David Stern wants it. Mark Cuban wants it. Most of his fellow NBA owners want it.
At his pre-finals press conference, David Stern again said he wants the Olympic basketball program to start following the soccer model — under-23. There would be one World Cup every four years with no age restrictions, but the Olympics would be for the young set. We’ll see if he can convince FIBA and other nations this is a good idea. But it poses an interesting question:
What would an under-23 Team USA look like for the London Olympics?
Gold medal good.
Matt Norlander at CBSSports.com put together a list to get me thinking (some are 23 now but would qualify under international rules), and Ben Standig of CSNWashington.com has done one as well. I’ve tweaked those and will give you my starting five and key subs.
Team USA under-23 starting five:
Point Guard: Derrick Rose. Well, it would be Rose except his knee is blown out so…
Russell Westbrook. You can spare me you’re “he shoots to much and doesn’t pass” crap, the guy assisted 29 percent of his teammates baskets when he was on the floor this past season, and that was down from years past. The guy gets to the rack and if you take away his shot he’ll set guys up. He’s an elite athlete. How many people around the globe can cover him? Exactly.
Shooting Guard: Eric Gordon. Remember he played a surprisingly big role for Team USA at the World Championships in Turkey and could do so again in London because he can knock down shots from about Ireland. Good defender, smart team player, can play in transition or knock down jumpers. Best young two guard in the game.
Small Forward: Kevin Durant. Do I really need to explain this? The best pure scorer walking the planet right now (better than LeBron, by a whisker) and a solid team defender. A leader.
Power Forward: Kevin Love. He has a game perfectly suited for international basketball because he can rebound, is the best outlet passer in the game and can shoot from the parking lot and knock it down. He’s going to play a big role in London as it is.
Center: Anthony Davis. You want a long, agile shot blocker for the international game, one that can run the floor. Davis is all those things right now — a freak of nature. For the NBA game it will take a couple years for him to get his offense where it needs to be, but for his “defense and rebounding” role on this team, perfect fit.
Bench players: Kyrie Irving, James Harden, Stephen Curry, Bradley Beal (the guy can play and shoot), Blake Griffin,Kenneth Faried, DeMarcus Cousins.
You telling me that team isn’t winning the gold? That team might win the gold against a full slate of regular London players.