The United States of America has ruled Olympic basketball, and the 2016 roster looks very capable of continuing that trend. The implementation of professional basketball players in 1992 sparked what has become an exciting time in U.S.A basketball. It all started with the dream team in 1992, which consisted of 11 hall of fame players and gave people around the world a view of the greatest basketball team ever assembled. Since 1992, The U.S.A has won the gold medal in every Olympics except the 2004 Olympics. The 2004 Olympics was a highly disappointing year, and the current team will look to not duplicate this embarrassing performance.
The 2016 team seems like they will be very competitive in this competition, and are the favorites to bring home the gold medal. There are a lot of new faces on the 2016 team compared to the 2012 team. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it is disappointing to see that LeBron James did not want to be a part of this team. He's been to the last six NBA Finals and wants to take a break this summer. Still, this team seems stacked enough to take home another gold medal for the USA.
Defense seems to be the teams best skill. The team also possesses a plethora of different scoring options, and this team will be capable of shooting threes, driving to the basket, and scoring down low in the paint. We'll have to see how the coaching staff approaches this tournament.
There are so many great players and all four coaches are very accomplished, but which player is the best?
17 Monty Williams
Monty Williams is coming off an associate coaching stint with the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Thunder's season ended with a collapse in the Western Conference Finals after blowing a 3-1 series lead. Before his job with the Thunder, he was the head coach of the New Orleans Pelicans and his team improved over his five years with them, but he was ultimately fired following a first round exit in 2015. His record with the Pelicans ended at 173-221 as well as a 2-8 record in the playoffs. Considering the Pelicans tumbled to last place this year, it might not have been Williams' fault looking back.
Williams is going to get his first chance to win an Olympic gold medal this summer. Once he returns to the States, his future in the NBA is uncertain, as he's yet to find a coaching job for the 2016-17 season. In any event, he brings something to the table for USA Basketball.
16 Tom Thibodeau
Tom Thibodeau's NBA teams are never the most exciting to watch, as his system revolves around sound defense, but with the roster the way it is heading into the Olympics, it makes Thibodeau a good fit. Thibodeau won an NBA Championship as an assistant coach with the Boston Celics in 2008 and a couple of years, later he was given the head coaching job in Chicago. Thibodeau won coach of the year in 2011 when he led the Bulls to a 62-20 record, but they would fall to the Miami Heat in the playoffs, and would regularly come up short against the Heat in the playoffs. Thibodeau's reign in Chicago was spoiled by the constant injury issues with Derrick Rose and after a disappointing 2014-15 season, he was let go.
He'll be taking over the Timberwolves head coaching job this fall and hopefully he's able to return home from Rio with a gold medal to show his new team.
15 Jim Boeheim
The coaching staff is made up of two head coaches from NCAA Division I, an NBA associate coach and an NBA head coach. Jim Boeheim of Syracuse comes in at no.2 due to his success with the Syracuse Orange. Boeheim has led the Orange to a national championship back in 2003 and with 988 wins, will undoubtedly surpass 1,000 wins this coming season. Boeheim has announced he will retire from coaching in 2018, so this will be his last Olympics.
He's already been inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. Boeheim is getting his first and final opportunity to coach at the Olympics. He has been on hand for several FIBA World Championships, but never the chance to help bring home a gold medal for his country.
His career winning percentage as a head coach stands at .741 and he undoubtedly brings a lot to the table in Rio.
14 Mike Krzyzewski
It's no surprise here that the head coach would outrank the rest, but Mike Krzyzewski would probably also outrank any NBA coach who wanted to coach this squad. Coach K is the most decorated head coach in NCAA history. He's led the Duke Blue Devils to five championships, 12 Final Fours, 12 ACC Regular Season Titles and 13 ACC Tournament championships. He's also coached the men's Olympic team since 2008, when the Redeem Team made up for their 2004 embarrassment with a gold medal in Beijing. The United States then successfully defended their gold in London in 2012.
USA Basketball undoubtedly made the right call in keeping Coach K to lead this team going into Rio and there's no reason to believe he can't do it again in 2020, barring some sort of catastrophic performance in Rio this month. We'll see if Coach K adds a fifth gold medal to his resume, as he also has two as an assistant coach, going back to 1984 and 1992.
12 Harrison Barnes
Harrison Barnes is now a member of the Dallas Mavericks after signing a lucrative contract with the team during the 2016 NBA offseason. He has many qualities that will help the U.S Olympic team excel in Rio this summer. One of the qualities of the entire U.S Olympic teams in the past is their ability to disrupt other nations defensively. Barnes has the potential and the stature to be a lockdown defender for this team, and his long arms will allow him to give opposing players a tough time getting off shots. Barnes likely will not be a big component of opposing team’s game plans. This will allow him most likely to not be as much of a defensive focus compared to other players on the team, and because of opposing teams defensive game plans he may have a lot more open shots than most of the other star players on the U.S team.
11 Klay Thompson
Klay Thompson is a member of the Golden States Warriors, and is a part of the duo referred to as the splash brothers. He is not an overly great defender, but his skill should help team USA score at a proficient rate. Thompson has the ability to get on hot streaks at any time in a game. In the the recent past Thompson has put on performances where he has scored over 20 points in a quarter, and he has even exceeded 30 points before in a quarter. Thompson is one of the best shooters in the world. He will be the recipient of many drive and kick outs and pick and pops this summer. He is not one of the main weapons on team USA, and this should give Klay Thompson a lot of open shots compared to others on the team. Klay Thompson's game is important for this team because three point shooting has never been more important in the game of basketball than now.
10 Jimmy Butler
Jimmy Butler is a member of the Chicago Bulls, and in 2012 not many could have predicted he would be a player capable of making the 2016 U.S Olympic basketball team. The small forward out of Marquette has greatly improved his game at a rapid pace. He is now one of the best scoring options in the NBA. Butler is also an exceptional on the ball defender, and should give opposing wing players fits in Rio. Butler also can contribute as a capable passer and rebounder for his size. He grabbed five rebounds and five assists a game during the 2015-2016 NBA season for the Bulls, and his hardworking mentality will be on constant display during the 2016 Olympics. If he can score at a high rate and be a pest on defense the way he has irritated opposing ball handlers in the NBA, the U.S should have no problems disrupting other countries star wing players.
9 Kyle Lowry
Kyle Lowry is a member of the Toronto Raptors, and has become one of the best point guards in the NBA after it seemed like he would be a career journeyman. Lowry is often not highlighted for his defensive abilities despite averaging two steals a game last season. This aspect of his game is not highlighted because of his dynamic play on the offensive end, and his ability to be a great team leader for the up and coming Raptors. Lowry is very good at penetrating defenses and scoring at the basket. He is extremely crafty with the ball, and has greatly improved his shooting over the years. Last season Lowry shot an impressive 39% from three which is three percentage points higher than his career average. Lowry will have the ability to drive to the basket and kick it out to the many members of the roster who can knock down threes, and will also be the beneficiary of receiving passes for open threes all throughout the month of August.
8 DeAndre Jordan
Deandre Jordan is a member of the Los Angeles Clippers, and is perhaps the most limited offensively compared to every other player on the U.S Olympic basketball team. He will be extremely disruptive on the defensive end of the floor. His athleticism is unlike any others, and this athleticism allowed him to block two shots a game and alter many other shots. The other aspect of his game in which he dominates at is rebounding the basketball. Last season he grabbed nearly 14 rebounds per game, and these rebounds came on the defensive and offensive glass. Although he is offensively limited his ability to grab offensive rebounds gives Jordan easy layup opportunities. Most of the lob passes thrown by the members of the U.S Olympic team will more than likely be directed towards Jordan, and even if the pass is a little off target Jordan will be able to gather it and make a highlight play out of it.
7 Draymond Green
Draymond Green is a member of the Golden State Warriors, and like many of the other players on this team USA roster he has a variety of skills. Throughout his career he has been a triple double machine. Just last season he averaged 14 points, nine rebounds, and seven assists per game. He will play a major role in rebounding the basketball for this team, and his ability to find open teammates will result in a lot of open shots. Green also is one of the best players in the world when it comes to setting screens for pick and rolls, pick and pops, or off the ball screens to get teammates open for easy scoring opportunities. Versatile defense is another key component of Draymond Green’s game, and the ability to defended centers and power forwards will help team USA in creating all different types of line ups on the floor.
6 DeMar DeRozan
Demar Derozen is a member of the Toronto Raptors, and after signing a new contract with the team he has become a very rich man. He also can provide something that team USA always wants more of and that is defense. He is very athletically gifted and his athleticism should allow him to keep up with anyone who has to face him. His athleticism on the defensive side of the ball also correlates to the way he plays on offense. Derozan is great at slashing to the basket and finishing strong, but that is not the only way he can beat you. His jump shot has improved every year he has been in the NBA, and he now even has the ability to knock down three pointers. He averaged nearly 24 points per game during the 2015-2016 NBA season. His equal abilities on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball will allow him to be productive when his name is called upon.
5 Kyrie Irving
Kyrie Irving is a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers, and just recently won his first NBA championship. He is one of the few players on this roster that is not a great defender. Despite his lack of defensive prowess, Irving has a variety of different ways to cause havoc on opposing teams defenses. Many believe that he is one of the best dribblers in the NBA, and this helps him in getting open lanes to the basket frequently during game time. Driving to the basket is not the only skill that Kyrie possesses in his bag of tricks. During the 2016 NBA finals Irving converted the game winning three pointer that put the Cavaliers ahead for good, and his ability to both drive to the basket and shoot at a consistent rate makes him hard to guard. Kyrie Irving’s ability to shoot makes defenders have to guard him tightly, but this opens him up to use his speed to drive to the basket for an easy basket.
4 DeMarcus Cousins
Demarcus Cousins is a member of the Sacramento Kings, and he is the only viable player that is even still on the roster. He is arguably the best center in the NBA. The only problem that surrounds Cousins is his attitude, and he is often referred to as a coach killer. When it comes to scoring in the paint, few are able to stand in his way, and he bullies opposing defenders seemingly on a nightly basis. Cousins also possess a nice mid-range game. The center is thought to be a dying position in the NBA, but Cousins was one of the best scorers in the NBA during the 2015-2016 NBA season averaging 27 points a night for a poor Sacramento Kings team. He is also a beast on the boards, and should give international big man nightmares in Rio.
3 Carmelo Anthony
Carmelo Anthony is a member of the New York Knicks, and many believe that Anthony plays his best when playing for the U.S Olympic team. Carmelo Anthony can score in a variety of ways. He has the ability to knock down the mid-range jump shots. He is also not a bad three point shooter, and can also score in the paint. When he possess the ball in or around the paint he bullies opposing small or power forwards, and has the ability of going straight to the basket or making a turnaround jump shot. The most fascinating aspect of Carmelo Anthony game when he plays for the Olympic team is his defensive abilities. When playing for the Knicks he does not seem to be an adequate defender, but against other international competition he thrives on defense. This makes Anthony one of the most important players on the U.S Olympic basketball team.
2 Paul George
Paul George is a member of the Indiana Pacers, and is very happy to be playing on the 2016 U.S Olympic team. He severely injured his leg in an exhibition game that was put together by the Olympic committee, and the injury was so gruesome that many wondered if George would ever be able to play at the same level that he played at pre injury. George is now playing at a higher level arguably than before his injury. The athleticism that George put on a nightly display helped the Pacers make the playoffs during the 2015-2016 NBA season, and his 23 points and seven rebounds per game played a major role in the Pacers making it into the post season. Like many of the other players on this roster he is just as good on defense as he is on offense. George should be able to keep on playing at a high level this summer for the Olympic team in hopes of winning a gold medal.
1 Kevin Durant
Kevin Durant is now a member of the Golden State Warriors, and made the biggest headlines during the 2016 NBA offseason by joining what is now being called a super team. Kevin Durant is arguably one of the five best basketball players in the world. There are so many ways in which he will play such a big time role if the U.S Olympic team plans on winning the gold medal this summer. Durant’s athleticism allows him to guard wing players and power forwards, and his multi-faceted bag of tricks on the offensive side of the floor will cause many problems for opposing teams. Durant averaged 28 points per game last season. He did his damage by hitting threes and mid-range jumpers, and slashing to the basket with authority. His ability to score in large quantities will be one of the key factors in team USA’s ability to be an offensive juggernaut.
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