The headline is a tease. Team USA will not lose a game in the Rio Olympics.
That's the case even though the likes of LeBron James, Stephen Curry and Russell Westbrook didn't make the trip. After offering some level of resistance over the last decade or so, the rest of the world has fallen behind. For countries like Argentina, the 2004 Gold Medalists, and Spain, strides made because of the likes of Manu Ginobili and Pau Gasol have almost disappeared because the next generation has yet to rise up.
The U.S. could send their entire roster home, take the next 12 off the list and still win gold. That's the landscape.
However, upsets do happen and in a one-and-done scenario as is the case with the medal rounds, you just never know. Well, we do, but you get the point. If some other country's announcer channels Al Michael with their version of "Do you believe in miracles", then here's what went wrong.
3. Kyle Lowry gets hurt, into foul trouble - Based on pure talent, the Raptors point guard isn't the best player on the roster or even top five. Yet as the only true pont guard on the roster, he's perhaps the most important.
Sorry, Cleveland fans. Kyrie Irving is not a true point guard and certainly isn't in the context of what a thrown together team needs. Even if you count Irving based on the most basic of reasons -- he'll dribble the ball up the court -- it's actually rather stunning that the powers-that-be only went with two point guards considering the positional importance in general and for this event. Now, Curry, Westbrook, Chris Paul, Damian Lillard and Wizards star John Wall are all out for various reasons. That hurt the options, but still, going with a Mike Conley or even Shaun Livingston would have made more sense than tacking another wing. Yes, that means you, Harrison Barnes.
Now, if Lowry has some issue that takes him off the court, USA will survive. Draymond Green is a point-forward. The offense can run through Paul George or Kevin Durant. Still, having a true floor leader is ideal and basically the roster has just one.
2. Vive la France - Based on overall rosters, Spain's group, led by Gasol, Ricky Rubio, Nikola Mirotic, Jose Calderon and one-time Wizards pick Juan Carlos Navarro, probably has the second best roster behind the U.S. Yet without the injured Marc Gasol, there's little upside on the aging roster. France isn't very deep, but there's a group there that could shock the world.
Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert is a shot-blocking savant. The versatile Nicolas Batum was at his stat-stuffing best with Charlotte last season. Tony Parker and Boris Diaw are on the back-nine of their careers, but the San Antonio teammates are savvy and know the international game. Guard Nando De Colo has NBA experience.
Any five-man unit Team USA uses trumps that group and the real discrepency comes when comparing depth. But if France's main men can play ironman basketball and Gobert controls the lane and the U.S. misses shots...
1. The crusie ship the U.S. team is staying on during the Olympics gets swept away and ends up on Gilligan's Island - Again, the U.S. is winning gold. However, at least three items make a list. We needed a third. Now we have a list.
By the way, here's handy dandy list all those with NBA connections beyond Team USA playing in the Olympics. Ex-Wizard Nene is of course playing for his native Brazil. George Washington guard Patricio Garino, who recently signed with the Spurs, is on the Argentina roster.
71 of 144 men's basketball players going to Rio are either current, former or future NBA players. pic.twitter.com/CpwwAL7IBo— Matt Ellentuck (@mellentuck) August 2, 2016
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