With the Rio 2016 Olympics coming up in about a month some teams are still trying to get in (more on that later). But for the teams that have already purchased their tickets to Brazil it's time to make their final cuts. The potential Gold Medal winning nation, the United State of America, will always be the favorite because -- duh. Though a mix of players needing off-season rest, injuries, family situations, upcoming free agencies, or other non-descriptive fears, have made the Team USA juggernaut into something that isn't really at their best.
The final picks were made and the team is comprised as such:
- Point Guards: (CLE), (TOR)
(OKC), (GSW), (IND), (NYK), (CHI), (TOR)
- Bigmen: DeMarcus Cousins (SAC), (LAC)
- Possibly Awful: (GSW)
The Last cuts for the team included saying goodbye to Michael Conley, Rudy Gay, , , and Kevin Love. The bigger issue here has been all the players who were "Injured" ( , , , , and ), or "withdrew" ( , , , , , , , , and the ' own ).,
The one thing that should jump out here is that ALL of the players are either future Hall of Famers, All-NBA Players, All-Stars, or at the very least, starters on Championship Contenders. All of them, of course, except for Hayward. Hayward turned down a chance to be more well known and better regarded. He turned down a chance to be in that upper echelon. He turned down a chance to get some good calls in the next season by serving his country, and thus, helping his team (the Jazz) get some more cred late in games -- where so many games were lost last year.
He turned it all down because he had a valid reason -- he and his wife are expecting their second child during the Olympics, and it's not cool to not be there for that.
It's just really bad timing. I don't think Team USA calls again because he wasn't there when they needed him. I do miss having a team led by star players. I'm not crazy about trying to win a title without even one star. That's where we Utah Jazz fans sit today, if we believe that the Jazz are actually trying to win a title. But that's just Jazz talk -- back to Team USA.
America has the best talent and deepest talent pool. They are going "all-in" on being able to play smaller guys at the four, and will do so with Melo, KD, PG13, and of course, Dray all seeing time there. Harrison will get some time there too, but I think Hayward is just as capable.
If there's a problem it's going to be that the Americans don't have a ton of shooting talent at the wing.and Irving are great when they are making shots. And almost everyone else on the team, except Jordan, can make a three. But only Thompson is a real reliable threat out there if Durant is handling the ball and creating. (If not, then you have at least two absolute pin-down floor spacers.)
I don't know if this is going to be a problem, with their overall talent level being so much higher than the rest of the world combined. But it will be something to look at. I'm not silly enough to think that Hayward would have solved that problem, he's no. I do feel as though other teams may have more clearly defined roles to their players. Having a clear strategy is always better than winging it.
Team USA, as currently comprised, is winging it. (Pun somewhat intended.)
As for the other teams still trying to make it, the 2016 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament is starting in about a week. It's split up into three locations (Serbia, the Philippines, and Italy) and there are 18 teams looking for three spots. The top winner after all the dust as settled from each group goes on. The teams to keep an eye on will be:
- Serbia Group: Serbia, Puerto Rico
- Philippines Group: France, Turkey, Canada, New Zealand
- Italy Group: Croatia, Greece, Mexico
I think that Serbia has the easiest draw. But that's just me. It may be all for naught, as two of these three teams will be joining the Olympic Group that contains Team USA in it. And that may not be worth it, regardless of who Team USA selects.