Derrick Rose and Brandon Roy have delivered two of the brightest performances of the first round thus far.
Can you imagine those two guards playing together in the same backcourt?
(No, this is not Bucks-related)
With most of the basketball world's focus on the NBA playoffs, save for some attention for Euroleague and this summer's draft, not many people are talking Team USA or international ball.
But with a full regular season complete since redeeming gold, now is a good time to revisit one of my favorite topics for the first time since early September when I dreamt of Team USA's future.
Since then, we've learned for certain that a handful of players stand above everyone else on the planet right now. Good news for Team USA, because the jive five are Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, LeBron James, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade. (Note they are arranged alphabetically. Yes, there is a real order, and James is first. But that's not the point here)
The World Championships are right around the corner, in 2010. And the 2012 Olympics aren't that far off either.
That means it's time to plan. We could safely start with the aforementioned five, but they haven't promised to stay on for another run. And while they aren't necessary a package deal, I don't expect to see Kobe without LeBron, or LeBron without Wade.
I'll first assume that they will all return for another cycle. Kobe is the eldest and iffiest among the bunch, but he probably wouldn't mind further cementing his legacy. In that scenario, this is what I would like to see:
C: Dwight Howard / Amare Stoudemire
PF: Chris Bosh / Carmelo Anthony / Josh Smith
SF: LeBron James / Kevin Durant
SG: Kobe Bryant / Dwyane Wade / Brandon Roy
PG: Chris Paul / Deron Williams
Then again, there is the possibility of major turnover three years from now. What if Kobe decides three more years of such a heavy commitment is too much? If LeBron and Dwyane think there is more to lose than gain? It's no guarantee that both Paul and Williams both will want in again. Injuries happen too, and we know big men in particular can get hurt.
Just like that, the starting five could be gone.
And that brings me back to Rose and Roy, who could potentially spearhead the team in 2012.
C: Andrew Bynum / Brook Lopez
PF: Lamarcus Aldridge / Al Jefferson / Josh Smith
SF: Kevin Durant / Danny Granger
SG: Brandon Roy / Kevin Martin
PG: Derrick Rose / Deron Williams / Rajon Rondo
Based on this lineup, Howard and Bosh are probably more irreplaceable than even LeBron, Kobe, Wade, and Paul. There are other mildly attractive post player options such as David West (and maybe Blake Griffin), but I truly do hope Howard and Bosh return. Either way, the alternate, worst-case scenario doesn't look bad to me.