July 18, 2012; Manchester, UNITED KINGDOM; United States players including guard Kevin Durant (5) and LeBron James (6) warm up during training for the 2012 London Olympic Games warm-up match against Great Britain at the Manchester Evening News Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joe Toth-US PRESSWIRE
As the Olympics near, there hasn’t been anything to dissuade public opinion on this years United States team — they are incongruent by their very own nature, yes, but they have enough talent to skate by their competition. The ridiculous Dream Team narrative aside, Team USA is a force to be reckoned with this year and in the near future.
The competition has decreased their margin of error, though the influx of young talent will stave of the potential of an upset — for now. Spain, Russia, and Brazil pose imment threats and are the most likely teams to put a dent in their lofty goals. France and Argentina are capable of earning a medal on the strength of their NBA talent alone.
In their pursuit of international greatness, Team USA has embarked on a five-game exhibition tour before their first Olympic match against France on July 29. They’ve already imposed their will on the Dominican Republic and Brazil, winning by an average margin of 32.5 points. They’ve started off relatively slowly before improving their play incrementally. Their point margin, excluding the first quarter, has been 58 points. They’ve outscored their opponents by 24 points in the second quarter.
To combat their interior deficiency, after Dwight Howard’s back injury left an irreparable void, Team USA employs an amalgam of lineups, consisting of guards and wings with their success hinging on raw, unabashed athleticism. Those lineups hold up remarkably well defensively, though Spain and Brazil are equipped to expose those lineups with their deep frontcourts.
Against a team like Great Britain (ranked 43rd) this likely won’t be a problem. Britain will be one of the 12 Olympic squads this yeadeepen though they may it warrant selection. As they are the host country it’s at least defensible if not a tad bit unfair. But alas.
Britain will face their toughest competition yet today at 1 pm CST on ESPN2. Luol Deng notwithstanding, they isn’t much to look at on this roster. Joel Freeland and Pops Mensah-Bonsu are technically NBA caliber talent but their success can be described, at best, as transient. They’ll have a stark advantage (home-court) every game but any inestimable edge they gleam from their support will likely be offset by talent. In short: Britain will not be a viable contender at London.
Expect another dominating victory by Team USA and one that won’t change much. While a basketball game is binary by its very nature; improvement is much more abstract. The seeds of a successful team are planted now in the wake of competition. The tangible rewards, however, won’t come until much later.