Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Team USA: The undeserving favorites
By Henry Abbott
Coach Mike Krzyzewski and Team USA are on the court in Las Vegas to begin preparations for the World Championships that begin August 28 in Turkey.
The players still in the mix for the national team include Kevin Durant, who is a virtual lock to be the team's high scorer. Others in the mix include Chauncey Billups, Rajon Rondo, Brook Lopez, Tyreke Evans, Stephen Curry, Andre Iguodala, Derrick Rose, Kevin Love, Gerald Wallace and Russell Westbrook.
But the list of those who are in the USA basketball program, but not present this summer, is a veritable who's who of basketball: LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, Dwight Howard, Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Chris Bosh, Carmelo Anthony ... the list goes on.
Never fear, say the oddsmakers, who have pegged the U.S. as overwhelming favorites nonetheless.
M. Haubs of the Painted Area finds that shocking, and actually thinks the U.S. should be considered underdogs to Spain.
In a quick analysis of past U.S. rosters, he finds U.S. teams with as few superstars as this one have almost never won international tournaments. When they did, the competition was not nearly as stiff as it will be this time (even though Spain will be without Pau Gasol).
Haubs provides a buffet of reasons why international teams do not have to match the U.S. player for player. They have certain inherent advantages, including mastery of the international rules, team cohesion from years of development as a national team, and broad scouting knowledge of the other teams in the tournament.
His analysis is well worth a look, and concludes: "I'm certainly not counting out the U.S., but to me as of today, the signs point to Spain being the favorites to win gold, and extend a remarkable national sporting run including Rafael Nadal's Grand Slam titles, Pau Gasol's NBA championships, FIBA gold medals at the 2006 Worlds and 2009 EuroBasket plus silvers at the 2007 EuroBasket and 2008 Olympics, and football championships at the 2008 Euro and 2010 FIFA World Cup."