Todd M. Adams
Recently, USA Basketball took a different approach to choosing its roster, giving more thought to building a cohesive team.
That is why the biggest name left off the team is bound to come from the NBA's strongest position, point guard.
For instance, the Clippers' Chauncey Billups and Thunder's Russell Westbrook, who made the 20-man cut, really have no chance at making the team.
That's because there are three phenomenal players at that position in the Clippers' Chris Paul, Nets' Deron Williams and Bulls' Derrick Rose. With no need for three point guards, probably only two will make the team, and my guess is Williams will be left off.
I see Blake Griffin standing when the musical chairs stop. Yes, international basketball rewards athleticism. However, it also rewards defensive versatility. And this is where I see Team USA officials picking the less-flashy LaMarcus Aldridge to back up Kevin Durant at power forward.
Aldridge may not be as flashy or athletic as Griffin, but he's a better overall player. He defends multiple positions, he rebounds, he's smart. Plus, Team USA has an abundance of versatile guards, so Russell Westbrook might sit because someone like Chauncey Billups might be kept because he can handle a reduced role plus play both guard positions.
I know this: These will be tough decisions.
Deserving players will no doubt be cut from the Olympic team's preliminary 20-man roster, but the bigger omissions are those not even on it.
Considering the Knicks' revival began with Amare Stoudemire, and considering the time Stoudemire spent playing for Jerry Colangelo while the USA Basketball czar was operating the Suns, the absence of the New York big man stands as a stark omission, particularly with size an ongoing concern with the rather smallish roster.
Other surprising omissions from the 20-player preliminary roster are Rajon Rondo, Zach Randolph, Al Horford, Paul Pierce and Monta Ellis, players still capable of solid numbers on the international front.
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Russell Westbrook, the speedy, 23-year-old All-Star point guard whose team has the best record this season in the NBA, will have to watch the London Olympics from the stands.
Why? The biggest talent glut on the USA hoops roster is at point guard and Westbrook, who is a road runner and offensive gunner, doesn't really play like a point — check out his miserable 5.4 assists a game average this season.
Barring injury, the point guards on the final Olympic team will be Derrick Rose, Chris Paul and Deron Williams. All are court smart, can score — and move the ball around. With all the offensive talent on Mike Krzyzewski's squad, they need a PG who doesn't want to shine in the spotlight every minute.
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