Cohen: Could 2012 USAB Select Team Win NBA Title?

By Josh Cohen
May 21, 2012

ORLANDO -- Congrats to Ryan Anderson for being named one of 13 players to help USA train for the 2012 Olympics in London.

Just a couple of weeks after earning the NBA’s Most Improved Award, Anderson impressed the committee over at USAB and will team up with some of the other top young talents around the NBA to scrimmage against the big boys.

But rather than unreasonably try and determine how the U.S. Select Team will fare against the NBA’s marquee superstars, I pose a more sensible inquest:

If the U.S. Select Team became an actual NBA team, would they have had a chance to win the NBA championship in 2011-12?

First and foremost, we need to assess the roster. Here is the position-by-position directory:

GUARDS Kyrie Irving, John Wall, Jeremy Lin, DeMar DeRozan, Paul George, Klay Thompson
FORWARDS Ryan Anderson, Derrick Favors, Taj Gibson, Kawhi Leonard, Gordon Hayward
CENTERS DeMarcus Cousins, DeJuan Blair

Like all USA Select teams throughout history, this is a very young, inexperienced and unverified crop of players.

They are point guard loaded with Kyrie Irving, John Wall and Jeremy Lin.

It would be very intricate to properly institute a lineup for this team. Who starts and do certain guys play out of position?

For instance, should both Irving and Wall start? Irving would be relied upon to be more of a shooting guard and primary scorer while Wall would act as the floor general and chief distributor.

Or, on the other hand, does DeMar DeRozan or Paul George start for a more conventional backcourt?

While this team would be long at the forward spots, they would likely struggle to guard bigger, bulkier opponents.

Yes, Taj Gibson and Kawhi Leonard are terrific defenders and can guard multiple positions. But generally they would be bullied in the paint against adversaries that flourish down low.

DeMarcus Cousins and DeJuan Blair would serve as the two centers. Not awful, but not elite either.

Challenging the teams that possess dominant big men such as Dwight Howard, Andrew Bynum, Marc Gasol and Roy Hibbert would be grueling.

Anderson and Klay Thompson provide this squad a 3-point threat, but aside from those two they would be hard-pressed to find dependable perimeter shooters. Gordon Hayward is capable of hitting outside shots, but at this stage of his career, he is a little too inconsistent.

Who would be this group’s go-to scorer in the clutch? Would Irving be expected to take game-winning shots? Would DeRozan evolve into that type of conqueror and cold-blooded risk-taker?

If this team played in the 2011-12 season, I think they are a guarantee to advance to the conference semifinals. But, I’m not convinced they would beat San Antonio, Oklahoma City or Miami with a well Chris Bosh.

We don’t completely know what Chicago with Derrick Rose at 100 percent or Orlando with Howard healthy would be in relation to the rest of the competition.

I think, nonetheless, the USAB Select Team has a good enough blend of speed and length to be a top four team in the NBA. I just wouldn’t pick them to win it all.

How do you think the 2012 USAB Select Team would do if they were an NBA team?
How do you think the 2012 USAB Select Team would do if they were an NBA team?
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