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Olympics / Jul 26, 2010 / 11:24 am

Team USA needs help in the paint

Brook Lopez, Dime #43

Saturday night’s intra-squad scrimmage only re-confirmed some conspicuous truths regarding Team USA: They’re athletic, they can shoot, and they’ve got pure scorers all over the place.

But while Kevin Durant, Rudy Gay, Derrick Rose and Eric Gordon were busy dropping buckets from beyond the arc and above the rim, Team USA’s lack of depth among big men was also a glaring reality. The box score doesn’t tell the whole story, but it can’t go ignored: Brook Lopez had 2 points and zero rebounds, Lamar Odom had 2 points and 6 rebounds, Gerald Wallace had 4 points and zero boards, and JaVale McGee pitched in 7 points and 3 boards. Tyson Chandler (13 pts, 9 rebs, 4 blks), Jeff Green (11 pts, 8 rebs) and Kevin Love (8 pts, 7 rebs) had solid stat lines, but overall, the bigs in this game were mostly just there to rebound and throw outlets. It wasn’t until the fourth quarter when it seemed both the White team and Blue team made a conscious effort to pound the ball into the middle.

As Coach K works to cut the roster down to 12 before the World Basketball Festival (August 12-15) and the FIBA World Championship, choosing the right combination of centers and power forwards will be crucial. Lopez was reportedly sick with mono, lending to his subpar performance at last week’s training camp. Chandler and Odom both came into camp out of shape, Green and Wallace aren’t natural power forwards, Love lacks the ideal athleticism, and McGee is just a baby. Carlos Boozer and Tayshaun Prince didn’t exactly tear the house down in the ’08 Olympics, but I think they’d be a welcome addition to this version of the USA team.

Fortunately for the U.S., several other countries in the WC field will be without their top big men as well. Andrew Bogut is out for Australia, Dirk Nowitzki and Chris Kaman won’t play for Germany, Mehmet Okur is sitting out for Turkey, Darko won’t suit up for Serbia, Yao Ming is sidelined for China, Joakim Noah may not play for France and Luis Scola may not play for Argentina, and Pau Gasol is out for Spain.

In a perfect world, USA Basketball could identify the trouble areas and call up some reinforncements from outside the program — Carl Landry, Troy Murphy, Kenyon Martin (if he weren’t injured) and Paul Millsap come to mind — but one reason they put together this program in the first place is to avoid the thrown-together rosters and lack of continuity that plagued USA squads in the past. Assuming there will be four bigs on the final roster, does Coach K lean toward experience, size, athleticism, skill, or just go with who’s playing well right now?

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  • Cotton

    Where is Marcus Camby? Is he injured again?

  • cesar

    brazil is going with nene, varejão and splitter. i think they will have a chance to make some noise

  • http://www.cnnsi.com JAY

    @#2 Cesar

    +1

  • George W Kush Sr

    I agree with Cotton, how come Camby never got an invite?

  • LMNOP

    That list of bigs is pretty piss poor isnt it. outside of Brook its just too young, to short or too shit.

    Then you got that list of injured Foreign big guys and its like, All Stars and Darko……… quite shameful really

  • Mafia Bros

    You know what dude doesn’t belong out there?

    Kevin Love.

    Every time Team USA puts together a team, there’s always that token white guy. This year, it’s going to be Kevin Love. He has no business being there.

  • Rizwan

    Why does Brook Lopez look like one of those aliens from MIB? Why would he allow such a picture to see the light of day?!

  • cov

    blake griffin

  • Pareja

    @Mafia Bros:
    Tyson Chandler deserves to be on team and Love doesn’t?

    Jibbah jabbah.

    You need guy like Kevin in the international game, he’s smarter than Chandler, he knocks down that 15 footer. Chandler…not.
    What do you get in Tyson that you do not have in combination of Lopez & Mcgee?

    + I agree with cesar, Brazil will make usa work, especially in the paint, they have great team. And considering traditional team usa bad opening games, Croatia will make them work too on the opening night.

  • b

    jeff green getting a chance over david lee, millsap, and landry is crazy. he plays solid D but is not on the overall level of those other guys, internationally or otherwise. maybe they just brought him along to keep durant happy.

  • Foom DIzzle

    @ Pareja

    I’m pretty sure Tyson Chandler is all sorts of better than Love on the Defensive end which is what Team USA needs. You think this team is devoid of players being able to hit a 15ft jumper? C’mon man. Not only is Chandler a better rebounder, shot-blocker, and better overall defender, he has a good 5 inches on Kevin Love. What is it that a combination that Lopez and McGee possess that a Chandler doesn’t? You answered your own question. While Tyson only takes up a single roster spot, those two take up two. First off, McGee is a bubble guy and will only make this team if all the bigs decide to back out or simply injure themselves, so now you ask yourself what does Tyson Chandler bring that the Love doesn’t have?

    1) Size
    2) Athleticism
    3) Defensive Presence (rebounding and shot-blocking)
    All of which, Team USA is currently in short supply of. Love possesses none of the above. If being able to hit a 15 foot jumper is the only criterion that a player has to meet to be able to play on Team USA and having “smarts”, I can list a crapload of players that are more deserving of a spot than Kevin Love because they also possess other skills. How about an Al Jefferson? A Josh Smith? A Mike Miller? Carl Landry? Paul Millsap?

    There are definitely other players more deserving than Kevin Love out there.

  • Pareja

    @Foom

    man, there are bunch of players that deserve it more than Love in the L! but I compared impact of love and tyson in the international game. Ahtleticism is something that won’t be missing to team usa. like ALWAYS: shooting is what they need. Just look at any tournament… And man! Chandler is NOT better rebounder despite his athleticism! check the stats… love is not all star and guy for normal usa roster, but he is slightly underrated.
    You’re talkin about tyson’s defensive presence? but what about offensive presence…? I don’t know about you but I want usa big man that can score a basket. And you are sayin that chandler is better than lopez?! Thats too easy to even make an additional statement. I hope we agree at last in this: usa roster shouldn’t have chandler nor love.

  • BiGShoTBoB

    What about Al Jefferson how come he didn’t get an invite…seems like he’s just what they need.

  • This_Will_Hurt

    Apparently FDizzle thinks TChandler is 7’3”

    USA will be fine…KD got thiss

  • Foom DIzzle

    @ This_Will_Hurt

    http://www.draftexpress.com/profile/Kevin-Love-1062/

    Kevin Love is listed at a generous 6’10”. He is not even 6’8″. Tyson Chandler is a legitimate 7’1″. 5 inches. No Joke.

  • http://usabasketball.com TEAM USA 2010

    before y’all write US off. we got a month of work to do and still haven’t even played game 1 yet. sure we don’t have a post scoring threat but i think we have to play chandler the way CP3 did. pick n roll all day. but in saturdays game the guards definitely ignored the roll. i think chandler could’ve dropped 20+ had that not happened. as long as we bring legit bigs ie mcgee lopez love chandler and we get production outta them we’re good. they all have different skill sets. LOVE is 6’10” gets a lot of off. rebs. & could shoot 3s. McGee in much needed. if he learns quickly he’ll be ok same thing goes for the rest of team. Brazil will give us a pretty good run but by the time we meet them the cold water that got thrown in our faces in Spain & Greece would have worn off. somebody commented that this team took an exhibition game approach to sat. nights game. and i agree wallace & odom and billups were the ones i saw. guys believe me there’s nothing coach k & USAB would like more than to win the WC. you could call this a redeem team as well since we lost the last WC in Japan

  • brainstrike

    What are they thinking assembling this group?? 5 POINT GUARDS!!! are they kahn guy or what?? why dont you add blakegriifin, al jeff, or even horford…

  • ab_40

    horford plays for dominican republic. blake griffin isn’t allowed there just like amar’e his first nba season is more important same for oden and bynum. Al Jefferson wasn’t selected in the first place.

  • Aussiedestroya

    I’m curious to know from an Americano’s perspective just how much desire the US players have to win the gold. With the redeem team there was no issue here, but all the other nations put international ball ahead of their NBA or European teams. Talent and Athleticism is surely with Team USA, but if the desire to win is not there I think a team with solid big men familiar with international rules (eg Brazil) will take the gold. Thoughts?