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Dreaming of Team USA's future

As linked to in Wednesday's Notes, Henry Abbott wrote a terrific piece about the future of Team USA. If you think it's too early to consider such things, well, it's quite simply not. The 2010 World Championships are just around the corner, and building a team, as we've learned, takes time.

The thought, competition, and scrutiny that goes into creating national soccer teams is incredible. Basketball is following that path.

There are plentiful questions, like whether the LeBron/Kobe/Wade troika will sign on again. James already said he'll only play if Kidd does, and Kidd should not and will not. Kobe, while not old, might want to save energy to win the NBA title without Shaq he wants so badly. Wade's all-out style also might not agree with four more years of intense summer ball.

Plus, they already accomplished the mission of restoring order in the basketball world with the gold in Beijing. There is a lot to lose in the next two tournaments, and only a little to gain.

That said, here are my roster thoughts going forward.

Return, pretty please

LeBron James: Some are holding off on anointing him the greatest player in the world. Not I. In 2010 and 2012, he'll absolutely be the most dominant basketball force, and the most important player to Team USA success.

Kobe Bryant: Recruited to save USA Basketball, and did just that against Spain in the fourth quarter of the gold medal match.

Chris Paul: Best point guard on the planet will be 25 and 27 years old in the next two major competitions.

Dwyane Wade: Leaped back into the forefront of stardom. Wade played pressure defense and ignited transition offense, the places where Team USA differentiated itself in Biejing.

Deron Williams: Formed a dynamite two-headed point guard attack off the bench with Paul, and showed nice chemistry on the court with CP3 as well. Only will improve in next four years.

Chris Bosh: A relative unknown among superstars, Bosh established himself as the team's best post player on both ends of the court in Beijing. His 77.4 % field goal percentage was absurd, but his 86.2 % free-throw percentage was perhaps even more comforting.

Dwight Howard: Mobility makes him a nice fit on team that plays at breakneck speed. Strength separates him from competition.

Come back, perhaps

Tayshaun Prince: After bringing Redd, Kobe, Carmelo, and Williams to shore up three-point shooting, it was Prince's 54.5 % mark that led Team USA from outside. And he's a strong defender and consummate team player, an ideal 10th man.

Carmelo Anthony: I've long been lukewarm on 'Melo playing for Team USA, even when he was widely praised as the team's top player. My thought was there are lots of Americans who would shine in international ball if given the chance. Anthony's outside touch and interest in rebounding are valuable.

Michael Redd: Redd never found his groove in Beijing, but he brought the desired offensive firepower and excellent three-point shooting when he played more in the FIBA Americas.

Thanks, though

Carlos Boozer: A very good player who didn't fuss about not playing, but there will be more useful alternatives in the future.

Jason Kidd: No matter James' wishes, Kidd is finished with a spotless 56-0 international record.

Best possible additions

Amare Stoudemire: As great as Howard is, Amare offers a different style offensively, one that would mesh a touch more beautifully on Team USA.

Kevin Martin: An absolutely wonderful offensive player.

Kevin Durant: Had some rough stretches as a rook, but who doesn't? Oozes diverse offensive ability, and should be hitting for almost 30 per night by 2012.

Monta Ellis: Another one of my preferred picks as an all-purpose backup guard, Ellis will be entering his prime the next few seasons.

Brandon Roy: A complete player who is cool under pressure.

Josh Smith: Will polish his game in the coming years, and already  is a premier defensive force who can finish in transition with the best.

Andrew Bynum: After Howard, the next best true center. A major injury question, but that's no different for the next big guy that most are penciling in.

Rudy Gay: I'm visualizing Gay as the thunderous oop to many a Chris Paul alley. And I like that.

Names to consider

Lamarcus Aldridge: It's good to see him in the USA Basketball pipeline. Four years from today he'll be an elite big man playing deep into the playoffs.

Al Horford: A very promising post player at the right age to contribute.

Andre Iguodala: Another ultra-athletic wing who would fly on the fast break. I imagine him devoting a lot of energy wreaking havoc defensively and creating bushels of turnovers.

Derrick Rose: Remember, Chris Paul and Deron Williams only played three NBA seasons before winning Olympic gold this summer. If Rose is good enough, he'll be ready for third string point guard duties by 2012. Whether he's good enough remains to be seen, but the outlook is promising.

Shawn Marion: The Matrix is still waiting for redemption after 2004's debacle.

Greg Oden: Even with more major injuries than NBA games to his name, he's on a short list of possible centers.

Michael Beasley: Just the type of skilled, undersized power forward who can work magic in the international game.

Tyson Chandler: Team USA led the Olympics in blocks, but not by a large enough margin for my liking. Offers nice chemistry with Paul too.

Thaddeus Young: People love Rodney Stuckey, but Young was a far better rookie, and is two years younger. The sheer number of excellent young small forwards will likely prevent him from grabbing a spot until after 2012.

Joe Johnson: Struggled in the '06 World Championships, but ballhandling and shooting ability make him an intriguing player.

Shane Battier: Defense? Check. Team play? Check. Spot-up shooting? Check. Better than Tayshaun? Ehh, squiggle line.

More options

Caron Butler: Every other national team on the planet would die to have him. Yet he never even enters Team USA discussion. How luxurious.

David West: Ever-improving power forward has soft touch around basket. If they want a Boozer replacement, this could be the guy.

Jerryd Bayless: Already on USA Basketball's radar, and Arizona guards do seem to have a fairly high success rate.

David Lee: Strong, athletic, young, plays well within team concept, and shoots high percentage from field and line.

Ramon Sessions: If Luke Ridnour is part of USA Basketball, then shouldn't the Bucks real point guard of the future also? If he can rack up 24 assists with two turnovers for the Bucks in a single game, just think what he'd do if you surrounded him with LeBron, Kobe, and Howard?

Rajon Rondo: Defense and rebounding are useful attributes.

I'll pass

Baron Davis: He wants in, and we all know he's a fantastic talent. But Paul and Williams aren't declining in the next four years, Boom Dizzle however, is.

Gilbert Arenas: If on a hot streak, this is a lot of fun. If not, this is a lot of umm.


C: Dwight Howard / Amare Stoudemire

PF: Chris Bosh / Josh Smith

SF: LeBron James / Kevin Durant / Tayshaun Prince

SG: Kobe Bryant / Dwyane Wade / Kevin Martin

PG: Chris Paul / Deron Williams


C: Dwight Howard / Amare Stoudemire

PF: Chris Bosh / Josh Smith

SF: LeBron James / Kevin Durant

SG: Kobe Bryant / Dwyane Wade / Kevin Martin

PG: Chris Paul / Deron Williams / Monta Ellis

If no LeBron/Kobe/Wade

C: Dwight Howard / Amare Stoudemire

PF: Chris Bosh / Josh Smith

SF: Rudy Gay / Kevin Durant / Andre Iguodala

SG: Kevin Martin / Monta Ellis / Brandon Roy

PG: Chris Paul / Deron Williams

A very different look

C: Andrew Bynum / Greg Oden

PF: Josh Smith / Lamarcus Aldridge / Al Horford

SF: Rudy Gay / Andre Iguodala / Michael Beasley

SG: Brandon Roy / Michael Redd

PG: Derrick Rose / Rajon Rondo