Saturday, August 8, 2015

Predicting Teams USA's Roster in Rio

The sports world is starting to get exciting again. For soccer fans the Premier League starts this weekend, in baseball the push to October is heating up and in football, well they're still focusing on deflated balls.... So what do I decide to write my first blog post in month will be about? The obvious answer is an international basketball tournament that is a year away.

This week Team USA announced the 34 players invited to their mini camp. If players want to be considered for the 2016 Olympics in Rio this camp is supposed to be mandatory. Just looking at that list it is easy to see that America could probably win the gold, silver and bronze if they split up their teams correctly but unfortunately only 12 players get a spot.

Before I name the roster, I would like to point out a couple snubs from the 34 man list.  Obviously in an invite list full of NBA champions and all stars there is no lack of talent, but this roster lacks youth. I would like to see a couple more guys under 25 receive invites. In 2020, there are going to be many new faces and getting some of them a couple national team practices can only help maintain the USA's dominance in the sport. Big men like Jahlil Okafor, Karl Anthony-Towns and Derrick Favors are the future in the post for Team USA with their athleticism, scoring ability and the most important trait of all, not being a Plumlee.

Luckily for Team USA, they have a number of guards and wings that likely have one more Olympics run. So no problems there, except maybe a little more love for my boy, Grayson Allen.

Time to make my picks for 2016.

Going to Rio
The only way they don't make the team is they get hurt or get bored beating Angola by 80 points.

Chris Paul, James Harden, LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Anthony Davis is the starting line up. The only one with a chance of cracking it is the reigning MVP Steph Curry but I expect the staff will give the nod to Paul and let Curry come in and beat up some international subs.

Start updating that passport

These guys are likely choices but maybe they pledge their allegiance to Putin or say they rooted for Drago in Rocky IV and have to stay home.

Blake Griffin takes the role of owning the highlight reel by dunking over foreigners and owning the boards.

At the back up wing spots, Team USA needs guys that can move to the four, if necessary, and be that spark off the bench. If I had it my way, Carmelo Anthony wouldn't touch this team. But for some reason, Paul and JAmes like the guy so he is a packaged deal.
Sorry Dwayne

The battles for the remaining spots

The first spot to look at is the third string point guard spot. Derrick rose not attending makes this spot a three man race between Russell Westbrook, John Wall and Kyrie Irving. All three bring a different style to the team. Westbrook is the athletic freak, Wall is the best of the three at setting up teammates and Iriving can be the lockdown defender in the press that USA likes to play. 

Even though I would love to unleash Westbrook on the rest of the world, Irving has a lot going for him in this race. He played under Coach K at Duke for a year, earned MVP honors at last year's FIBA World Cup and is Lebron James' teammate.

Team USA also needs a strong two guard who can knock down threes and play some defense. Ultimately, this spot comes down to Jimmy Butler and Klay Thompson. Butler is one of the most improved players in the league and his quiet attitude would be a perfect fit on the bench. Butler's shooting has improved dramatically but is still far behind Thompson, who at a moment's notice can drop 37 in one quarter on you.

The last battle is for the final big man spot. In international play the big men are less relevant because many countries play faster and in team USA's case they will likely move a lot of their big wings to a stretch four. This spot, comes down to four men. Dwight Howard, DeAndre Jordan, Andre Drummond and Boogie Cousins.

All four are supremely talented and would have no problem riding the pine to a gold medal down in Brazil. My heart wants to give this spot to Boogie. He has been part of a disaster in Sacramento his whole career and when given a chance last year in the FIBA World Cup he earned all tournament honors. 

This spot needs to go to someone who will not rock the boat though. Howard and Jordan have had problems gelling with new teammates in the past, and based on his success at the World Championships I see Drummond taking the final spot in the rotation.

The pick that will get the most good PR
Paul George has to make this team. Everyone loves a good story and even if George doesn't score a single point this season he will have earned a post on this team. George was injured in August of last year during a Team USA scrimmage. He returned late in the NBA season last year and hopefully will be back to his old self by Rio.

PG: Paul, Curry, Irving

SG: Harden, Thompson
SF: Durant, Melo, George
PF: James, Griffin

C: Davis, Drummond

Best of the rest squad:
PG: Westbrook
SG: Butler
SF: Leonard
PF: Aldridge
C: Howard

Two of these guys didn't even get a mention in the article above but imagine throwing in Beal off the bench with Wall, DeRozan and Boogie. how does that team not medal? Someone call Qatar and tell them to start buying some new citizens

Friday, March 6, 2015

Brandon Marshall on the Move... Again

The Bears new regime made their first huge player personnel decision today sending Brandon Marshall to the Jets for a reported fifth round draft pick. 

Ryan Pace is already putting his mark on the team.  He wants a new defense, better and scouts and his own players and Marshall is just the beginning of that. The much maligned receiver was Pace's predecessor's first big splash so it shouldn't come as a shock that he is the first to go.

Marshall was a breath of fresh air for a franchise that had not had a true number one receiver in some time before his arrival but it was time for him to leave. He is 31 years old, has gone through multiple hip surgeries and seems to be more focused on his TV career than his game.

Replacing his production will be difficult, Alshon Jeffery will need to step up while he looks for a new contract and we will see if Marquess Wilson can live up to the potential the previous coaching regime would gush about. It appears the Bears are already looking to the free agent market to help the passing game.

Now, all eyes will be on what Pace and company does with the almost $4 million in cap savings this trade provides. The signing of Jimmy Clausen today likely puts a stop to the rumors of signing Jake Locker or another quarterback.

Make sure to vote in the poll on the right and let me know what you thought about the move in the comments below.

As a bonus you can also listen to my podcast recorded before all this news went down where I preview my thoughts on the free agency market for the Bears and potential first round draft picks.