August 15, 2012

Projecting the 2012 U.S. Olympic Basketball Team

In Athens, just two Olympic Games ago, the U.S. was the major story in international basketball, not because of their continued dominance in the sport, but because of their shocking downfall. The same country that had run roughshod over the world in 1992, 1996, and 2000 had dropped off to bronze medal status, mostly due to massive roster turnover and our country’s lackadaisical approach to international hoops.

Now, eight years later, all that has changed. Gone is the apathy from our countries best and brightest. Gone is the damaging roster turnover that sapped the team of any and all chemistry. In its place stands a true international program, with solid leadership entrenched at the top and committed players on the floor. Over the last two Olympics, the U.S. has once again taken its place as basketball’s head, winning the last two gold medals in dominating fashion. As an American, I can say that I am extremely proud of the men who represented us in 2012. Congratulations, guys. 

Going forward, though, there will be changes. Major changes, potentially, starting with Coach K. The Olympics was his last go-round with Team USA, and the program will now have to deal with its first leadership vacuum since coming together post-2004. If that weren’t enough, the team could potentially see its first significant roster turnover as well. Age will obviously keep some out, as can only be expected, but long tenured members like Lebron James might also choose to bow out, feeling they’ve done enough on the international stage. 

That having been said, it would be shocking if Team USA fell into their pre-Redeem Team malaise. There is far too much young talent available to them, and far too much infrastructure to not mold them into a cohesive unit by 2016. And even though 2016 is a full four years away, it’s never too early to speculate on what that future gold medal winning team will look like:

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