USA Basketball announced their 30 finalists for the upcoming 2016 Olympic games in Rio. Out of these 30 terrific players, only 12 can be selected. Below are my picks for the team with some explanation of my thought process.
Team USA 2016 Rio Games
In no particular order.
Melo, Bron, CP3 – These 3 simply have a spot until they say they don’t want to play anymore. They were at the center of the resurgence of USA Basketball and the clear leaders of the program. These 3 demonstrated the values that are so important for USA Basketball going forward and made it cool and a desire to play for Team USA again.
KD, Steph, AD, Kyrie – This is the future core of Team USA for 2020 and 2024 (AD,Kyrie). AD rightfully earned his spot in the last Olympic games before he was in the NBA. Kyrie was the MVP of the last World Games. Also bluntly, there is no way he doesn’t make a team led by Coach K. KD has been a staple of USA basketball and is also a former World Games MVP. Steph is the reigning MVP (possibly back to back) and can play off the ball spotting up from half court.
Should Be Safe
Harden, Blake, Russ – Injuries have prevented Blake from being a part of Team USA on multiple occasions. This should again be his only road block to the team as he would be an integral part in 2020. Russ is arguably the top lead guard in the league and can also play a role similar to Dwayne Wades memorable performance in the 2008 Olympics (video below just in case you forgot). Harden is someone that can’t be left off the team because of his dominance of the league in previous years and willingness to commit to the USA Basketball program fully.
Kawhi Leonard – I am personally a huge fan of Kawhi but let’s get to the facts. Gregg Popovic will be taking over next year and will not be doing so without the future of his franchise and the best two way player in the game. Leonard’s involvement with this years team will allow him to learn up close from guys like Melo, Bron and CP while developing a feel for the international game. I don’t believe he will get a lot of run but his role will be huge going forward in the program and will need to take on a leadership role for the new class of young players with no international experience.
Klay Thompson – Literally my last pick on the team. I struggled between him and a couple of other guys who I thought would have a chance. I picked Klay because of his youth, his shooting ability and ability to guard 1-4 internationally. Coach K has always tried to keep a designated shooter on his teams and Klay checks that box while bringing other skills.
These two define the true meaning of program. The best collection of talent doesn’t need to be assembled. The best 12 for the program today and going forward need to be selected.
Kevin Love, Paul George , DeMarcus Cousins – For the record I have Boogie Cousins as my 12B. He would benefit the most from being around the professionalism of this group, especially with keeping him bought in for the future. It will be close between him and Klay based on what they want to do with the roster. I just believe Blake, Kd, Bron, AD, Melo can realistically play big internationally. I do feel DeMarcus may be the pick just because he will be the only guy of his type on the roster and will be desperately needed going forward.
The emotional card comes into play with Paul George making his comeback but ultimately I feel there is no room for him on the team. Kevin Love has history with Team USA but will be left off as well.
What do you think? Who is your 12?