Still the favorite
The injuries to Dwight Howard, Derrick Rose, LaMarcus Aldridge and Chauncey Billups hurt the United States' chances to repeat as Olympic champs, but Team USA still should be considered the favorite.
The biggest problem for the U.S. is Howard's back injury, because it leaves the Americans with just one 7-footer, the Knicks' Tyson Chandler. Chandler is a superb defender, but he's not as good as Howard. And big men Pau Gasol and Marc Gasol play for Spain, a perennial contender for Olympic gold.
Rose was the NBA's MVP in 2010-11, but he's arguably not as good an international-play point guard as Chris Paul or Deron Williams. Both Paul and Williams are better outside shooters.
Going to be tough task
This is a tricky debate because the U.S. is supposed to win despite the circumstances. But injuries and the lockout-shortened season could have a strong effect on Team USA's performance. After a grinding schedule and playoffs, many of the players will be thinking nothing but vacation.
Instead, they must now muster enough strength to represent the country. It's unrealistic to think the players are going to be fresh enough during the Olympics. On top of that, injuries to players such as Derrick Rose will only thin the roster.
They usually place an asterisk next to any team that wins an NBA title during a lockout season. Maybe they should add that to the 2012 Olympic team because winning gold in London is going to be a tough task.
U.S. has enough firepower
Granted, the compressed NBA season has claimed its share of casualties. And, sure, the gap between U.S. basketball and the rest of the world has closed considerably.
However, as long as names like Kobe and LeBron and D-Wade don the red, white and blue, Team USA has plenty of firepower to win gold in London.
Spain is formidable. So is France. An aging Argentinian team has the band together for one final run. But the commitment and accountability Coach K and Jerry Colangelo have extracted from multimillion-dollar athletes has been impressive.
Team USA has depth, athleticism and defense in abundance. It lacks perimeter shooting but should be able to get into transition often enough to prevail.
USA has nothing to fear
Los Angeles Times
Derrick Rose won't play basketball anytime soon, Dwight Howard's back is bumming him out and NBA players are still recovering from 66 games in 121 nights (and that's just the regular season), but Team USA has nothing to fear.
Other countries have experienced the same fatigue and injury issues, and they don't have nearly as much depth.
Take Spain, for example.
Team USA's main competition will be without Ricky Rubio (knee injury) and must feature Pau Gasol, who looked incredibly fatigued/saddened/disheartened while averaging 12.5 points and shooting a dismal 43 percent in the playoffs for the Lakers.
Injured Team USA hopefuls Chauncey Billups and LaMarcus Aldridge can relax. So can U.S. basketball fans. The gold medal will still be theirs in London.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun