2012 U.S. Olympic Basketball: What Would An Under-23 Team Look Like?


There’s been a lot of talk over the past few days about if the 2012 Olympic team could beat the 1992 Dream Team.

It’s been so contagious that the debate even found it’s way onto my site.

The frustrating part is that we’ll never really know who would win. We could take a guess and even if it’s something that the other guys in the place disagree with, there’s no way to know who’s right or wrong. It’s the best and worst part of having an argument about who would win a hypothetical series between two teams that played 20 years apart.

Some people feel like the NBA players are facing a bit of a no-win situation lately. If they win, it’s because they were supposed to and if they lose, then it’s an embarrassment to the team and their country.

Some have even suggested that America goes back to the late-80s era Olympic teams, and taking the best under-23 talent to try and win the Gold Medal.

Sounds kinda crazy, right? If you’ve only known the NBA players dominating the Olympics, then trying to imagine anything else is weird.

But how would that team fare? There are a lot of good players in America and you could argue that an under-23 team would win the Gold Medal just like the team that we’re sending to London this year.

You aren’t going to believe this, but we investigated this a little further.

Without further ado, this is the Beale Street Bears’ under-23 Olympic team that would compete for the Gold in the 2012 Olympics.

Guards: Russell Westbrook, Derrick Rose, James Harden, Eric Gordon, John Wall, Kyrie Irving, Steph Curry, Tyreke Evans.

Plenty of awesome guys here. You can literally pick your favorite five, and that backcourt would be the best in the World.

If I had to pick though, I’d go with Rose because he’s the 2011 MVP and the best player of a strong player list. To back him up, I’d go with Westbrook. His skill set is a little redundant with Rose, but he’s great and could carry the second unit of the U.S. team.

At shooting guard, Harden is a lock mainly because he’s already on the existing team and would be a perfect combo guard that can handle it or play the off guard at a moment’s notice. Backing him up would be Eric Gordon who didn’t play a lot this past season, but is a great shooter and has Team USA experience from the summer of 2010.

The fifth guard would have to be Steph Curry as his ability to handle the ball, but still shoot lights out would be an asset for any team. Curry would start for most other countries, but may play 10 minutes a night on this team.

As an injury replacement for the hurt MVP, I think Kyrie Irving makes sense. His game is different from Westbrook’s game and he was phenomenal for the Cavs last year. The preference would obviously be to have a healthy Rose, but in 2012, it’s just not reality.

Forwards: Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin, Kevin Love, Anthony Davis, Paul George.

The first three names are no-brainers, at least they should be. Quite simply, they’re three of the best players in the game and we’d be lucky to catch them in this window at the same time.

Durant or Rose would be the go-to guy on this team, with Durant able to stretch the floor for whoever he plays with. A Love/Griffin forward/center combo would control the glass and you could play them together because Love can shoot the three and Blake likes to play in the paint.

Davis and George may be surprising names, but they shouldn’t be. Some say that Davis projects as an NBA center when his body fills out, but he could be a Duncan-esque power forward if he plays that position.

George had a huge year for the Pacers this season and would be the team’s de facto defensive stopper. Basically, if Ricky Rubio or Dirk Nowitzki starts going off, George can step in and put the brakes on. He’s not a Scottie Pippen-type defender, but he’s the best eligible guy on the list. He can shoot it a little bit too, for good measure.

Center- Boogie Cousins, Greg Monroe.

Boogie Cousins has gotten a reputation as a bit of a head case and coach-killer in his short NBA career, but internationally, he’d be a wonderful asset. He can score in the post, he blocks shots, he rebounds. He plays like an actual post player.

Honestly, Cousins is one of the most important young Americans in the league right now. If he gets it figured out and Dwight Howard is still playing well in four years, then the U.S. will have a formidable twin tower situation. If he keeps up the uneven play, the Americans remain vulnerable.

Monroe was close to the only other option as a back-up center. In reality, he probably wouldn’t play a lot, but his size and passing ability make him an interesting option here.

So David Stern has mentioned going for an under-23 team and while it wouldn’ thave as many big names and certain Hall-of-Famers as the actual team, it would more than hold it’s own. In fact, I’m not sure this team doesn’t win the Gold Medal this year.