July 18, 2012; Manchester, UNITED KINGDOM; United States forward LeBron James (6) and guard Kevin Durant (5) sit on the bench 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
Against a team that boasts only one legitimate NBA talent — Luol Deng — the United States made a couple of minor alterations. They inserted Deron Williams and Kevin Durant in lieu of Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony and, as expected, didn’t miss a beat. Britain wasn’t the best competition as they allowed the US to score 118 points. The final margin was 40 points.
This comes with the territory of playing with the best talent in the world. As talented as Spain may be, their talent level doesn’t belong in the same stratosphere. Their success stems from continuity, a balanced roster and a better equipped roster for international play. But talent wise there is, and hasn’t been for awhile, no competitors that can match the raw talent level of Team USA.
Only Team USA has the luxury of substituting two elite talents for two elite talents. Durant and Williams arguably form a better tandem than Anthony and Paul anyway.
As expected Great Britain was exposed as a low ranked team fortunate to play on the Olympic stage. Team USA blitzed them in the first half with their unrelenting pressure defense, which created easy opportunities. At the half, Britain was down 18 points.
The numbers exhibited the precipitous difference between the two teams. The United States assisted on 18 of their 20 field goal attempts. They also shot 56% from the field. Defensively, they created 12 steals. There was nothing — either tangible or intangible — that could possibly suggest Britain had the upper hand.
The gap never closed; it widened as their inexperience and talent disparity finally gnawed at Britain who, to their credit, looked competitive in the first half. Deron Williams put the game to rest with 11 consecutive points to begin the second half, forcing Britain to call a timeout to alleviate the run.
The timeout merely prolonged their inevitable defeat. Behind Williams, who finished with 19 points on 7-of-8 shooting, the Americans outscored their competition by 16 points in the third quarter.
The final frame resembled a glorified Summer League game when both teams emptied their benches. Other than Deng, Pops Mensah-Bonsu and Andrew Sullivan, nothing of significance materialized. Mensah-Bonsu, especially, forced the American defense to defend the low post. Britain did win the free throw department as Mensah-Bonsu attempted 12 free throws.
Even when the team employed the considerably less taxing 2-3 zone; the United States continued to get decent looks. Anthony Davis scored 11 points in garbage duty. We learned from his limited stint that he can play off the pick-and-roll capably, allowing the ball handler to draw a couple of defenders before darting for an easy dunk.
As Team USA nears Olympic play they’ll have the luxury to make some more alterations to the rotation with relative impunity. They have essentially seven players capable of starting — at least. In all likelihood, the actual starting lineup will be irrelevant. Because if today showed any indication — Durant, Paul, Williams, whatever — they can create upwards of 26 turnovers with any lineup construction.
Which is a pretty scary thought.