Back in April when the first waves of defections off the USA Basketballroster took place, I took a stab at projectingthe final men's basketball Olympic roster.Now that Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Derrick Rose have joined Dwight Howardand LaMarcus Aldridge on the sidelines, another projection is required. Sincethe actual 12-man roster will be revealed during a televised announcement onSaturday night, my final projection comes now.For starters, here's the way I saw things nearly three months ago..Forward: Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, Kevin Durant, LeBronJamesGuard: Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade,Russell Westbrook, Deron WilliamsCenter: Tyson Chandler, Kevin LoveScratch Rose (knee) and Wade (upcoming knee surgery) from the roster along with Bosh, whosuffered an abdominal injury during the Miami Heat's run to the NBA title. Everyone else is good to go. Team USA is therefore loaded in the backcourtand on the wings, but light inside and could use another perimeter shooter.The final three spots come down to six players: Blake Griffin, AndreIguodala, Rudy Gay, Eric Gordon, James Harden and Anthony Davis, thelast two added to the main core after the spate of bumps and bruises (andworse). Though any combination would not be surprising, let's break it downinto the likely position battles...Backcourt, Gordon vs. Harden...A career 37 percent shooterfrom beyond the 3-point arc, Gordon is an obvious fit especially in theinternational game. Obviously, the likes of Bryant, Love and Williams have deeprange, but only Durant compares to the four-year guard as a pure shooter.Harden has familiarity with two already on the team - his Thunder teammatesDurant and Westbrook . The craftybearded onehas shown the ability to blend in as arole player, a nice niche on a team loaded with alpha males. Of the variousbattles, I see this pair making it over the others, but...advantage,Gordon.Small forward, Gay vs. Iguodala...If Coach K wants anotherwing scorer, Gay is the call. If the feeling is the roster lacks a defensivepresence on the perimeter, the 76ers star gets the nod. On a team with Durant,Bryant, Anthony not to mention James and a host of leading scorer candidates onany given night (not counting Chandler), offense is not an issue. Seems clearif it's a true head-to-head, the pick should be the guy best equipped when itcomes to stopping others from scoring...advantage, Iguodala.Inside force, Griffin vs. Davis...Considering only Chandlerand Love classify as true big men, it's seems like a lock one of these twomake the final cut. It's just not the one you would expect. Yes, Griffin's NBAprofile as a ferocious dunker makesthe Poster Childa nightly highlight real fixture andone reportsuggests his spot among the final 12 is secure. That's fine, but I'd gowith the shot blocking kid with the famous unibrow. Even if Davis does notscore a single point, his presence as a defender and rebounder outweighsanything Griffin, inconsistent in both of those areas, is likely to contribute.Unless the Kentucky product's injured ankle is worse than expected...advantage,Davis.
Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre, Jr. and the Washington Wizards battle Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, J.J. Redick and the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday night.
Here is all you need to know: TV, live stream and radio info, tip-off time, plus three things to watch:
WASHINGTON WIZARDS VS. PHILADELPHIA 76ERS
Where: Capital One Arena
Tip-off: 8 p.m.
TV: NBC Sports Washington (coverage begins at 7 p.m.)
Live stream: NBCSportsWashington.com
Radio: 1500 AM
The Wizards continue their difficult stretch coming out of the All-Star break against a very dangerous Sixers team. Philly has proven to be very streaky this season, but right now they are rolling. They come to Washington having won their last seven games dating back to Feb. 6 when they beat the Wizards at the Wells Fargo Center. The Wizards are also playing well, having won eight of their last 11, despite their loss to the Hornets on Friday.
The Sixers are currently seventh in the East and appear on track to make the playoffs. If they keep rising the standings, they could meet the Wizards, who are currently fourth, in the first round.
Speaking of the playoffs, this game could end up looming large for postseason seeding. The Sixers have won two of the three matchups between these teams this year. If they win on Sunday, they will take the season series and own the tiebreaker over Washington.
If the two teams tie head-to-head and end up with the same record at the end of the season, it will then come down to conference record. The Sixers currently have a better record against East teams than the Wizards. But if they can beat Philly this time, the Wizards will have a chance to secure the conference tiebreaker down the stretch of this season.
Sixers are tough to guard
The Wizards have found out the hard way this season just how difficult it can be to match up with the Sixers, who are led by two emerging stars in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Embiid is 7-foot-1 with rare abilities to stretch the floor and beat opponents off the dribble. Simmons is 6-foot-10, yet can lead the fastbreak with rare speed and vision to find his teammates with crisp passes.
The mobility for their size is almost unmatched and it has not been easy for the Wizards to answer. In their last meeting earlier this month, Simmons had 15 points, eight assists, six rebounds and three steals. Embiid had 27 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks. The Wizards have to try to limit those guys while also dealing with other challenges like Robert Covington, Dario Saric and J.J. Reddick.
RELATED: LATEST NBA POWER RANKING
Instead of visiting the White House when they come to Washington this week to play the Wizards, the defending-champion Golden State Warriors plan to hold an event with D.C.-area kids.
Their invitation was rescinded by president Donald Trump following a back-and-forth between the two sides last year. After the Warriors won the title, they openly questioned whether they should follow the tradition given many of the players and coaches disagree with his policies. Trump took the opportunity away before they came to a final decision.
PODCAST: WIZARDS MAKE A FREE AGENT SIGNING
The Warriors' event will be closed off to the media and held at an undisclosed location. It is set for Tuesday, the day before they play the Wizards at Capital One Arena. The Warriors had the option of holding a ceremony with other politicians in the Democratic party, but decided that would send the wrong message.
"It's their championship. They got disinvited to the White House, so it's up to them what they wanted to do. So they made their plans," coach Steve Kerr said. "I want the players to have a good day and to do something positive and to enjoy what they're doing."
The Warriors are the first NBA team to make this choice since Trump was elected president. Last season, the Cleveland Cavaliers held their celebration with president Barack Obama in November. They did so just days after Trump was elected and LeBron James questioned at the time whether he would visit the White House with Trump in office.
Sports teams visiting the White House goes back to the mid-1800s. The first World Series title team to visit was the 1924 Washington Senators. By the 1960s, NBA teams were going and by the 1980s NFL and NHL teams made it a tradition.
Entire teams snubbing the White House is unusual, but many players have turned down the opportunity. In the NBA, some famous cases include Larry Bird in 1984 and Michael Jordan in 1991, according to Rolling Stone.
Perhaps the Warriors start a trend, or maybe it will be a one-off thing. Regardless, the alternative they chose is a respectable one.
RELATED: LATEST NBA POWER RANKINGS