Team USA, as expected, won the Gold Medal in Men’s Basketball. With players like Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and Kevin Durant on the roster, it would have been a major shock and disappointment for Team USA to not win Gold. And while the games just ended, it’s not too early to look ahead at the potential roster for the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
Fans of USA of basketball should remember that Mike Krzyzewski will not be back in 2016. He’s won two gold medals, so what else is there for him to do anyway? His tenure as coach of Team USA is over, and he will go back to solely focusing on his Duke Blue Devils. Doc Rivers is considered the current favorite, but other candidates like Greg Popovich of the Spurs, Doug Collins of the 76ers, and Billy Donovan of Florida are likely to be considered.
The roster will change – that is certain. Each position could potentially have new, younger faces on the roster. And for all we know, the “23 and under” rule will be in effect by then, changing the whole landscape of Olympic basketball. But assuming that rule doesn’t come to fruition, let’s take a look at the potential 2016 Olympic Roster, position by position.
2012 Olympians: Russell Westbrook (age 27 in 2016), Deron Williams (age 31), Chris Paul (age 31)
2016 Possibilities: Derrick Rose (age 27 in 2016), Kyrie Irving (age 24), Rajon Rondo (age 30), Stephan Curry (age 27)
Analysis: This group of point guards played well. They got the job done, and were never really outmatched. They were the perfect compliment to the scoring wings, which what was needed. Jerry Colangelo, the GM of USA Basketball, will have to decide if he wants to stay with his Olympic veterans (Williams and Paul) or go young with Irving and/or Rose.
2016 Roster Prediction: I’m willing to bet Colangelo goes young. Westbrook will stay on, and be backed up by Irving and Rose. Irving, especially, is an intriguing prospect. He impressed in scrimmages against Team USA, and it’s likely he’ll be top three-point guard in four years. Don’t be surprised if he’s the starter in Rio.
2012 Olympians: Kobe Bryant (age 37), James Harden (age 26)
2016 Possibilities: Eric Gordon (age 27), Dwayne Wade (age 34), Tyreke Evans (age 26), Joe Johnson (age 35)
Analysis: Bryant has already said that he is retiring from international competition, so he’s out of the question. With Wade’s aggressive style, I doubt his body will up for a long summer of basketball in four years. And out of the others, Gordon is the best long-term prospect.
2016 Roster Prediction: Harden stays on the roster, and becomes the starter for Team USA. The backup position comes down to Gordon and Evans, with Gordon winning out. Without Kobe, the position is the weakest on the roster.
2012 Olympians: LeBron James (age 31), Kevin Durant (age 27), Andre Iguodala (age 32), Carmelo Anthony (age 32)
2016 Possibilities: Danny Granger (age 33), Rudy Gay (age 29)
Analysis: This is deepest position for the Americans. All four 2012 Olympians could stay on, and it’s likely that they do. They all played incredibly well, and with no young stud waiting in the wings, I’m expecting this group back for Rio. If one were to be dropped, however, I’d expect it to be Iguodala.
2016 Roster Prediction: The roster will be trimmed down to three to make room for an extra big. Iguodala is the odd man out, and the trio of James, Durant, and Anthony is the scoring juggernaut of Team USA.
2012 Olympians: Kevin Love (age 27)
2016 Possibilities: Chris Bosh (age 32), Blake Griffin (age 27), LaMarcus Aldridge (age 31)
Analysis: Kevin Love is awesome. He played a key role for Team USA, and I’d be shocked if he wasn’t back in four years. LeBron was essentially his backup, and while he can play there, look for Colangelo to add depth to this position for 2016. With Bosh on the wrong side of 30, Griffin is the logical choice.
2016 Roster Prediction: Love and Griffin make a great duo that is a handful for other teams. LeBron continues to play the four at times, with Love shifting to the five. Griffin, in his first Olympics, adds to mass highlight reel of Team USA with his monstrous dunking ability and other skills.
2012 Olympians: Tyson Chandler (age 33), Anthony Davis (age 23)
Analysis: This position had me nervous in London. Chandler is a solid player and all but the Americans were beat up by the Gasol brothers in the Gold Medal game. Assuming Howard and Bynum are healthy in 2016, they’ll be a welcome addition to the roster, especially since they’ll both be in their primes. Expect Davis to stay on as well.
2016 Roster Prediction: Center is second strongest position on Team USA’s roster behind small forward. Howard, Bynum, and Davis are a trio that no one in the world can even hope to match.
The 2016 roster, at it’s maximum potential, could make for a much better team than the 2012 squad team. It’ll be deeper up front, maintain its scoring ability, and probably be better on defense. It’ll be the perfect mix of youth and established NBA superstars. Kind of like the 1992 team, but not quite that good.