For what it’s worth, here are my rankings (in descending order) of the Team USA players I’d most want on my team if I were an NBA GM. This list includes the withdrawn Rajon Rondo and is based on how these players perform in the NBA, rather than how their games translate to international basketball.
13. Tyson Chandler – At his best, Chandler was an alley-oop catching fiend who could play solid D. It’s too bad for Dallas that his best is probably behind him.
12. Eric Gordon – The worst guard on Team USA’s final roster, which is a back-handed insult (if that term doesn’t exist, it should). He can shoot and score, but 6’3″ shooting guards aren’t exactly ideal.
11. Kevin Love – Yeah, he’s the best outlet passer in the world. He’s skilled too. But he’s not athletic enough nor as defensively inclined as I want my big men to be.
10. Stephen Curry – I like Curry’s future. I like his present, too. But he’s not nearly as established as some of the guys on his team. And being coached by Don Nelson hasn’t exactly helped him become a suffocating defender.
9. Danny Granger – It’s tough to tell how good Granger really is. Not because Indiana’s not on TV a lot: I’m an NBA fiend, so I clearly have League Pass. Because he puts up good stats on a bad team. Is he really as good as his play suggests, or is he this generation’s Shareef Abdur-Rahim? Granger himself said that if Coach K wants to focus on defense, Granger isn’t his best bet.
8. Chauncey Billups – Billups is a tough player to rate. He’s called Mr. Big Shot, but he seems to miss a lot of big shots. He seems a little over the hill, but he just had the best statistical season of his career. All he does is win, win, win no matter what, but if I had to bet I’d say his winningest days are behind him.
7. Lamar Odom – What Odom lacks in production, he makes up for in versatility. He can play inside or out, handle the ball, post up, shoot threes (kind of), rebound, and pass. You can win with players like Lamar, even if he does disappear once in a while.
6. Russell Westbrook – It’s actually tough for me to put Westbrook this low. In the shadow of Kevin Durant, Westbrook has quietly become the league’s most under-appreciated young star. The man can flat-out play.
5/4. Rudy Gay/Andre Iguodala – Do I take Gay’s scoring and outside shot, or Iggy’s defense and ridiculously well-rounded game? I can’t decide. I’d take either on my team. Duh.
3. Derrick Rose – It’s hard to argue with brute strength, “Did you see that?” athleticism and 21, 6 and 4 production. Simply put, Rose is one of the best in the business. The Chris Paul/Deron Williams duo can hear his footsteps.
2. Rajon Rondo – Derrick Rose is fantastic. So are a lot of other point guards on the roster. But there are two words to describe why I’d prefer Rondo to any of the others: 1) Defense, and 2) Ring. Rondo was the best player on a team that just came within six or seven minutes of winning an NBA championship. He can dominate games on either end. He improves by leaps and bounds every year. Yup, he’s my number two pick.
1. Kevin Durant – No explanation necessary. I don’t think anyone would argue that he’s the face of Team USA, as well as the NBA’s next big thing. The Humble Assassin can play on my team any day.