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Olympics 2008: Project Redemption

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by user Wtt02005

Olympic dreams of capturing gold were more akin to reality ever since NBA players represented the USA basketball team. The 1992 Dream Team in which the average margin of victory was forty points and head coach Chuck Daly never called a single timeout was a testament to the superiority of American basketball. USA would continue to dominate basketball in following games until the Athens Olympics in 2004. The USA team captured a disappointing bronze and was considered by many failures. Two reasons accounted for the outcome: the world basketball teams vastly improved and the group selected were chosen based on individual skill. As a result, the USA incurred heavy losses to foreign ball clubs that played as a team. USA basketball had dominated for so long that not much thought was taken to select an Olympic squad.

Now knowing that the Olympic team can no longer be composed of just the best players but role players as well, a committee under Jerry Colangelo has decided to undertake the responsibility of creating a team that will commit to three years, compete in the World Championship and the Beijing Olympics, and restore USA’s basketball reputation. Last week, twenty-three players were selected to compete for the twelve spots. Project Redemption had begun.

Great Selections

I honestly do not believe there is anything to debate for these players. They have been NBA All-stars and will be suitable veterans if they make the squad.

Good Selections

Each player has only played in the league for 1-3 years. If the team were to compete this year, I definitely would not want them on the team because of a lack of experience. However, in three years, these guys will be the next generation’s all-stars. Bosh and Howard will continue to average nearly 20 pts and 10 rebounds a game, playing like Garnett and Duncan. Lebron may be the next Jordan with his all-around game. Dwayne Wade’s polished dribbling skills will probably be next to none. Finally, Carmelo Anthony’s shooting touch may be nearly flawless in the years to come. I do not mind any of these guys making the team except Carmelo. Bosh and Howard are both rebounding and scoring machines, Lebron can do everything, Wade can play a point guard and penetrate inside the lane, but Carmelo can basically just score. Other players can score on this team, so Carmelo may be the one left out.

Bruce Bowen

Most people are probably like “Who?” when it comes to Bruce Bowen. Considered an underrated defender, Bowen will be the oldest member at age 35 in three years. Despite his age, he was chosen as a “defensive specialist” and for veteran leadership. He does not score, and I believe that is what Colangelo wants. He could have selected Artest, but Artest demands the ball. Bowen merely just defends with the occasional three-point shot. I think he will be a valuable asset in three years despite his age because he usually guards the other team’s best player. Many people in the NBA claim he harasses players illegally but gets away with it; well, if his defense is not going to hurt us, we’ll take it, right?

Joe Johnson

For some reason, I think his selection was mainly determined by his performance this year. In the summer, Johnson made an emphatic departure to the Atlanta Hawks, disgusted with the Suns expecting him to be the fourth scoring option behind Nash, Stoudemire, and Marion. Johnson felt he was a much bigger component in the Suns 62-20 season. Because management did not believe so, Johnson went to Atlanta where he had sub-par numbers the first few games. The Suns, having acquired a quality player in Boris Diaw in the trade, seemed to have garnered the bigger profit in the trade. All of a sudden, Johnson begins to flirt with the triple-double every game. Granted, the Hawks are so terrible that any decent player can have amazing averages (Antoine Walker comes to mind) but the difference is that the Hawks have won games because of Johnson. He has already accumulated a few game winners. The most importance of which was the shot that beat the nearly flawless Pistons team. Johnson has revived the franchise which is still lottery bound but may have a future. His play this year resulted in his selection. He can be a good candidate for the team because he can play numerous positions.

Chris Paul

Surprisingly, this rookie from the Hornets was chosen to represent the team and has not even completed his first NBA year. I honestly believe he is a much better candidate than Ridnour because his scoring and assists are much higher (16.2 and 8.0). Unlike Ridnour, Paul is playing like an all-star and deserves to be on the roster.

Poor Selections

Shane Battier

Like many other Memphis Grizzlies before him, Battier has switched from starter to bench player from game to game. As a result, his numbers have wavered throughout his career. On average, Battier does a little bit of everything, averaging 10.2 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 1.8 assists. He may be the very definition of mediocrity. I honestly do not know why he was chosen. Many of the players were chosen because they specialized in a certain field, not because they could do a little bit of everything.

Luke Ridnour

The oddball in this Olympic pool, Luke Ridnour is a guard from the Seattle Supersonics. I believe he was chosen because he shows promise and could be extremely competent in three years. Ridnour has yet to play at an all-star level. His numbers are mediocre; he averages 11.7 points and 6.9 assists this year as the starting point guard. All point guards have similar, if not more, assists but tend to score more. Currently, many are questioning why Ridnour was chosen and not Iverson. I honestly believe Iverson, who competed in the last Olympics, should have been chosen. Ridnour will have more chances. Iverson may not have another Olympics. However, the Olympics are about winning for the USA team and Colangelo honestly believes Ridnour was not chosen over Iverson but for what he can give the team. Of course, I am not sure what he provides that the other guards cannot.

J.J. Reddick/Adam Morrison

Despite having yet to play a single game as professionals, the hot shooter from Duke and the Foo Fightereque center from Gonzaga were chosen. Those these two guys are definitely NBA bound, I definitely am not excited about their selections. When these two enter the NBA, they could be flops. This may have something to do with college guru Mike Krzyzekski coaching the team; hopefully, he knows what he is doing.

Antawn Jamison

Another twenty point, 10 rebound threat, Jamison will be 33 in 2008. He will probably have to compete against players like Howard, Bosh, and Brand. Currently, those three play as well as him and are younger, so I could definitely see him not making the cut. He has had an illustrious career but at times, finds himself in shooting slumps. He also happens to not be as explosive as his days with Golden State and is fading out. That microfracture knee surgery may be showing its effects. Currently playing for Washington, the only news buzz about that team is Gilbert Arenas. Arenas is carrying the team, so I honestly think Jamison’s days are almost up. In a sense, he is like Chris Webber. Webber is still putting up great numbers, 19.9 points and 10.0 rebounds, but he is running out of gas and playing second fiddle to Iverson. By the time Jamison is 33, he may be in the same boat.

Nearly half this team is young with not much experience. This is to be expected as Colangelo plans to have this guys play together for three years. The players need to be in their primes for the USA squad to have the best chance of reclaiming its glory. I think some selections were ridiculous, especially Reddick and Morrison, but I have confidence in the team. They definitely selected a decent amount of role players to complement the all-stars and show a shift towards team play. However, I honestly believe that a team composted of strictly all-stars could beat out the rest of the competition, provided they had years to practice together.


Mon 03/20/06, 1:51 am EST

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