Friday 19 January 2018 / 02:19 PM


The opening Olympic ceremony is just hours away, and with the competition kicking off, Team USA is once again the favorite to take the gold medal in the basketball competition.  Team USA just wrapped up exhibition play, and after decimating the competition, they roll down to Rio with something to prove.  Here’s everything you need to know about Team USA:

Carmelo Anthony frontlines the team of superstars, going for his record third gold medal.  He’ll serve as the team captain, and has mentored the rest of the team, keeping a business-like style to his leadership.  Melo has played at the four primarily, and will likely play the most minutes.

Melo will play alongside Paul George, Harrison Barnes and Kevin Durant at the forward spot.  George has made his return to international competition after serving a major injury in his last go round.  PG13 has played exceptionally, relying mostly on his defense and passing, distributing more than he’s going to the rim.  Durant has adapted into a primary shooter on this team, hanging mostly around the perimeter and knocking down threes.  Harrison Barnes has played sparingly at the four, and mostly at the three.  He’s more of a three-and-D guy, and has been effective in smaller sets.  Durant and George have paired nicely with Melo, and will as play progresses.

The guards for Team USA have been particularly dominant, with Kyle Lowry and Kyrie Irving playing the point quite nicely.  Irving has dealt with injuries, and Lowry has played the bulk of the minutes at the point, with Melo spelling him when he sits.  Lowry as the primary ball handler has worked, with the offense running smoothly through the drive and dish guard.  Lowry and Irving play similar styles, and there isn’t a drop off when either is on the floor.

The other guards have been highlights for the United States.  Jimmy Butler has been great in his limited minutes, dominating on defense and providing some physicality on offense.  But Klay Thompson and DeMar DeRozan have been studs for Team USA.  Thompson was expected, and his shooting has been outstanding in the exhibition games.  His compliment to the other guard on the floor, as well as sets with Melo playing point, has been outstanding.  DeRozan has been the unexpected surprise on this team, providing some highlight reel plays and some really good defense.  DeRozan is taking advantage of the stage, and should be a must-watch when on the floor in Rio.

The big men for Team USA have been predictably dominant.  DeAndre Jordan has been unmanageable on offense, and should roll through early play.  He just hasn’t been able to be stopped on the lob, and his defense has provided a solid rim protector for Team USA, and made up for lapses in defensive coverage.  Draymond Green has been great in small sets, and is a solid playmaker.  His off court stuff has been more a distraction so far, but he’s playing well on the floor.

But the best of the bigs has been DeMarcus Cousins.  Cousins has been dominant in international competition, racking up double doubles at a consistent rate and averaging the most minutes at the center position.  Cousins has been particularly dominant, and has yet to find a match, and probably won’t, in international play.

Team USA is relying on its speed and athleticism to carry them in Rio.  There’s very little this team can’t do, as they have the size, speed, and shooting.  Team USA should be the overwhelming favorite in Rio, and anything less than gold should be a disappointment.

Sure, there are going to be blowouts galore, but man is it going to be fun watching these guys play together.

Team USA plays their first game against China on Saturday, August 6th.

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About the author

Austin Albertson

Austin is CBS' senior NFL and NBA analyst, bringing you commentary on everything between the lines and inside the hashes, from the film room to the scoreboard.

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