Eight-second count: crossing halfcourt with Team USA's pursuit of gold...1) Team USA's leading scorer will be...:Yeah, have you seen the proximity of international basketballs 3-point line compared to its NBA brethren and the way Kevin Durant shoots from distance? Factor in Durants the best and one of the few true distance shooters on Team USA - and that LeBron James can let his inner facilitator freak fly with the varied offensive options on this squad and the Thunders stunner lights up the London scoreboard brightest. (For the record, after Durant on the scoring list comes LeBron with Kobe Bryant third. James Harden's beard edges out Anthony Davis' unibrow in a hair-owing close race for 12th.2)Justify My Love (as sung to Deron Williams by Brooklyn Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov):Williams received plenty of attention - and eventually money during his free agent courtship that ultimately ended with him sticking it to, oops, sorry, I mean with the Nets. Recently I heard famed NBA writer Bob Ryan declare Williams overrated, at least from a max-contract, best player on a title team standpoint.I rather agree with the retiring scribe and while the Olympics have little to nothing to do with future NBA success,Im intrigued to see how Williams produces in London. Granted, the Nets paying big bucks for Williams (and trading for the trulyoverpriced Joe Johnson)has as much (or more) to do with selling tickets and establishing an identity in a new city. Still, I'm wondering if thepoint guard can surpass the position standard-bearer Chris Paul, which Williams has arguably done during the tune-up tour, or does the physically freaky Russell Westbrook speed past him on the playmaker hierarchy. In terms of the latter thought, Prokhorov and his tiny giraffe (or so I imagine) better hope not.3) Meet Mr.Indispensible When Tyson Chandler, the only true center on the roster, sits with foul trouble or simply for a breather, folks notice. By folks, in this case I mostly mean the players and coaches on Spain, a squad led by NBA bigs Serge Ibaka and the Gasol brothers, Pau and Marc. Even on a team loaded with scoring stars and high flyers, Chandlers rebounding and defensive presence is obvious and missed when absent. The U.S. can win and survive without Chandler on the court, but it would sure be a lot easier with him.4) Ghosts of Wizards draft picks past Spain wont have the stylish passing of injured guard Ricky Rubio leading its offensive attack. Thats a lament Wizards fans have made ever since the team traded the fifth overall pick in the 2009 draft to Minnesota, a pick that turned into Rubio while the Wizards end of the deal turned into mush (I know if the Wizards take Rubio they likely never get John Wall. Still). Helping to pick up the slack in Rubios absence, veteran Juan Carlos Navarro, the Wizards second-round pick in 2002 and a key cog in Spains attempt to survive the never-ending wave of lengthy U.S. perimeter defenders. After shipping Navarros rights to the Grizzlies for a future first round pick, Washington returned the unused selection to Memphis in a deal that brought future guns-in-the-locker room participant Javaris Crittenden (and Mike James) to town. So, theres that.Then there is the aforementioned Pau Gasol, the third overall pick in the 2001 NBA Draft or the guy picked two slots after Michael Jordan decided Kwame Brown was No. 1 overall worthy (of course the man selected between the two, Chandler). This is old news and hopefully everyone tormented by said decison has moved, but...Yeah, kind of hard watching Spain if youre a Wizards fan. Since there are noWizardson Team USA, maybe D.C.s own Durant can make amends for the moves gone awry with a gold medal winning beat down. Meh, whatever. Oh, wait, Nene and Brazil face Spain in group play. Nene's already cleaning up the Wizards present. Might as well take care of the past as well.Part 2: Passing theAlpha Maletorch and who takes gold.Ben Standig blogs about the Redskins, Wizards, Hoyas and the D.C.area college basketball scene for CSNwashington. You can reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow him on Twitter @BenStandig, catch his musings at the D.C. Sportalistand his fantasy football thoughts on the FFToolbox podcast.
Crossing halfcourt with Team USA Pt. 1
July 25, 2012, 11:05 pm