The 2012 team is the best we've seen since the Dream Team, and people are forgetting that. Everyone's afraid that because the US is worse than the Dream Team and international play is better, Team USA could have a tough time getting the gold medal. The Dream Team slaughtered it's opposition by over 48 points per game. The US has to get a lot worse and international play has to get a lot better before we need to start worrying.
Although the team is short on big men, they still have Kevin Love, who just averaged more points than anyone on the Dream Team besides Karl Malone and Michael Jordan (using their 1991-92 season numbers) and averaged more rebounds than anyone on the Dream Team. In addition, Team USA has the reigning Defensive Player of the Year down low.
The team's perimeter players are probably even better than the Dream Team's (keep in mind Magic was retired from the NBA and Bird was at the end of his career).
Who is there to be afraid of? Spain? Seriously? I'm not for one second afraid of the Gasol brothers, who averaged 16 points and 9.7 rebounds between the two of them last season. "Oh but they have Ibaka now!" I don't care. He couldn't handle the Heat in the NBA Finals, he can't handle Team USA.
The fact of the matter is, Spain's best player (Pau Gasol) would be the 9th or 10th best player on Team USA. Guys like Marc Gasol and Ibaka wouldn't make even make the team. Other starters like Rudy Fernandez and Juan Carlos Navarro wouldn't even be in consideration for the USA Select Team. Just because they have some NBA players doesn't mean that they're a threat to Team USA. None of them are even the best players on their NBA teams. Team USA has the best players from the best league in the entire world. We should coast our way through the summer to a gold medal.
So why even watch Team USA and their Olympic domination?
When Team USA wins that gold medal game, regardless of how easy it is, it's going to feel good. When that game is over, we know that we are still the greatest basketball nation in the world. It feels especially good these days, when other countries think their teams actually have a shot at winning. "Watch out for Spain," "Watch out for Argentina." They're all excited to take down the USA, but we'll just put the greatest players in the world on the court let them know it's not quite their time. I know that we lost in 2004, but Stephon Marbury led that team in assists, so we all know that team was a joke.
It is possible that things could go wrong for Team USA, especially in a tournament that includes three rounds of single elimination. However, there's no way that Team USA should be able to let things go wrong. If LeBron is having an off night, lean on Durant. If they're both having an off night, lean on Kobe. If the whole damn starting lineup is having an off night, lean on Melo and Love. It goes on and on.
No one should be able to come close to beating Team USA, and if they do, we've got the greatest closer since MJ in Kobe Bryant to finish them off.
Mark your calendars: at about noon on Sunday, August 12th, Team USA will prove to be the best basketball team in the world.