When you think of the USA Men’s Basketball Olympic Team, you immediately remember the 1992 “Dream Team.” The 1992 team was the first American team to feature active NBA players and is considered the greatest team ever put together in any sport. Let me break it down for you. The Dream Team consisted of Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Patrick Ewing, Karl Malone, John Stockton, David Robinson, Christian Laettner, Scottie Pippen, Clyde Drexler, and Chris Mullin. Unless you live in a shell or have never heard anything about professional basketball you should have heard of majority of these players. The USA coasted through the Olympics embarrassing country after country and letting the world know that this is America’s sport and no one will change that. Even though the USA is ranked the #1 in the FIBA world rankings, they have found it difficult to portray the same dominance that they showed in the 90’s.
In 2004, the USA finished with an embarrassing bronze medal and received criticism from a country that does not accept anything but gold in this competition. If we lose a gymnastics competition or two who cares, but the basketball team must bring home the gold. The 2008 team redeemed the 2004 team’s failure by winning it all and restoring balance to the basketball world. This afternoon the 2012 squad was announced and I have to say that as an American I am very proud of the team we are sending to the London Olympics. Led by veteran’s Kobe Bryant, Lebron James and Carmelo Anthony, the USA will look to sweep through these Olympics with what I feel is the best team since 1992. Besides the three I have already mentioned, the USA will have the talents of Russel Westbrook, Chris Paul, James Harden, Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin, Andre Iguodala, Kevin Love and Tyson Chandler.
A lot of people look at this team as undersized and inexperienced, but what I see is a team that is built for the modern-day game. If you read the names of the 2012 team you will find only one true Center in Tyson Chandler and then no other dominant big men. Don’t try to come at me with Blake Griffin and Kevin Love because neither of them represent the typical big man that NBA fans are used to. They are both great players in their own rights, but players like Ewing, Robinson, Barkley and Malone are true big men. Some people will look at this like a negative, but with the way that international basketball is played now, the big man is a formality and no longer a necessity.
This is Carmelo, Kobe and Lebron’s third Olympics that they are playing together so the veteran leadership is present and accounted for. For some reason there are some skeptics out there that feel this year’s squad can’t match up to the 2008 team.
“They are just like us, they also have players with a lot of talent,” the Oklahoma City power forward said Saturday in his first full day of training with the Spanish team. “They are a different team to 2008, but their players are still very good.” I hope that the USA team doesn’t take condescending comments like this lightly. Sure Spain finished with the silver medal back in 2008, but there is no way they think they can actually match up with all of the best scorers in the NBA. The NBA scoring champion 7 out of the last 8 year’s is currently on the USA team. I honestly feel that the roster that we have going into the Olympics could have competed with the Dream Team. Now I am not saying they would have beaten the Dream Team, but any game between them would have definitely been competitive.
Chris Paul thinks that this team is much better than the ’08 squad. “When I think about ’08, we were really good then. But like me, LeBron and D-Will, all of us talk about, you’ve got to think about how much better all of us are now than we were in ’08,” Paul said. “All of us as players, we shoot the ball better. Guys are more athletic, guys are more confident. One through 12, no question we’re deeper than we were in ’08.”
If you didn’t notice, OKC will have their big 3 on the roster and James Harden couldn’t be more proud. “Great characters, workaholics, just humble guys, humble guys and blessed to be in this position,” Harden said of himself, Durant and Westbrook. (Guys) who work hard and just set ourselves up for greatness and to achieve, and just to be on the same team with these guys means a lot.”
Spirits are up and the gold medal is America’s to lose. Will all of these high expectations be too much for America to handle? I think not. I expect to see the USA dominate throughout the Olympics and bring home the gold. If that doesn’t happen it will be considered on of the biggest tragedies in American basketball history. How do you feel this USA team will finish the 2012 Olympics?
There is little debate about who the best Power Forward in the past 15 seasons has been. Tim Duncan has been a game changing player since he entered the league in 1997, helping lead his Spurs team to a championship in only his second year. In his career he has averaged 20.3 ppg, 11.3 rebounds, 2.2 blocks and he played in at least 50 games every season he’s been in the league. With 4 NBA Championships, 2 MVPs, 3 Finals MVPs and a Rookie of the Year award to his name, he has assured himself a Hall of Fame spot and he’s in the discussion for best big man of all time. He has a chance this year to make another run at a title, and I’m not quite sure people are appreciating Timmy for what he’s worth. With all that said, the Sports Debater Brain Trust is having a small disagreement over who the next great Power Forward will be. With the likes of Duncan, Kevin Garnett and Dirk Nowitzki in their last years, the young crop of Power Forwards are ready to step into the limelight. LaMarcus Aldridge, Derrick Favors, Thaddeus Young, Michael Beasley, Derrick Williams and company all have a lot of potential, but we choose two others to argue about as to who has the most upside.
Kevin Love vs. Blake Griffin
Kevin Love (NYbobby)Kevin Love is an absolute machine. Although he plays in Minnesota, which is basically off the NBA map as far as relevance goes, Love has filled up the stat sheets in every way imaginable. He was drafted with the fifth pick by the Memphis Grizzlies in 2008, and traded the same day to the T-Wolves, weeks after leading the UCLA Bruins to a Final Four appearance in his Freshman season. In Love’s rookie season he had 29 double-doubles, finishing ninth in rebounds, 3rd in offensive rebounds and led the league in offensive rebounding percentage. He was the first rookie to do so since Hakeem Olajuwon in 84-85, and Hakeem’s career ended out being pretty decent…
In the past few seasons Love has put up scary, historic numbers. He began this last season with 15 straight double doubles, being the first player to do so in twenty years since….you guessed it…Hakeem Olajuwon! In 2010-2011 he led the NBA in rebounding with 15.2 a game, and followed it up this past year with a 13.3 average. His scoring in the past two years has increased from 20.0 ppg to 26.2 ppg. At this rate, we might be looking at 28-29 ppg next year with 14-15 rebounds?!?! The sky seems to be the limit at this point.
Are those numbers not enough proof that Love is the top PF going forward. In November of 2010, Love had the first 30 point, 30 rebound game in 28 years of NBA ball. This past year he scored 51 points in a game against Oklahoma City, then on the next night he put up a smooth 30 point, 21 rebound game against Denver…No Big Deal. He broke the T-Wolves record for 30 point games in a season, sorry Kevin Garnett. Just to top it all off, he went head to head with Kevin Durant in the Three Point Contest at this past All-Star game and beat him too. So lets recap, best rebounder in the game, historic double doubles, averages mid 20’s in ppg, and can outshoot the top sniper in the game from downtown. Not too shabby…
Blake Griffin (matthewtodderich)
Electrifying, high-flying, fearless, tenacious, these are just a few of the many ways you can describe the young phenomenon they call Blake Griffin. From his dominance in college, playing for Oklahoma, to his car-leaping slam dunk in the NBA All-Star game last season, Griffin has mesmerized the basketball world. Just into his second season, Griffin has led his LA Clippers to the second round of the playoffs where he faces off with best power forward of all time, Tim Duncan. Even though these two guys play the same position, they play two completely different styles of the game. While Duncan plays the more conventional PF with his casual post-up ability linked with his smooth bank shot, Griffin has started a new trend for PF’s where he moves without the ball like a stealth ninja and electrifies the fans with his acrobatic dunks.
Griffin won 4 state titles as a high schooler at Oklahoma Christian School, playing for his father, and stayed at home to attend the University of Oklahoma for his college ball. He was showered with numerous accolades like Naismith College Player of the Year, the Oscar Robertson trophy and the John Wooden award. After 2 years at Oklahoma, Griffin was taken with the first overall pick by the Clippers. He went on to win the Rookie of the Year in 2010, and was honored by Sports Illustrated in 2011, as they named him one of the top 15 NBA Rookies of all-time. In that Rookie season, Griffin was the first rookie since Allen Iverson in 1996 to have two 40 point games in his first campaign. Following in the footsteps of the before mentioned Duncan, Griffin was the first Rookie to be voted into an All-Star game by the coaches since Timmy himself in 1998.
Griffin is only through his second full season but his numbers speak volumes of what we can expect from him for years to come. Blake averages 22 points per game while pulling in close to 12 boards. He is also a very impressive passer for a big man with an average of close to 4 assists a game. The most amazing part of Griffin’s behemoth offensive stats is that he shoots the ball at an outstanding 55% from the floor. There is no power forward in the game that does more for his team right now, and there is no one with more upside then Blake Griffin right now in the NBA. Blake has taken the laughing-stock of the NBA, LA Clippers, and transformed them into a playoff contending team that anyone with a little sense would fear playing.
You’ve heard our thoughts on this subject…Who do you agree with and if it’s neither of us, who do you believe is the future of the PF position in today’s game…