The 2016 Summer Olympics will take place from Aug. 5 – Aug. 21 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Leading the 2016 USA basketball team one final time at the games will be legendary Duke Head Coach, Mike Krzyzewski (Coach K). Overall, Krzyzewski has amassed a record of 75-1 as head coach of the U.S. Olympic squad.
Selecting the 12-man roster for this summer’s Olympics will be a very difficult process for Coach K, though at the same time, an overload of talent is usually a good problem to have. The amount of talent that exists in the national team program is extraordinary, which means Coach K is going to have extremely tough decisions to make. Among the 30 finalists for the 12 spots, there is plenty of experience, including multiple players who have already won gold medals at the Olympics with Coach K.
There are about 10 players who are a lock to be on the roster, led by the world’s top three players in Stephen Curry, LeBron James and Kevin Durant, who will play the most this summer in Rio. Aside from those all-stars, James Harden and Anthony Davis are, in all likelihood, going to be the other two starters for Coach K and the USA team. This will have to be Coach K’s starting five, as these are the best individual players at their respective positions in the NBA. This lineup will bring a great variety of size, skill and style to the table for Coach K to start off the tournament in winning fashion.
Outside of the starting five, Coach K will have to look at guys like Kawhi Leonard, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Kyrie Irving and DeMarcus Cousins.
Yes, there is a lot of point guards on that list. But, each of those players can also play the shooting guard position with their ability to handle, shoot and drive the basketball. Westbrook, Paul and Irving are stout defensively as well, and will look especially talented against international competitors.
Leonard makes himself a lock for the team in his own right because of the impact he has made over the last couple years for the San Antonio Spurs. Leonard won the NBA Finals MVP back in 2014 against the Miami Heat, took home the Defensive Player of the Year Award last season and currently ranks second in NBA MVP voting this season.
Cousins appears a lock as well, simply because he is the best big man in all of basketball. He has absurd numbers over the past two seasons that can’t be denied, as last season he averaged 24 points per game and 13 rebounds. This season he is averaging 26 points per game to go with 11.4 rebounds. He is well on his way to making his first NBA all-first team roster at the end of the season.
After those 10 guys, it becomes tricky for the USA men’s basketball team to decide who’s deserving of the final prestigious spots. There is a deep and talented list of players behind them including Draymond Green, LaMarcus Aldridge, John Wall, Blake Griffin and Klay Thompson.
Unfortunately there is too much talent for Coach K and his staff to pick everyone, and they will have to make some serious decisions that will likely leave a lot of people upset. However, the two most worthy guys to finalize the roster are the New York Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony and the Indiana Pacers’ Paul George.
Olympic veteran Carmelo Anthony may be on the back nine of his career, but still is one of the best players in the world. Anthony has played on the last three Olympic teams dating back to 2004 and pretty much has become family with the players and coaches. He is a scoring and rebounding machine at the international level. He set the record for most points in a single Olympic game for team USA with 37 points in 2012 against Nigeria. Anthony is only two years removed from the NBA scoring title in the 2012-2013 season, where he averaged over 29.5 points per game. He brings great size, skill and chemistry to the locker room, which will mostly be comprised of younger players. With this type of pedigree, it would be extremely bold for Coach K to leave him off the roster.
Paul George is another guy who makes sense for the team, with the versatility he can bring with his long, lean 6-foot-9-inch frame. He has the ability to play the shooting guard, small or power forward. George is currently eighth in the league in scoring and can play defense with the best of them, making the NBA all-defensive first team in 2014 and NBA all-defensive second team in 2013. He also had to miss almost the entire season last year due to an injury at USA basketball’s summer camp scrimmage in the summer of 2014.
It will be interesting and exciting to see the finalized roster this summer. The pool of players is arguably the most competitive and all around skilled pool of all time. Whoever is selected will be exceptionally honored to play for Krzyzewski in his final round as head coach of team USA in the summer Olympics.