Three in the Key: Dreamin’ in 2012
The London Olympics are right around the corner, meaning it’s once again time for the United States of America to trot out their NBA superstars in an effort to bully opposing nations into hardcourt submission. In the coming weeks, the perennial Who’s Who of the National Basketball Association join forces – Avengers style – to form the latest version of the famed Dream Team.
Seasoned veterans like Kobe Bryant, Dwayne Wade, LeBron James and Chris Paul will be at the heart of the Team USA that looks to capture gold on the twentieth anniversary of the original Dream Team.
Yet, the discussion arose during the past week that rather than being able to select from the entire talent pool, the United States Olympic Committee should take a leaf of out Soccer’s book and limit their selections to players under the age of 23.
It’s an interesting proposition by the USOC, and one that creates pro’s and con’s on both sides of the argument. On the one hand, the global exposure and big-stage experience that would be given to the younger generation of budding NBA stars would be invaluable. Putting the next crop of NBA talent on display in the Olympic shop-front is worth millions of dollars to US Basketball, both in the States and the rest of the basketballing world.
They’d be pretty handy on the floor as well. If such a team was to be assembled for 2012, it’d probably look something like this:
PG – Kyrie Irving
SG – Russell Westbrook
SF – Kevin Durant
PF – Kevin Love
C – DeMarcus Cousins
Bench – Blake Griffin, John Wall, Eric Gordon, James Harden, Greg Monroe, Anthony Davis, Brandon Jennings and Kawhi Leonard.
Keep in mind that Derrick Rose would be an immediate choice, but injury means he has to watch from the stands.
On paper, that’s an incredibly talented team, that in reality should be able to run rings around any opposition they would face. However, it’s worth remembering that the last time the USOC limited their selection pool was in 1988, when a team composed entirely of college stars staggered to a disappointing third place. The Dream Team was forged as a result.
The rest of the world is beginning to catch up to the United States on the court, with Spain, France and even Argentina presenting legitimate threats to the US’s gold medal quest. It hardly seems like the time to be weakening the squad, and if so, the Dream Team could become an embarrassing nightmare for Team USA.
Questions in the clutch:
On two separate occasions in Sunday’s Game four battle, the Miami Heat had the chance to draw up a play to beat the Celtics, and push them to the brink of elimination. In both instances the Heat fumbled their way through seemingly confused offensive sets, before having to settle for jump shots coming as the result of broken plays and isolations.
But, such a situation shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. It’s baffling to sit back and watch the closing stages of an NBA contest when the game is on the line, and see the play degenerate into little more than “schoolyard ball.” As exciting as it may be, the majority of potential walk-off scenarios follow the same pattern. Get the ball to your superstar or most prolific scorer, then proceed to kindly get out of the way while he does his thing. In some instances, the other four teammates on the floor may as well grab a bag of popcorn and enjoy the show. “Hero ball” takes over.
It’s inexplicable that when teams have not only a collection of some of the very best talent in the world, but also a squadron of brilliant coaching minds, the best option they can create is a contested jump shot. The next time an NBA game comes down to one final possession, here’s hoping that the team in control carefully crafts an opportunity to create an easy bucket, much like they would for the other 47 odd minutes of the game. But, if the playoffs so far are anything to go by, you probably shouldn’t hold your breath.
Bracing for a chaotic off-season:
The NBA Finals are yet to be set, but already the player movement merry-go-round is reaching dizzying levels.
Brooklyn’s prized point guard Deron Williams is potentially on his way out the Barclays Arena before the newly built arena’s ribbon could even be cut. The Dwight Howard drama has been picked up for a second season in Orlando, but recent reports indicate that it is all but certain that “Superman” will be moved on as early as the NBA Draft. Plus, with players like Jeremy Lin, Steve Nash, Eric Gordon, Gerald Wallace, Nic Batum, Kevin Garnett, Michael Beasley and a raft of other top-level talents’ potentially on the move, don’t expect the action to stop once a champion is crowned in June.