Starting on August 22nd, the 2007 FIBA Americas Championship will begin. As of right now, there are thirty NBA players, as well as two players that are not yet in the NBA, that are trying out for the USA team. Only 12 of these men will make Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski’s final cut. Here is a list of all the players trying out for the team:
Carmelo Anthony- Forward- Denver Nuggets
Gilbert Arenas- Guard- Washington Wizards
Shane Battier- Forward- Houston Rockets
Chauncey Billups- Guard- Detroit Pistons
Carlos Boozer- Forward- Utah Jazz
Chris Bosh- Forward- Toronto Raptors
Bruce Bowen- Forward- San Antonio Spurs
Elton Brand- Forward- Los Angeles Clippers
Kobe Bryant- Guard- Los Angeles Lakers
Tyson Chandler- Center- New Orleans Hornets
Kevin Durant- Forward- University of Texas
Kirk Hinrich- Guard- Chicago Bulls
Dwight Howard- Forward/Center- Orlando Magic
LeBron James- Foward- Cleveland Cavaliers
Antwan Jamison- Forward- Washington Wizards
Joe Johnson- Guard/Forward- Atlanta Hawks
Jason Kidd- Guard- New Jersey Nets
Shawn Marion- Forward- Phoenix Suns
Brad Miller- Center- Sacramento Kings
Mike Miller- Guard- Memphis Grizzlies
Adam Morrison- Forward- Charlotte Bobcats
Greg Oden- Center- Ohio State University
Lamar Odom- Forward- Los Angeles Lakers
Chris Paul- Guard- New Orleans Hornets
Paul Pierce- Forward/Guard- Boston Celtics
Tayshaun Prince- Forward- Detroit Pistons
J.J. Redick- Guard- Orlando Magic
Michael Redd- Guard- Milwaukee Bucks
Luke Ridnour- Guard- Seattle SuperSonics
Amare Stoudemire- Center- Phoenix Suns
Dwyane Wade- Guard- Miami Heat
Deron Williams- Guard- Utah Jazz
All of these players are extremely talented. I wouldn’t want to be the guy who had to decide which of these players I had to cut from the team. However, I have made my own mock list of who I would put on the 12 man roster, and it was pretty difficult for me to decide who to put on this little list that doesn’t mean anything. But here was the final list I came up with.
Starting FivePoint Guard- Jason Kidd
Shooting Guard- Kobe Bryant
Small Forward- LeBron James
Power Forward- Dwight Howard
Center- Amare Stoudemire
These first five guys weren’t so tough to decide on. I chose Kidd as the starting point guard because he is a guy who can dish assists to the bigger scorers and rebound as well. Also, if you get in a tight squeeze Jason Kidd can score a few baskets himself as well.
Kobe Bryant would be my choice for the starting shooting guard for the simple reason that he is Kobe Bryant. If Kobe can make the team and take those 50 and 60 point showings to the FIBA games, I think he could almost beat the opposition single-handedly. Plus there is also the fact that Kobe is a huge fan favorite, and that might raise ticket sales and publicity for the FIBA Americas games.
LeBron James is an obvious pick for the starting small forward for the USA team. Besides the fact that he was on the team last year, the way James played against the Pistons in the Eastern Conference Finals was outstanding. Although the Cavs were swept in the NBA Finals by San Antonio, LeBron has proved that he is ready to be a serious basketball power. Maybe he can be as dominate against international teams as he was against the Pistons.
Dwight Howard would make my cut as the starting power forward on Team USA. I think that Howard has established himself as a young dominate big man in the NBA, and the United States team needs a young strong big man to get down in there and scrap for rebounds. Dwight can also intimidate opponents with monster dunks and blocks. Overall I just think Howard is the best power forward who went out for the USA team.
Amare Stoudemire is the man who makes my cut for the starting center for Team USA. One reason why I chose Stoudemire for my “mock list” starting center is that in the 2006 FIBA World Championships Team USA had only one player (Brad Miller) that played center as his primary position. There were a lot of really tall power forwards, but only one guy who was listed as a center. But the main reason why I chose Stoudemire was that he is a good scoring big man who can do a lot of things. Amare can rebound, set picks well, and block shots. I think with a point guard like Jason Kidd at the point, a lot of pick-and-roll opportunities would be available. This would leave Stoudemire with a lot of easy baskets, and that might take some of the scoring load off the other scoring stars on the team like Kobe or LeBron. Also, Stoudemire is another intimidating center who just might scare other players into staying away from him.
Here are the five players who I would sit on the bench as my second-unit:
The Second UnitPoint Guard- Chauncey Billups
Shooting Guard- Dwayne Wade
Small Foward- Carmelo Anthony
Power Forward- Chris Bosh
Center- Greg Oden
I know this might seem kind of weird because I’ve sorta’ been ripping on Chauncey Billups ever since I started this blog, but he would be my choice as the back-up point guard for Team USA. My reason for this is that the team needs point guards who will be willing to sacrifice their scoring in order to dish assists instead. The team will already have enough scorers, and the team needs someone to give those scorers the ball. Billups is a good passer, and he is used to playing in an unselfish offence with the Pistons. I think Billups would be okay with sacrificing some points of his own to win a gold medal. Also, Billups is a more established point guard than other players such as Kirk Hinrich, Chris Paul, or Luke Ridnour, and you need to know what a player is capable of doing before you put him on the team. Billups is obviously capable of playing big, so that is why he is my choice for the back-up point guard.
Dwyane Wade would be my choice for the back-up shooting guard. Wade is an explosive, high energy player, who can do multiple things on both ends of the floor. Wade can score points as well as throw assists on the offensive end. Also, he can guard players tightly, block shots, grab boards, and get steals. Dwyane is a player who will make plays that will get the home crowd into the game. All in all, Wade would make a good choice to even start for Team USA, let alone come off the bench.
For the back-up small forward, I would choose Carmelo Anthony. During the NBA regular season this year, Anthony was second overall in scoring, just behind Kobe Bryant. If Carmelo had as much big game experience as LeBron James does, I would have picked him as the starting small forward instead of James. Last year, although both James and Anthony were on the USA team, Carmelo really stood out as the leader of the team and the best player on the United State’s roster. James made a lot of turnovers that hurt the team down the stretch last summer. But however, now that James has another year of basketball under his belt, and played on the biggest basketball stage in the world, the NBA Finals, I don’t think he’ll be the same international player this time around. Still, Anthony is too good of a player to keep of the roster of any team, and is a real gem to have coming in off the bench.
My choice for Team USA’s back-up power forward would have to be Chris Bosh. I see Bosh as a big man who plays like Dwight Howard, although Howard has about 35 or 40 pounds on Bosh. Bosh is a great scorer, and can pull up with a mid-range jumper as well as take it to the hole for a rim-rattling slam. I think that Bosh can do too many things for a team on both ends of the floor to keep him off the roster. He can block shots, grab boards, and score points. He will more than likely be able to free up his teammates on offense with his ability to pull up with the jump shot if he gets the ball six or eight feet from the basket, or put the ball on the floor and take it to the rim. When Bosh gets the ball, he will more than likely be double-teamed, and if he is not, then he will seize the opportunity and rip defenses apart.
Now this last pick is sort of a wild card. For the back-up center I would choose rookie Greg Oden. I think that Oden is a good shot blocker and rebounder, who is good for six or eight points off dunks and put-backs. But more than that, I want to see what Oden can do on a higher level than college. If he can get in the middle and scrap and intimidate players like he did with Ohio State, then he should be very effective for Team USA. Also, it’d be nice to see a player on Team USA who hasn’t yet made 100 million dollars.
Well, that was only ten players, and there is a maximum of 12 on a roster. Every team needs a guy or two who can come into a ball game as more than one position. These last two players are guys I picked because they can do many different things, and can also come off the bench and play more than one spot. Don’t think of these guys as the worst of the best players, just think of them as the guys that I would want to use as weapons off the bench.
The Final TwoPoint Guard- Gilbert Arenas
Small Forward- Shawn Marion
I chose Gilbert Arenas because he can come off the bench as a point guard, but he also has the size and the skills to come into a game as a two-guard as well. Gilbert can knock down threes, dish assists, as well as grab a few rebounds that come his way. I think that Arenas is a great player, and is someone that could be put into a game is the team is ever in a tight spot and score some quick points for the United States.
In Phoenix, Shawn Marion already plays in a scheme where he is used as a small forward/power forward hybrid. If he was used for Team USA in the same way, he would be in a familiar situation. Marion can get to the rim for dunks with ease, and is a tremendous rebounder for only being 6’7″. Marion could really cause opponents some grief if he was coming off the bench.
Keep in mind that this is just who I would have on the team if I were the coach. This means nothing and has nothing to do with what the final roster will be (although I hope it’s exactly the same). As soon as the final roster is announced, I’ll let you know.