With the Redeem Team winning gold this past weekend, the harsh reality of no meaningful basketball being played over the next couple months sets in. So let's take a look at which players might compose the next USA basketball team at the World Championships in Turkey in 2010 and at the London Olympics in 2012. Remember, this is all theoretical guesswork...
- Jason Kidd - Definitely out, as his age showed.
- Kobe Bryant - Now in his 30s, it does not make sense for Kobe to wear himself out during summers.
- Carlos Boozer - An NBA All-Star who does not seem to fit in well in the international game, a la Tim Duncan
- Tayshaun Prince - An invaluable defender and rebounder who did the little things, but will the team bring back an aging veteran at that point?
- Dwyane Wade - This is the most important question mark. Wade was the unexpected star of these Olympics, a key cog off the bench that was constantly attacking the basket, drawing fouls, and anticipating passes and making steals on defense. Wade would be the perfect replacement for Kobe's shooting guard spot, but health concerns may drive him off the team.
- Michael Redd - FIBA is moving the three point line farther back after these Olympics, so USA will need a sharpshooter to combat zone defenses. Plus, Redd's professionalism and likability is well known.
- Carmelo Anthony - The most versatile player of the USA team loves the international game as he can shoot, handle, post up, and bang on the inside. Carmelo has already stated that he wants to return.
- Lebron James - The face of the NBA will have the opportunity to become the leader of USA hoops and cement his status as the best player in the world by then.
- Chris Bosh - Unexpectedly became the team's best interior big man, running the floor and making many quick plays.
- Chris Paul - Showed off his quickness and speed throughout the Olympics, and will only get better as he gets accustomed to the international game and splitting those zones. Paul closed out the final games on the floor, so there is no doubt that he will be the starting point guard with Kidd gone.
- Deron Williams - A strong point guard that had some great showings in the exhibitions, and will be a good compliment to Paul.
- Dwight Howard - Will forever be a beast that no one in the world can defend. The zone defenses tend to limit him offensively, but he is perfect to take up space on the lane and block some shots on defense. Off penetration and a dish, there is no one more intimidating that can finish stronger. Howard has already said he wants to return.
- Kevin Durant - The only sure fire lock to make the next USA team happens to the rookie of the year. Durant will fit in perfectly in the international game because of his length and versatility. His problem of not being strong enough in the NBA is less of an issue internationally as most players defending him will be around the same size, but he will be more athletic than them.
- Rodney Stuckey - Impressed during the Vegas exhibitions and has the mentality that a young USA team will need.
- LaMarcus Aldridge - Versatile big man who can step out and shoot, but, like Boozer, is a question mark when it comes to adjusting to international play.
- Derrick Rose / Russell Westbrook / Jerryd Bayless - The team is set with Paul and Williams as its point guards, but may choose to bring along a third if one of these develops well enough.
- Tyson Chandler / Greg Oden - You know Chris Paul was looking to lob it up to Chandler every time he penetrated. Oden would provide the team with more size, not to mention a markatable character that would make the team so much more fun and likable.
So there we have it. The next "insert rhyme word here-eem" Team will have a starting lineup of something like Paul, Durant, Lebron, Melo, and Howard. The bench will hold over Williams, Redd, Bosh, and bring on the rest of the newcomers.
Is this better than the Redeem Team? Can this team survive the other improving teams? Guess we will find out in a couple years...