Team USA opens the 2012 Olympics against one of the top contenders, team France. The French have six NBA players on their roster which is second most (tied with Spain) among Olympic squads. France could’ve had four more NBA players on their roster (Rodrigue Beaubois, Ian Mahinmi, Mickael Pietrus and Joakim Noah) but they sat out due to various ailments and personal reasons.
Frontcourt: Sizewise, team USA matches up very well against the French. In fact, this is one of the few times where team USA will have the size advantage – the tallest player for France is Kevin Seraphin (6’9’’). LeBron James should be able to easily bulldoze his way through the lane en route to many highlight reel worthy plays. Turiaf, Diaw and Seraphin are great role players in the NBA, but I doubt many would consider them stars. Team USA’s star studded line-up of Love, Chandler, James and Durant should be able to dominate. I would even reckon that rookie Anthony Davis will eventually develop into a better player than France’s entire frontcourt.
Backcourt: Parker and Batum are the two best players on the French squad. Parker is a top tier point guard who has three NBA championships under his belt. Team France will depend on Parker to run the offense and drive into the lane. Luckily team USA has elite on ball defenders in Chris Paul and Westbrook, who are probably the top two defensive point guards in the world. Batum is a talented up and coming wing player who recently signed a 4 year / $45 million contract with the Blazers. He has the length and athleticism necessary to defend the athletes that Team USA has. However, Batum is just one person and he’ll be hard pressed to stop the plethora of talent that Team USA has in the wing (Carmelo, Kobe, Harden, Iguodala).
Keys to Victory:
Defensive Intensity – Team USA must really enjoy playing with one another since they’re all insanely athletic and very talented. Obviously, they’re the overwhelming favorite to take the gold and they should play like they deserve it. Hopefully Team USA sets the tone early and suffocates France with defensive pressure. As the elder statesmen on the team, Kobe sets the bar with his tireless work ethic and competitive intensity. I’d love to see Kobe welcome De Colo to the Olympics by putting the clamps on him.
Run, Run, Run – This year’s Olympic squad is built around athleticism – gravity defying jumping and blazing speed. Team USA can run with a small line-up with LeBron at the four and Love at the five. Love can also camp out beyond the arc and open up the floor with his superb three point shooting. Every player on this roster is great in transition and they should definitely utilize this to their advantage. The basic blueprint for this team should be to suffocate opposing teams with defensive pressure, force turnovers and run like there is no tomorrow. This should be an entertaining game to start off Team USA’s march to repeat as world champions.
USA vs France
6:30 AM PST, July 28, 2012
Basketball Arena, London, England
TV: NBC Sports
France Projected Starting Line-up
PG: Tony Parker
SG: Nando De Colo
SF: Nicholas Batum
PF: Boris Diaw
C: Kevin Seraphin
Key Reserves: PF Ronny Turiaf