Did the 12 best players in the NBA get into the 2012 Summer Olympics Team? Probably, considering all the injuries, which included Dwight Howard, Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. But with both LeBron James and Kevin Durant on the team, maybe both Carmelo Anthony and Andre Iguodala wasn’t necessary.
Maybe there were better options than Blake Griffin, who didn’t really show any kind of improvement this season for more than a short spurt of games to his defense or anything not involving dunking. Maybe using someone who can play both 4-5, although traditional positioning isn’t that important any more, as the NBA Finals proved to us, players like Tim Duncan or Kevin Garnett or even Josh Smith who can play center in FIBA competition would have made more sense. And then there’s Rajon Rondo being left out.
The point guard issue is a bit problematic in the current NBA world. Too many of them are really really good. The ones that are going to London – Chris Paul, Deron Williams and Russell Westbrook, aren’t necessarily better than Rondo. In my opinion, only Paul is someone I’d prefer as my team’s starting point guard to Rondo, and a healthy Derrick Rose.
Rondo averaged 17.3 points and 11.9 assists during the postseason, and he might be the best passer in the NBA. But there’s something about him that always kinda makes him fade into the background when compared with similar caliber players. Maybe it’s his pass-first style, or maybe it’s all the rumors about how hard it is to get along with him.
Bynum, unlike other stars who didn’t make it on the plane to London, wasn’t injured. He turned down the invitation to play for the Olympic team. He said he isn’t interested because he needed the rest and also planned to undergo a knee surgery. After finally completing a full season with the Los Angeles Lakers, playing in 60 regular season games, averaging 18.7 points, 11.8 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game. His maturity and commitment to his team, especially when the going gets tough. Still, seeing as the team has only one center, maybe Bynum instead of Griffin, Iguodala or Carmelo Anthony would be of more use in the Olympic games.
Garnettis another name that might have been quite handy at Center or power forward, adding a more offensive dimension than what the USA have right now with Tyson Chandler. Garnett averaged 19.2 points and 10.3 rebounds in the post season, showing that age hasn’t slowed him down by that much. Still, after a shortened season, a summer tour in the Olympic games might not be the best choice for Garnett, who probably still deserves a spot on such a team. Garnett won a gold medal in 2000 but declined to play on the 2004 team.
Along the same lines as Garnett. Duncan had a very productive postseason with 17.4 points and 9.4 rebounds per game, bowing out in the Western Cofnerence final. Unlike other on the team, Duncan has never won a gold medal, playing in the 2004 Athens games, the only ‘Dream Team’ that failed to win gold at the Olympics. After that summer, Duncan claimed he was 95% certain that his FIBA career is over.
Arguably finishing his best NBA season, averaging 18.8 points and 9.6 rebounds, Smith would have been an excellent forward-center type for the USA team, giving the offensive and defensive package, while obviously being one of the better athletes on the team. There’s a lot of talk about how this team will make up for the lack of depth behind Chandler at Center through athleticism. So why not use a guy who is that athletic plus is a much better defensive player and shot blocker than Blake Griffin?