Kobe Bryant should be a lock for Team USA, but who else should make the squad?
Kobe Bryant should be a lock for Team USA, but who else should make the squad? blog.syracuse.com

The USA Basketball Men's National Team meets on Friday in Las Vegas for their first practice in preparation for the 2012 London Olympics.

At the moment, there are 15 players in camp with the US team, but that number will be cut down to 12 by July 17 when the team travels to England to start exhibition games prior to the official start of the games.

Team USA's first Olympic pool game is July 29 against France.

The team has been hurt by injuries and Dwight Howard, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh have already pulled out, leaving the Americans a bit shorthanded inside, and without their leading scorer from Beijing, Wade.

Four of the players currently with the squad will be sent home by USA Basketball president Jerry Colangelo and head coach Mike Krzyzewski over the coming days, but who should go and who should stay?


In - Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook
Out - Eric Gordon and James Harden

Bryant, Paul and Williams were all on the team in Beijing, all three are still excellent players in high demand in the NBA. Paul is possibly the best point guard on earth and should form half the starting backcourt with Bryant.

Williams makes the team thanks to familiarity with Team USA and his ability to play both guard spots. Durant, the three time defending NBA Scoring Champion is a no-brainer as is his speedy teammate Westbrook who will probably back up at the point spot.

Gordon and Harden are both excellent players in their own right, and on nearly any other nation's team would be in the starting five, but in America the bar is much higher and neither player has enough pure talent to bump the guys ahead of them.

In - LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony
Out - Rudy Gay, Andre Igoudala

James and Anthony were linked as the two Americans at the top of the 2002 draft, and they have been linked as the swing men for Team USA since the 2004 Olympic games. James will obviously start, but Anthony is a prolific scorer who can be used in spots by the Americans.

Anthony may also be asked to play some power forward in London. He did it with success for the Heat when Chris Bosh was hurt in the playoffs, and with team USA a bit thin underneath, don't be surprised to see James slide up.

Gay and Igoudala are both great players, but they have spent their entire careers on the outside looking in at Team USA. Neither has done enough since 2008 to merit inclusion.

In - Kevin Love, Tyson Chandler, Blake Griffin and Anthony Davis
Out - none

Scarily enough, these four player represent the only four players among the finalists who are over 6-10 and Chandler is the only player over seven feet. All four, including Davis, will probably have to make the team in order to give the US enough big bodies to compete.