NBA / Jun 19, 2008 / 12:37 pm

Who Should Start for Team USA?

Jason KiddJason Kidd

With Chauncey Billups pulling his name out of consideration for the U.S. national team’s ’08 Olympic roster, it’s pretty much a forgone conclusion that USA Basketball boss Jerry Colangelo will name Jason Kidd, Chris Paul and Deron Williams to the Team USA roster when it’s announced next Monday. Who should be the starter among those three? Let’s break down the pros and cons…

Pros: Kidd has the experience — 14 years in the NBA, 105 playoff games, two NBA Finals appearances, and his much-hyped 44-0 record in FIBA play in the rearview mirror. He is the definition of the pass-first point guard (and perhaps the world’s greatest passer), witnessed by the fact that in 10 games at 16 minutes per in last year’s FIBA Americas tournament, he only took 10 shots. Total. With so many explosive scorers on the roster, Kidd is content to distribute all day on the offensive end, and he’s still a capable defender. At 6-4, 210 pounds, he can muscle many point guards at this level. He’s not a vocal leader, but has the respect of everyone in the U.S. locker room.
Cons: He won’t be able to stretch the defense with his shooting (38% FG), and as Chris Paul made clear in this year’s playoffs, the 35-year-old vet’s best days are behind him.

Pros: CP is hot right now. He’s coming off perhaps the greatest all-around season (21.1 ppg, 11.6 apg, 2.7 spg) for a point guard since Tiny Archibald’s 34-point, 11-assist per game campaign in 1972-73. The pick-and-roll can work wonders on the international level, and Paul runs it better than anyone in the NBA. He’s willing to look for his own shot, so if Team USA’s scorers and shooters are having an off day, he can shoulder the scoring load himself. No point guard in the world — at least not in this field — is faster with the ball, quicker getting from one spot to another, or will be able to stop Paul from penetrating into the lane.
Cons: Paul’s only other major international experience came during the ’06 World Championship, where he was the starter on a U.S. team that finished a disappointing third-place. His outside jumper is improving but by no means automatic, and while he collects a lot of steals, isn’t considered a great on-ball defender. He is also coming off the longest season of his career — 92 games counting the regular season and playoffs — and could be at risk of wearing down eventually.

Pros: Another maestro when it comes to pick-and-roll basketball, Deron has the added threat over CP that he is a dependable three-point shooter. A strong, solidly-built (6-3, 205) point, he can finish above the rim in traffic, out-physical many point guards in the League, and defend two-guards too if need be. He QB’d his team to the Western Conference Finals in ’07, and in the ’08 playoffs took control as Utah’s go-to scorer and general do-everything threat when Carlos Boozer and Andrei Kirilenko struggled. He will take and make game-winning shots in crunch time.
Cons: While he was on the U.S. team in last summer’s FIBA Americas tourney, Deron was the third-stringer and didn’t get as much (meaningful) on-court experience, logging the majority of his minutes in games that were already blowouts. Running with Team USA can, when the group is rolling, be akin to playing in the All-Star Game, and Williams doesn’t have any NBA All-Star nods under his belt.

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    Damn Austin not even a thanks YOUNGFED for bringing that breaking news to you guys first. And don’t say yall already knew he was pulling out.


  • http://nbaroundtable.wordpress.com/ Dave

    Jason Kidd with Deron Williams backing him up.

  • CHEE

    i would play CP3 b/c of what i saw in the playoffs.
    he can take over the gm by scoring and distributing.

    BUT most likely they gonna start kidd b/c he is vet, leader, and like u said everybody respect him.
    I don’t see kidd coming off the bench.
    Lebron and Kobe wouldnt allow it.

  • srb

    Kidd’s been the guy there for a while, he’ll have the most success immediately. Not time yet to pass it on to the next guy (probably CP).

  • http://psinapticapotheosis.org Amar

    Deron with no all-star nods . . . you can thank the blazers for sending out iRoys to all the voting coaches for that. Deron deserved to be an all-star this season, and you know it.

  • http://psinapticapotheosis.org Amar

    re: CP3 …. “No point guard in the world — at least not in this field — is faster with the ball, quicker getting from one spot to another, or will be able to stop Paul from penetrating into the lane.”

    It’s a shame that Deron kicked his ass in the skills contest then . . . but let’s be all revisionist here and forget that Deron put Paul in a situation to score 6 points in a game once, that’s not stopping him though, lol.

  • doc

    Amar nobody gives a shit about the skills comp.They both nice.Kidd gotta start though because he’s the vet.Im sure they wont mind.They gonna split the time anyway.

  • DaPro

    Damn why throw Kidd under the bus like that. Dallas was in turmoil and Kidd’s game suffered under Avery so Paul dominated but he does that to everyone not named TP OR Deron.

    Kidd starts because he’s still the best passing gaurd in the league. After that it’s a toss up because you can play CP3 and Deron at the same time just to sh** on the rest of the field

  • http://psinapticapotheosis.org Amar

    Yeah, I’m just playing around. Having to choose between Jason, Chris and Deron is like having to figure out which Brazilian supermodel is the hottest. (is there really a bad choice?)

    For those who want the empiricism of head-to-head games (10), this is how Deron and Chris stack up against each other.

    MPG: CP (35:05) vs. Deron (36:14)
    PPG: CP (13.8) vs. Deron (17.45)
    FG: CP (35.4%) vs. Deron (54.3%)
    FT: CP (84.6%) vs. Deron (67.5%)
    3PT: CP (15.0%) vs. Deron (41.9%)
    APG: CP (9.00) vs. Derong (7.55)
    RPG: CP (2.90) vs. Deron (3.36)
    SPG: CP (2.50) vs. Deron (0.82)
    BPG: CP (0.10) vs. Deron (0.09)

  • Rafa23

    looks like a point for deron…
    but in the end it doesn’ matter,
    the scenario “having to take over because the rest of the team is cold…” won’t happen with this team. you just have to pass and maybe hit some open shots. its really an easy job.

  • word

    Deron start with Cp3 back up,

    no offence but Kidd is old.

  • word

    damn people are sleeping on Deron.

  • aj

    Gotta be D-Will, he’s the best all-around PG with very minimal weakness. He shoots the best by leaps and bounds, is a 9.9 out of 10 on the Kidd/CP3 passing scale, and is as good if not a better defender.

    I can’t see the vets letting D-Will start but he will definitely be on the court come crunch time should they encounter any close games.

  • http://psinapticapotheosis.org Amar

    nah, it comes down to matchups . . . do they want a small speedy guy like CP to check a small speedy guy on the other team, or do they want to post deron on the smaller, fast guy, etc . . .

    when you have your alpha offense out there, maybe it’s just better to have kidd on the court, to get everyone good shots?

  • Kudabeen

    They rotate lineups a lot. The starter doesn’t play the most meaningful minutes. Hopefully it will be about match-ups and adjustments and not egos. There will be situations where Deron is the best option for his combination of size, shooting, and setup ability. Other times CP3 will be needed for his superior setup ability off penetration, in between game, and disruptive defensive capabilities.

    J Kidd will set the table and determine how the game should be played, so he should start and test the waters. He will then better be able to direct the younger guards on what they need to be doing on the floor.

    I disagree with the assertion that Kidd isn’t a vocal leader. He just isn’t demonstrative toward teammates when telling them what they need to be doing. I remember in the behind the scenes videos there was a lot of coaching Jason was doing. He was even credited with setting the tone of professionalism, pride and team play much like Kobe was the guy to kick start the defensive tone and Carmelo the offensive tone.

  • Three Stacks

    Deron should start with this squad. He’s the only point on the team with a reliable jumper, and you know everyone on the International level is throwing a zone at us. Why would you repeat the same mistakes that have doomed Team USA the last few times out?

    Having JKidd to control the pace if games either get out of hand or start slipping away, and CP as a change-of-pace player off the bench seems perfect to me.

  • Kudabeen

    If Kobe and Carmelo are both starting with Lebron or Amare at the 4 (As reported) and Dwight at the 5, A PG with a jumpshot is not as important as a PG that sets guys up.

  • shake&bake

    I think Deron would be the best fit as a starter, he is a good distributing pg (not as good as Paul) and he has a better outside shot. Also he can defend bigger guards a lot better with his size and strength. Both are better than Kidd at this stage of their careers.

  • Daily boy

    I think CP3 should start but really don’t matter as long as they bring home the Gold

  • NYCBalla

    I have to say Kidd should start because of the respect and experience factors. Though, I wouldn’t play him a majority of the minutes. I would play D-Will more minutes than the others because his skills and size are a better fit for international play, plus he’s got that “I will not lose” mentality that Kobe has. These two together would kill!

  • Kudabeen

    Chris Paul doesn’t have the “I will not lose” mentality?

    The international game is largely a drive and kick and Pick and Roll game. Deron is not going to be getting post up opportunities. The Bigs in the international game don’t get many post up opportunities, hence the need for them to hit the mid-range shot of bang for boards/put backs…

    I won’t get into arguing about performance of CP3 and D Will. The numbers prove out productivity. Deron may be a tough matchup for CP3 head to head, but they aren’t playing against each other. We watched Paul all year be the best PG in the league. He made Chandler a borderline All-star. A guy with no tangible skill set on offense.

    Either way we should get the gold if guys make it about Team…

  • pimpin

    passing is the only thing Paul does better than deron IMO. Intl teams normally have bigger point guards, and Paul isn’t a great defender anyway. I’d start Kidd cuz with all that firepower around him u need them to get touches early on to get them in a rhythm, then bring dwill in for crunchtime and the bulk of the minutes. Paul would be mop up third stringer, not to shit on him but because his size will be a liability. Ain’t dude (in real life, not the “official NBA measurements”) just under 6 feet without shoes?

  • krip

    J-Kidd starting with CP3 and DW splitting backup time.

  • http://dlyte41.googlepages.com/ dh

    they gotta start Kidd. he is the vet and deserves it.

    also, Kidd and Kobe might be their best defensive guards.

    just like in football the defense starts with the front line (pg’s, sg’s – de’s and dt’s).

  • http://www.ballerblogger.com Brandon Hoffman

    J. Kidd will start and I wouldn’t be surprised to see D. Williams get the bulk of the backup minutes.

    International ball is a physical game.

    Chris Paul couldn’t handle the physicality when he led us to bronze.

    His game has improved since then but he’s still the same size.

  • kb24!

    J kidd cause he’s a vet, and hes a hall of famer right now. Give the guy the starting spot cause he isn’t gonna be there that longer.

  • Jason

    The thing to remember is the international game is different the NBA. Handchecking is allowed. Have strong guards is a lot more important. So play Kidd and Deron. In fact I would have taken Wade and left Paul off. His game is just not suited to the international game.

  • cora

    who care? i only want to watch good games.A friend said that on tall dating site ___Tallmingle.com___,which is a dating site for all tall friends and tall singles,especially models and basketball players.

  • http://nba.com ninja cool

    Those olympic opponents need to get rondo’d!

  • jay

    i agree it depends on matchups…ai had trouble with the bigger international guards but we got kob in the back court to help out. kidd will not be able to go major minutes..maybe start cp3 depending on size of oppenent and go from there. among kob, dwade, and bron who can all handle we should be ok if cp3 lacks some size..i expect jaykidd starting at gold medal round!