Friday, October 19, 2007

Team USA Talk’s Chris Mannix speculates about one of my favorite subjects: USA Basketball.

After a stellar performance at the FIBA Americas tournament, the opportunity to reclaim the Olympic gold medal is well within the United States' grasp. Players recognize it too, which is why the competition for spots on the U.S. team is going to be as fierce as it has ever been.

"It's going to be a battle," Bucks guard Michael Redd told me last week. "This is a big Olympics, a big chance for everyone. But I welcome the competition. It's going to make everyone who makes the team better."

The gist of the article is that roster spots for Beijing are in high demand. And there are some big names that are potentially going to be in the mix that didn’t play this summer, like Dwyane Wade, Gilbert Arenas, Carlos Boozer, and Elton Brand.

Michael Redd’s spot should be safe after delivering excellent numbers in his shooting specialty role:

FG%: .667
3PT%: .453
FT%: 1.000

Tyson Chandler and Mike Miller are the popular picks to not return. Dwyane Wade and Carlos Boozer are the likeliest choices to replace them. Tayshaun Prince, Chauncey Billups, and Deron Williams are probably the only others who are in realdanger, and all three of them played well.

If there isn’t room for three points guards, Billups might be the one to go, as Williams picked up where he left off in his coming out party in the playoffs, accumulating as many assists as Jason Kidd (46) in 16 fewer minutes in the FIBA’s. Billups has high-pressure experience and success including a Finals MVP, and his reputation as a tough defender working in his favor, but Team USA obviously isn't afraid to go young and Williams might be the better choice, especially after another year of improvement.

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