Everyone, or most people would agree that the 2012 U.S. Men’s Basketball team is far from the best team that can be assembled of American players. So even though the 2012 team is clearly not as good as it could be, people still constantly compare the 2012 team to the 1992 team, which is close to one of the best teams they could have made.
A quick redo of the 1992 Dream Team that would actually make it a ‘Dream’ Team would have the following moves.
1. Hakeem Olajuwon replaces Patrick Ewing. David Robinson shifts to back up center (A starting line up of Magic/Jordan/Bird/Barkley/Olajuwon might be the best possible line up that can be assembled from a single moment in time.)
2. Following the model of having one college star, an easy replacement would be taking Shaquille O’Neal over Christian Laettner. I am definitely not the first person to say this in the history of basketball.
So the 1992 ‘True’ Dream Team roster stands at
- PG – Magic Johnson/John Stockton
- SG – Michael Jordan/Clyde Drexler
- SF – Larry Bird/Scottie Pippen/Chris Mullin
- PF – Charles Barkley/Karl Malone
- C – Hakeem Olajuwon/David Robinson/Shaquille O’Neal
Now that is an amazing line up. That is ridiculous. I don’t even understand how there can be this much talent in a basketball team.
Also sometimes overlooked is that Magic and Bird were not their prime selves, but are inclusions because of their legacy, and even though they were not at their absolute peak, they still kicked most of the NBA’s butt.
So if we use the original Dream Team’s model… One guy out of college, and putting in players with a strong consideration towards their legacy, we have a much better team that would actually spark some stimulating conversation in a 1992 Vs. 2012 debate. The worst arguments are “The 2012 team is so athletic, they would run the 1992 team to the ground!” arguments. You need to reevaluate your lives if that is your main argument. Or maybe I should reevaluate my life for writing on a basketball blog. The 1992 team is not athletic? Jordan, Barkley, Pippen and Drexler could all dunk on Dwight Howard’s sorry ass. Karl Malone pummels through any power forward in today’s game. David Robinson is every bit as athletic as Dwight Howard. Bird, Mullin, and Stockton are white, so I don’t have too much of an argument for them.
But here goes. I am going to count down my 12 man roster for the 2012 Dream Team. It also turns out that 2012 is not a bad overlap season, where you get some legends still in highly productive years, as well as a great class of players currently running the league. Here I’ve even bothered to try and research and see what jersey numbers they would wear, so here I am listing them off by jersey number.
4 – Anthony Davis, New Orleans Hornets – PF/C
As the youngest and ugliest member of the Dream Team, you get last pick on numbers. Tim Duncan wore 13 for most of his Team USA outings, but it turns out he once wore the number 14, in the 1994 Goodwill Games. Tim Duncan was 18 in 1994. I was a one-year-old child in 1994.
Anthony Davis may end up being a Christian Laettner type of selection, as in not being the best college basketball player to pick. A lot of experts are already predicting other players to be the best player of this draft. I’m in the Harrison Barnes camp, but that’s more wishful thinking than basketball predicting. It is pretty hard to be the best player of a draft class based on defense alone. The league just places a certain value on offense.
But for now, Anthony Davis is the logical pick as the college guy, just based on his college success.
5 – Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder – SF/PF
Every time I see Kevin Durant make a 3 in international ball, the words “3-point-lay-ups” comes to my mind. I don’t even think I have hit more than 5 three pointers consecutively in my life time. As arguably the second best player in the NBA, Kevin Durant is a lock for the 2012 Dream Team. It’s amazing how he plays off-ball so much, has Russell Westbrook as his point guard, and can STILL be the scoring champion. I have no problem with the way he is being utilized right now in the Olympics. Durant is still off the ball a lot, which is fine when you have guys like Paul and LeBron bringing the ball up. Durant naturally becomes the ever popular stretch 4 (emphasis on STRETCH) just because of match ups. Of course having the scoring champion as your stretch 4 is a whole lot different from Udonis Haslem spotting up from 15 feet.
6 – LeBron James, Miami Heat – SF/PG
After watching the NBA Finals and seeing what LeBron James is like as a player with a well built team with multiple options on offense, it is very clear what LeBron’s true role on a basketball court is. A distributor. A distributor who also scores 30 point a night with ease. Fuck me in the asshole. Obviously the best player in the world deserves a spot on his country’s national team.
7 – Deron Williams, Brooklyn Nets – PG
The Brooklyn Nets! Of all the top point guards in the NBA, Deron Williams is the best fit next to LeBron James. But USA Basketball is not about building around LeBron, but building the best team possible. I have Deron Williams as the third best Point Guard in the NBA after Paul and Rose (and Rondo is HOT on the heels of these 3). Deron runs the backup role well, which in Team USA basketball, means leading the run-the-score-up unit. If I’m Mikhail Prokhorov or Jay-Z, I give Deron Williams a million dollars every time he breaks someone’s ankles in the Olympics.
I hope Deron Williams has a good season this year with the Brooklyn Nets. I have always liked Deron over Paul, but over the last year or so it became evident why many people have Paul over Williams as the best point guard in the league… But a good year in Brooklyn can change that. Maybe a little bit.
8 – Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers – SG
Why doesn’t Kobe just rock the number 8 like the good old days?
To those who have not been watching Olympic basketball, here is a newsflash. Kobe Bryant is struggling in this year’s games. He has the worst shooting percentage out of everyone on the team. But you know what? He’s Kobe Fucking Bryant, the same Kobe Bryant who occasionally makes you question if he ever passed the torch of being the best player in the league to LeBron James. The Kobe Bryant that carried that 2008 team in Beijing. Kobe Bryant still starts on this team, a nod of respect to him being one of the greatest players ever. Also Dwyane Wade makes one of the best 6th men ever, in terms of super stacked national teams.
9 – Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat, SG
The first guy on this list that is not on the actual team! Dwyane Wade easily makes the team this year if he was not injured. In fact, the NBA store is selling 2012 Team USA Dwyane Wade jersey. What a slap in the face to Andre Iguodala! (Who gets his face slapped again in this post because I cut him from the 2012 team!)
Dwyane Wade makes the ideal 6th man to the 2012 team, just like he was on the 2008 team. His role should be expanded in the hypothetical 2012 because Kobe is slowing down, and is half of what he was in 2008. Seriously. Kobe killed the 08 Olympics, and even as a Kobe ‘hater,’ (I use this term loosely) 2012 Olympics Kobe Bryant has been painful to watch so far.
10 – Kevin Garnett, Boston Celtics – PF/C
Every player on my hypothetical 2012 Team USA has a “Fuck you, I’m *insert player name here*” type of swagger. EVERYONE. Anthony Davis has the “Fuck you, I’m Anthony Davis, and I’m so ugly the only girls I can bang in the Olympic village are the female weightlifters” type of swagger. Even Tim Duncan (who I include on this team) has that swagger. “Fuck you, I’m Tim Duncan. Now let me stay in my hotel room and order room service while I watch game tape for the upcoming season and finish this Sudoku puzzle. And stop asking me questions about Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte just because I used to swim.” Except Timmy is a class and polite guy, so he will give a nice media friendly response, but everyone knows that is what he really means.
Back to the “Fuck you, I’m *player name*” swagger. Everyone has it, but no one has it like Kevin Garnett. Kevin Garnett will punk every single international guard, set hard illegal screens, swat balls away after the whistle is blown, and get pumped up by wins over teams like Tunisia and Nigeria. If Carmelo was not such a monster in international tournaments, I’d be tempted to start KG. Kevin Garnett would be awesome on Team USA. As the young ‘YOLO’ demographic would say about giving fucks, Kevin Garnett gives zero fucks. Let’s take a moment to relive the second greatest Olympic moment of all time, which happened shortly after the greatest Olympic moment of all time.
“YEAAA!!!! VINCE CARTER ALMOST SOCKED ME IN THE FACE BUT THAT WAS AWESOME!!!”
Apart from the huge mental and locker room boost that Kevin Garnett would provide, 2012 Kevin Garnett’s game is well suited for international ball. Still one of the great defensive intimidators, he is one of those few power forwards that I would trust to guard a bulky international 7 foot center because of what a pain in the ass he is on the defensive end. In a small ball line up, KG is who I want at the center. Watching Kevin Love trying to anchor a defense in this tournament elicits the same reaction that I get when I watch this video.
Awww… poor puppy can’t roll over 😦
11 – Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls – PG/SG
“OJ, I am so much more better than you at basketball that it isn’t even funny.”
Derrick Rose will play the role that Westbrook plays in these Olympic games, but he will do it a lot better. Rose will be part of the ‘second unit.’ I see Durant and Wade being pseudo first unit next to the starting 5. Rose just won’t get major minutes, like how Westbrook is only getting second unit playing time.
Which is pretty awesome. With the exception of the Lithuania game, the second unit just runs the score up and puts the game out of reach. What happens is Coach K decides to give his starters a little break when their team is up around 15, but the difference in talent between the US second unit and any other team’s second unit is much greater than the disparity between the two teams’ starting fives. By the time the starters are done resting, Williams and Westbrook have wrecked enough havoc and it is a 30 point game, so Coach K just puts Anthony Davis in the game.
If you have guards that can keep up with the likes of Deron Williams and Derrick Rose they should be in the first unit. Except they are in the first unit, and they are pretty worn out from chasing around Chris Paul, Kobe, and Dwyane Wade for most of the game.
12 – Dwight Howard,
Orlando Magic – C
If I ever meet Chris Bosh or Dwight Howard in person, my question to them would be why Dwight Howard is wearing the number 11 and why Chris Bosh is wearing the number 12 in the 2008 Olympics. Does Chris Bosh hate the number 11 so much that he convinced Dwight to wear 12? Did Dwight lose a bet to Chris Bosh? In the 2006 FIBA tournament, Chris Bosh wore 11 and Dwight wore his normal number 12. There’s definitely some weird story behind this, or it is one of those dumb accidents that happened and was embraced, just because.
The best defensive anchor in the league is another easy inclusion, and Dwight definitely makes the team if healthy, and not a bitch. Can you imagine how big of a middle finger Dwight would get from the public and the media if he was having this ‘Dwightmare’ situation and went out there to participate in the Olympics?
Because Tyson Chandler is such a roamer defensively, he sometimes hurts the US by not being in position to rebound. In a must-get-a-stop situation, US would pair Garnett with Dwight, allowing Garnett to be a bit of a roamer and Dwight Howard to swallow up rebounds, or come off-ball and block a ball into the 5th row. I hate when he does that unnecessarily, which is most of the time.
Man Dwight Howard is just a guy that I can’t get behind, but there is no way I’m excluding him from the roster. Also Dwight gets absolutely eaten up by Olajuwon.
13 – Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers – PG
If all the Team USA guys were going to have a week long, who gets laid the most contest, who would win?
It’s definitely a 3-way tie between Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade, and Kobe Bryant. Chris Paul would probably float a little better with the prevalent younger crowd. And I’m not talking about those preteen gymnast swimmer girls. That is disgusting and wrong.
As the leading floor general in the NBA, Chris Paul starts at point guard for Team USA. Paul might have the most awkward job in the Olympics, telling offensive juggernauts like Kobe, LeBron, Carmelo, and Durant what to do on offense. “No Carmelo, if you run around that screen, I can hit you with a pass for an easy lay-in. That way you don’t have to do a contested turnaround jump shot!”
14 – Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs – PF/C
See? I told you that even Tim Duncan has a “Fuck you, I’m Tim Duncan” type of persona in him. This time he is saying “Fuck you, I’m Tim Duncan. Manu stop trying so hard, we have to go back to the NBA and win championships, because I’m Tim Duncan and these are my priorities in life.”
And look at that bald spot on Manu! It was not even that bad in 2004!
Although Tim Duncan will be exclusively playing center in this 2012 tournament, and at this point in his career he is pretty much a center, I have a hard time not listing him as a power forward. It is just a rule of basketball. No matter how much of a center Tim Duncan is, he’s still a power forward. It’s the Tim Duncan rule, anyone else, you call them whatever position they end up playing that season.
Even if I was not a Dwight Howard hater, in an everything on the line situation, such as the medal game, I have Tim Duncan or Kevin Garnett at center late in the fourth, depending on the match up. Just all around reliability. If a play gets broken up and there is a need for some last second offense, I’d be fine with Tim Duncan hoisting up a 3. However if the ball ends up in Dwight Howard’s hands further than 3 feet from the basket with 1 second left on the shot clock, I’m typing or texting ‘smh’ furiously to whoever I happen to be discussing the game with at the time of the game.
Right now, Tim Duncan is the best person on this team all-time. When all is said and done, I hope Timmy is second behind LeBron.
15 – Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks – SF/PF
Carmelo runs international ball. Only 90s kids will understand. Like this if you agree. Every time you share this you donate 10 cents to the Carmelo runs international ball foundation.
Even though I am not the biggest Carmelo fan, it is a travesty that Coach K is starting Durant over Carmelo. It is not even a “Oh let’s bring him off the bench for some firepower” type of deal a la James Harden on the Thunder. It is just a kick in the nuts situation. If I’m Carmelo Anthony, I am taking Kevin Durant’s phone when he’s not looking then tweeting stuff like “I love when @JHarden13 eats my asshole out. Feels great with his beard and everything. #ThunderUp”
Carmelo is kind of like the guy at the gym who just flat out scores, but does not really have a spot on a more conventional basketball team. But he still balls in pick up games, because life happens. International ball is Carmelo’s pick up game. Just like man and team defense is not that vital in pick up games, man and team defense is not the biggest worry for Carmelo. And even though Carmelo is just average on defense in the NBA, his size, strength, and quickness make him a more than capable defender in international basketball.
Like Durant, by misfortune of international teams not being able match up, you often get a slow-footed international power forward guarding Carmelo. Melo rips these guys to shreds. In his 37 point game, most of his 3s came from the opposing team’s 4 man not being accustomed to picking up his man at the 3 point line. Carmelo trails a little, camps at the 3 point line… Money every time.
Upon further research, the Nigerian guy that keeps getting burned by Carmelo is none other than former Golden State Warrior lottery pick bust, Ike Diogu. Serves him right!
So here is my 12 for a 2012 Dream Team. Since I took all the time to write this up, I will write another piece on how this team would fare against the 1992 True Dream Team.
And a depth chart, for reference
- PG – Chris Paul/Deron Williams
- SG – Kobe Bryant/Dwyane Wade/Derrick Rose
- SF – LeBron James/Kevin Durant
- PF – Carmelo Anthony/Kevin Garnett/Anthony Davis
- C – Dwight Howard/Tim Duncan
More in the next few days!