Okay, so I just woke up from my postgame nap after getting up at 6:30 this morning to watch TJ Oshie and USA hockey vanquish the Russkies on their home ice, and I’ve decided to get back in the saddle and end my blog’s ridiculous drought of posts. I’m overflowing with patriotism and after watching the NBA’s Rising Stars challenge last night and the rest of NBA All Star Weekend looming, I’m in the perfect mood to write a blog I’ve had on my mind for about a week now.
I was watching Olympics last weekend and I noticed that Norway was stocking up on medals in nordic skiing and gaining the lead in the medal count, and I thought, it’s such bullshit that a country being the best at a stupid fringe sport like cross country skiing gets to rack up tons of medals because of the multiple events in the same sport and multiple entrants in each event for the same country. I think we can all agree that it’s silly that a team sport competition like basketball (or hockey, if we want to be topical) takes about two weeks to determine a winner, and then that gold medal counts as one medal in the count. Lame. Unfair. Team sports absolutely should be worth more, but also there should be more events for basketball, which I guess 3 on 3 is on its way, but 1 on 1 should absolutely be an event, and you could even throw in 3 point shooting and dunk contest. If they can judge triple axels they can judge 360 windmills. Now, on top of adding these extra events, why should the US be limited to one team in basketball? We’re so much better than everybody else, why should we be forced to settle for one gold when we could easily sweep the podium and shut out the Spaniards, Argentinians and Frenchies. So here is my triple Dream Team, if you will, or as I called it in the title: The 3 Headed Monster of USA Basketball.
I should mention that in choosing these teams, I tried to keep the squads young, much like actual Team USA, but I kept the vets that have been playing lately. The other big thing is I assumed everyone is healthy. Obviously Rose, Kobe, Westbrook, etc. are battling injuries right now, but the hope would be that in 2016 they would all be 100% and good to go. This is a fantasy, after all, so I can make that rule. Okay, now, here are the teams.
|Team Red||Team White||Team Blue|
|G||J. Wall||Rondo||K. Irving|
|G||B. Beal||Korver||K. Thompson|
|G/F||L. Stephenson||Iguodala||Jimmy Buckets|
|F||G. Monroe||K. Leonard||Bosh|
|F/C||A. Drummond||D. Jordan||B. Lopez|
Tell me, how is Spain beating any of those teams? I know they would stack their roster while we’re taking the risk of wearing a bit thin, but the beauty of these rosters is that they’re structured with more natural pecking orders of who’s getting the ball in late game situations and I’ve even sprinkled in some specialists. Let’s analyze these teams a bit more.
Probably the most stacked starting lineup, thus, they have a less experienced bench. Even though LeBron is obviously the centerpiece of this team, I don’t think there’s any question that Chris Paul would assume the leadership role. Funny thing about this team is that we don’t have a true power forward in the starting lineup, but both Melo and LeBron are big small forwards, and LeBron can guard all five positions so this doesn’t concern me in the least. Here are a couple lineups I foresee:
Crunch Time: Howard, LeBron, Melo, Harden, Paul (with Stephenson/Harden exchanging defense for offense in certain situations)
Small Ball Sharpshooting: Aldridge, Melo, Parsons, Beal, Paul
Lockdown D/Full Court Press: Howard, LeBron, Stephenson, Wall, Paul
Big Lineup: Howard, Aldridge, LeBron/Melo, Harden, Wall
One thing about this lineup is it is lacking in shooters maybe just a tad, but Melo tends to be very efficient in international play, and LeBron James really covers up so many of a team’s deficiencies that I tend to not worry about much with him involved in any lineup. With this starting lineup, this team probably looks like the A Team, so I’ve given Coach K the reigns after his years of service to USA Basketball, even if he is the evil face of Dook basketball.
We’re getting the old dynamic duo of Phil and Kobe back together! If they can get 5 Larry O’Brien trophies why can’t they get one gold medal, right? Here are some lineups I like:
Crunch Time: Starters. Korver for George for free throws if we’re protecting a slim lead with the ball. Rondo for Westbrook potentially if Russell is being difficult.
Small Ball/Sharpshooting: Love, Leonard, Korver, Kobe, Lillard
Lockdown D/Full Court Press: Hibbert/Jordan, Griffin, 2 of Leonard/George/Iguodala for the 2 and 3 spots, Westbrook (Jordan for pressing, Hibbert ideal for halfcourt)
I could see Kobe and Westbrook clashing a bit at times since they both need the ball so much, but that’s why we have Rondo as a trustworthy caretaker of the offense if we have to give Russell the hook. I think Phil is far more capable of handling Westbrook’s dynamic personality than Scott Brooks anyhow, so I don’t worry too much.
My dark horse squad, the blue team. Can’t go wrong with the Slim Reaper as your go-to guy with the year he’s currently having. And D Wade is coming off the bench a la his magnificent Redeem Team performance. Let’s look at some lineups.
Crunch Time: Starters, but I’d maybe go with Curry at point, and Wade at 2 if we want a little more defense in some games.
Small Ball/Sharpshooting: Bosh, Durant, Thompson, Curry, Irving (my favorite small ball lineup of all of them)
Lock Down D/Full Court Press: Chandler, Davis, Butler, Wade/Thompson, Rose
Big Lineup: Chandler/Lopez, Cousins, Durant, Thompson, Rose/Wade
I don’t see a single downside to this lineup. It’s probably the one that fits together the best with all of its pieces. Popovich is the perfect coach to tinker with those lineups, too. And much like Team Red with LeBron, any weakness you think you might see kind of fades away if you plug in Durant.
So who got snubbed? Deron Williams comes to mind. Josh Smith, maybe. Taj Gibson is a personal favorite that I left off. You can let me know in the comments.
So the final question is, who wins the gold? I think Team Red would be the odds on favorite in Vegas, but I personally would put my money on Team Blue. They’d probably be the best value bet and I just want to roll with Popovich and my guy Derrick Rose. But let me know who you think and vote!