As the NBA's best American-born players tip-off against Great Britain at the beginning of their gold medal quest, Commissioner David Stern has ideas of his own about the future of Olympic basketball. Stern is interested in adopting a style similar to Olympic soccer, which is an under-23 competition with three overage player exceptions. While Kobe Bryant called it a blatantly stupid idea, their comments have sparked debate.
While the transition wouldn't take place until the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil here is what the roster would look like if the United States were fielding an under-23 team for the 2012 London Olympic Games.
*- Over-23 exception.
*Chris Paul- Paul finished first in assist-to-turnover ratio last season.
John Wall- Wall resembles a younger Westbrook with a weaker supporting cast.
Russell Westbrook- The Westbrook-Bryant dynamic would be the most interesting one to watch. One ball, two players, 40 minutes, only one can survive.
*Kobe Bryant- Bryant has been in the league seven years longer than the second oldest Team USA Under-23 member, LeBron James. Bryant can share his basketball wisdom while his teammates teach him about Mass Effect 3 on Xbox.
James Harden- Harden isn't as athletic as Westbrook or Gordon but he is a crafty Ginobili-type scorer and ball handler on the wing. He'll be the United State's Puerto Rico/6th Man as well.
Eric Gordon- Outside of Durant, Gordon would be the best pure shooter on Team USA's roster but he was injured much of last season.
Kevin Durant- At 23, he's already a three-time scoring champ and there isn't a scorer in sight who can stop him from gobbling up scoring titles - except Westbrook.
LeBron James- He's the reigning league and Finals MVP. Pfffftt...
Kevin Love- Love isn't very athletic but he has two qualities that Team USA could use in rebounding and outside shooting. USA will be throwing up a ton of shots, Love isn't a great defender but he is already among the league's best rebounders..
Anthony Davis- Davis can score in the post or from behind the arc based on the two 3-pointers he drained against the Dominican Republic (including a four-point play).
DeMarcus Cousins- attempted 7.3 shots per game at the rim last season, most in the NBA.
Greg Monroe- His size, scoring and passing ability is similar to Pau Gasol's.
DeMar DeRozan- The 22-year-old is a supremely athletic forward and a rising star outside the spotlight in Toronto.
Bradley Beal- The rookie combo guard has been compared to a young Dwyane Wade with better shooting touch and has led the Wizards in scoring in all five of his summer league appearances.
*Tyson Chandler- The 2012 Defensive Player of the Year will protect the rim and is excellent in the pick and roll. Now that he's reunited with ex-Hornets teammate Chris Paul, who fed him alley oops like people with high cholesterol eat Cheerios, he'll be a force on both ends
Head Coach: Brad Stevens(Butler)- If the players have to be younger than 23, then the head coach should be young enough to relate but must have the credentials and basketball IQ to earn the respect of his youthful roster. The London Olympics is along ways from his Indianapolis mid-major Stevens has taken Butler to two national championship games and is likened to a young Coach K so it's only naturally he assumes Mike Krzyzewski's post.
Aside from the fact that the Stevens would likely have to hire an extra assistant coach responsible for bag lunches and chaperoning, an Under-23 team would still be talented enough to win a gold medal over powerhouses France, Argentina and Spain.