can hold down a role.  If he defends and rebounds well he might take minutes from Anthony, whose offense-only style won’t be as sought after by team USA as it is by the Knicks.