USA Basketball Still Loaded For London Olympics, Despite Injuries
NY Times’ Greg Bishop on Team USA’s roster uncertainties after injuries to Derrick Rose and Dwight Howard:
Despite the rash of injuries that has shrunk the pool of players for the United States men’s basketball team at the London Games, including the loss of two potential starters in Dwight Howard and Derrick Rose, USA Basketball’s chairman, Jerry Colangelo, said Monday that the pool remained deep enough and talented enough for the United States to remain the Olympic favorite.
Colangelo said this was a result of the system he had put in place and developed, along with Coach Mike Krzyzewski, since they took over the national program in 2005. There are enough talented players, Colangelo said, that the 2012 USA Basketball Select team, which was announced Monday and will practice against the Olympic team in training camp in early July, included John Wall, Kyrie Irving, DeMarcus Cousins and Jeremy Lin, the Knicks guard who was among the most discussed athletes of this sports season. That team could contend for a medal by itself.
Such an abundance of elite players, Colangelo said, was and is the point of the revamped system, which will be tested as the United States, even without several hobbled players, looks to defend the gold medal it won at the Beijing Games.
“In a perfect world, we wouldn’t have any injuries,” Colangelo said. “But injuries have already eliminated some players. Circumstances might eliminate others. That’s the whole concept of having a pool. That’s why it works. By way of example, I’m intrigued by Anthony Davis.”
Davis won a national championship at Kentucky this season and is projected as the No. 1 overall pick in the N.B.A. draft in June.
Colangelo said Davis reminded him of Kevin Durant and his situation before the last Olympics, in that Colangelo wanted to get Durant into the program whether or not he turned professional after his freshman year at Texas in 2006. Durant, Colangelo said, almost made that Olympic team, just as Davis could make this one.
Regardless, both players will be important pieces for USA Basketball for years, in part because they have difficult-to-duplicate skill sets.
“Durant was an incredible player in the world championships; he has been an incredible player in the N.B.A.,” Colangelo said. “I see Davis in the same situation, but as a different kind of player. He also brings certain things to the table, length, shot-block ability; he’s a good passer. He could make things interesting in terms of our decisions.”