The USA roster for the 2016 Olympic Games has been announced and many people are feeling a bit flat or slightly disappointed. Team USA are still clear favourites for the tournament and they should have more than enough in their locker to claim the Gold in Rio but when you look back on the initial roster or what players may have been included, you can’t help but feel that this is a B-team or certainly lesser side representing America in Brazil this summer.
The final 12 player roster for Team USA this summer is:
- PG: Kyrie Irving, Kyle Lowry
- SG: Klay Thompson, Jimmy Butler, DeMar DeRozan
- SF: Kevin Durant, Paul George, Harrison Barnes
- PF: Carmelo Anthony, Draymond Green
- C: DeMarcus Cousins, DeAndre Jordan
It would be wrong to say that the squad is devoid of stars or lacking in top talent. This isn’t the case though because there are some big names heading to Brazil. Carmelo Anthony already has two Olympic Gold medals in his pocket so he knows what it takes to triumph at these tournaments. He will be joined by players like Kevin Durant and Paul George who are at the height of their powers, so there should be more than enough in the American camp to take on any opponent that comes their way.
However, as soon as you look through that list, it is inevitable that you start to think about the players that aren’t heading to Brazil this summer. We all know that the Olympics isn’t the most important thing for the top NBA players but it is a chance to grab another medal and have some fun in a very different setting.
The absence of James and Curry is a big blow for Team USA
It is inevitable that many people will look at the absence of LeBron James and Steph Curry. With the NBA Finals going to 7 games and the fate and hopes of their teams resting squarely on their shoulders, you can see why both players will be keen to rest. James should be spending a good chunk of his summer celebrating bringing a title to Cleveland while Steph Curry has been dealing with injuries and the biggest disappointment of his career so far. Both of these players know that they will be in the spotlight next season and will want to be at their best. LeBron will have to shrug off comments that he has peaked and everything else after dragging Cleveland to a win is downhill while Curry will need to show that he and the Warriors can bounce back.
The two players will also be in very different psychological places. When LeBron came back to Cleveland, he was determined to end the city’s long wait for a title, which he did at the second attempt. Steph Curry knows that people will only use the record breaking season as an excuse to criticise the Warriors for failing to do the job. The Golden State Warriors need to bounce back this season with the NBA title or people will refer to them as one season wonders that failed to live up to expectations. With this in mind, you can see why these two players have decided to give the 2016 Olympic Games a miss.
This is still a very strong USA squad
This is still a team with a good pedigree. There are nine 2016 All-Star players in the squad, which is the same amount of All-Star players who were involved in the 2008 and 2012 squads. Anthony has two Gold medals as does Kevin Durant and four of the players in the squad were part of the team that won the 2014 World Cup. Irving, Thompson, DeRozan and Cousins are the four players that were involved in clinching the 2014 triumph, an event that is on a par with the Olympics and there are also four players in the squad who have won the NBA Championship in their career.
This isn’t meant to be offensive to players who haven’t played in the NBA and of course, in a team game some players can be more important than others but Irving, Thompson, Barnes and Green have all been players in a team that clinched the biggest prize in basketball. If a player can handle the tension of the NBA Playoffs and come away with the big prize, they should have no fear about making their way to the Olympics and delivering big performances.
Another problem for the current USA Olympics squad is that it will be compared to previous squads. The 1992 Dream Team squad is obviously an unbelievably high benchmark but even the 2012 squad had enough good players that the media genuinely discussed if they could have defeated the 1992 Dream Team. There is no way to judge or properly compare teams from different eras but when players like LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Westbrook, Harden and Bryant came together to ensure the squad was packed to the brim with quality players.
While the 2016 team should be more than good enough to take care of business in Brazil, it isn’t a squad that will get fans excited and ensure that everyone pulls together to back Team USA. The team of 1992 was under immense pressure to win every game by at least 30 points and they actually managed to live up to this billing, beating this and reaching an average of 44 points per victory. Even the final game, which saw the US team pushed harder than they had been at any point in the tournament, USA won by 32 points to clinch the Gold medal.
Team USA will remain clear favourites for the tournament and their odds will still probably be so prohibitive that a straight bet on them to win the tournament isn’t as appealing as people would hope for. However, you may find that some of their opponents fancy their chances of running them close, so when it comes to basketball betting, individual games featuring the USA may offer some exciting opportunities.