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USA Basketball

As expected, Chris Paul — or Tayshaun Prince, depending on who you ask — was awarded the final spot on the Men’s Team USA Basketball squad which will be trying to win the gold medal at the Olympics in about a month or so. The roster, which was finalized and officially released today, doesn’t really have any surprises, unless you count the fact they only have two big men in Dwight Howard and Chris Bosh.

First here’s are the players for Team USA, followed by a little critique:

1. Kobe Bryant
2. LeBron James
3. Dwyane Wade
4. Carmelo Anthony
5. Dwight Howard
6. Jason Kidd
7. Chris Bosh
8. Michael Redd
9. Carlos Boozer
10. Deron Williams
11. Tayshaun Prince
12. Chris Paul

During one of his reports. ESPN scribe Chris Sheridan indicates he’d prefer Tyson Chandler over Tayshaun Prince, saying the addition of Boozer and lack of Chandler only gives Team USA three big men. I’m sorry, unlike Chris Sheridan, I don’t consider Carlos Boozer to be a “big man.” Yes, he’s 6-9 and a post player, but I’m not sure I’d include him as one of the “bigs.”

Boozer will not be guarding any centers while he’s on the floor, unless Howard and Bosh are in foul trouble. Also, I don’t recall hearing Boozer’s name come up when people are talking about defensive presences, especially in the paint. If Sheridan is worried about offense, these five forwards — Carmelo Anthony, Tayshaun Prince, Carlos Boozer, Dwight Howard and Chris Bosh — should be able to put plenty of points on the board.

If their opponents decide to zone Team USA BECAUSE of their offensive advantage down low, look for Chris Paul, Michael Redd, Kobe and Deron Williams to make their opponents pay. Conversely, if Sheridan is worried about defense, just ask Kobe Bryant how good of a defender Tayshaun is.

I bet he’d get higher marks than Boozer would. Because of that, Sheridan’s argument is wrong — or at least misguided. If he said he’d prefer Chandler over Boozer, that would be understandable. Chandler is rebounder, a shot-blocker and can run the floor like a gazelle. Carlos Boozer does only one of those things well.

Team USA opens up their Olympic play against host team China on August 10. Because of Yao Ming, this game should test Sheridan’s theory right from the start.