Although it won’t be officiallly announced until Monday, it’s been made a known fact that Tayshaun Prince was selected for the United States Olympic team over the Hornets’ Tyson Chandler. ESPN’s Chris Sheridan thinks that the brains behind Team USA made the wrong selection. If Sheridan had argued that Chandler is a better player than Prince, then I think he’d have a better argument. I’m sill not sure that he’d be right, but Chandler does happen to be one of the best rebounders and shot blockers in the NBA and he can get up and down the floor as fast or faster than any big man in the world. Not a bad guy to have on the team. Sheridan’s reasoning, though, is that they aren’t taking enough size with them to China and the three-man post rotation of Dwight Howard, Chris Bosh and Carlos Boozer isn’t enough to contend with the foreign bigs that will be looking to draw fouls. I disagree.
I think that this roster gives the United States their best chance at a gold medal since they last won one at the Sydney Olympics in 2000. Why? Because of the versatility that they’ve put together with this roster – the main reason that they’re bringing Prince along. While it might be true that they are only taking those three NBA big men, Team USA has the luxury of having guys who can play the 4 in international basketball. Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James are more dominant players with the ball in their hands and defending on the perimeter in the NBA. But, they have the bodies to defend the power forward position at the international level and the offensive game to thrive as a “4” under these rules.
One of the many things that has killed the Americans in the last three World Championships and Olympics is their poor fundamentals on the offensive end and tendency to get bogged down in half court sets with poor passing and lack of movement. This versatility that they’re stockpiling will eliminate that problem. By playing Carmelo or especially LeBron James at the international equivalent of the power forward spot, they’ve placed one of the best passers and all around unstoppable players on the planet to their achilles heel position – without giving up any size. Just picture a lineup of Chris Paul at the point, Dwight Howard inside, Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade on the perimeter, all running the offense through a passing point forward like LeBron James. It gives me a sports boner. The only way that lineup could be stopped was if martians came down and sucked all of the talent out of NBA Players and then made Team USA play with Looney Tunes. And, if they want to contend this time, they better make sure they take Jordan’s talent too and leave Shawn Bradley alone.
Basically, Chris Sheridan is wrong. Or at least I think so. Tyson Chandler might be a stud and just as good as Tayshaun Prince. But, if there is anyone on this roster that he should be replacing, it’s Carlos Boozer. Tayshaun brings versatility and versatility is going to finally bring us another gold medal. Now, if we could just find a way to replace that rat of a coach.