July 2010

Trading Free Throws for Free Kicks

The 15 finalists for the USA Men’s Basketball roster came out today for the 2010 World Championships.  After reading through the names on the roster, I began to think about what a USMNT roster could look like if these guys had been playing with their feet for as long as they’ve been hooping.  The roster is as follows: Chauncey Billups, Tyson Chandler, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Rudy Gay, Eric Gordon, Danny Granger, Jeff Green, Andre Iguodala, Brook Lopez, Kevin Love, Lamar Odom, Rajon Rondo, Derrick Rose, and Russell Westbrook.  Now lets assume that these guys would have similar attributes on the pitch that they do on the court.  For example, if a guy racks up the assists on the court I’m going to believe that his mindset would be the same on the field and he would look to distribute.  However, if a guy’s main strength is taking the ball to hoop, he may be best suited to attack up front.  Ya dig?  If we were to play a 4-4-2, here is my starting 11:

Keeper: Lamar Odom.  Lamar is a 6’10”, 230 lb guy that is equally accustomed to running the point as he is posting up smaller defenders.  He would be able to use this great agility along with his lateral quickness to keep the ball out of the net.  His seven foot wingspan would also make him quite difficult to score on.  Second choice: Kevin Durant, but I’m putting him elsewhere.

Central Defenders: Kevin Love and Jeff Green. At 6’10”, 260, Love would be a beast on the back line.  He is not exactly a speed merchant, but he uses his size very well.  Also, if you’ve ever heard anyone talk about Love (especially when he was drafted) scouts raved about his ability to use his vision for rapid outlet passes creating fast breaks.  Love would be able to use that vision for counterattacking with the ridiculously quick midfielders and forwards.  Jeff Green is listed at 6’9″ and 235 lbs.  Upon Green’s departure from Georgetown, John Thompson III declared that he was the most intelligent player that he ever coached.  Green would be able to use this sporting IQ along with his size and quickness to keep the middle of the pitch clear.

Outside Backs: Chauncey Billups and Eric Gordon.  Billups is a 6’3″, 202 pound bulldog that has a refuse to lose attitude that you must have on your team.  Therefore, he would be wearing the captain’s armband on my team.  Billups is a two time 2nd team NBA all defensive team selection and is known simply as “Mr. Big Shot” for his potency when the game is on the line.  Chauncey would be a guy that you could encourage to fly up the line on occasion, just to make something happen.  Eric Gordon is another hard nosed player that any USMNT fan would enjoy to watch.  Although, it is impossible to see him play with the Clippers, I recall him being a real tough S.O.B. while playing with the now irrelevant Indiana Hoosier’s basketball team.  Gordon stands at 6’3″ and weighs in at 222 lbs, with good end to end speed.  This pair would make it very difficult to get by the US of A on the outside, and playing balls into the middle would be very difficult with the big guys on the interior.

Center Midfielders:  Rajon Rondo (CAM) and Stephen Curry (CDM). I like the 6’1″ lightning bolt as the virtual “point guard” of my attack.  Could you imagine a counterattack with Rondo leading the break up the middle?  The defenders wouldn’t even have time to turn before he would be past them.  In addition, his ability to distribute the ball is uncanny.  In fact, Rondo nearly averaged a triple double  during the ’08-’09 playoff run of the Celtics…so you know that he knows how to step his game up when it counts. Steph Curry is 6’3″ of pure smoothness.  He is exactly the type of guy that you want to distribute the ball from the midfield.  He never seems to get rattled and has the ability to make the big play and hit the long range bomb.  I wish that we had the opportunity to watch these guys execute silky smooth passes up the pitch, into the opponents’ danger zone, before dishing to someone making a run.

Outside Midfielders:  Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook. Plain and simple, this pair of 6’3″ gentlemen can fly.  The ability that this team would have to play it out wide and let either of them run under it before crossing would be ridiculous.  In addition to the knack that they both have for being able to score around the hoop, both are capable of passing the ball exceptionally well.  Rose led all rookies with 6.3 assists per game in ’08-’09 and followed that up with 6.0 per game last season, in addition to his 20.8 points per game.  Russell Westbrook averaged 8.0 assists and 16.1 points per game last season, in addition to recording only the 3rd triple double in Supersonics/Thunder franchise history.

Forwards: Kevin Durant and Andre Iguodala.  How would you stop a 6’9″ athletic freak (Durant) and a 6’6″ high flying dunk artist (Iguodala)?  You can’t.  The US of A could endlessly float balls into the box and let these two just go up and get them.  Durant may have a body type that resembles the awkward Peter Crouch, but trust me when I say that Crouch couldn’t play in the NBA.  I will however use this opportunity to link a picture of Peter Crouch’s better half, Abby Clancy. Durant has shown the ability to do it all on the basketball court, and I’m sure his athleticism would be on full display on the pitch.  Last season, Durant started all 82 games, averaged 39.5 minutes per game, shot 90% from the line, averaged 7.6 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.4 steals, 1 block, and 30 points.  That my friends is not the kind of athleticism you see from a 6’9″ individual very often.  Andre Iguodala is known as a slashing highlight reel machine for the 76ers.  The ability to play the ball into the middle to either of these two would result in plenty of opportunities for them to get their head on the ball and put it into the net.  In addition, Iguodala would be able to use his strength to possess the ball up top.  In order to defend this pair, some unfortunate nation would have to result to some serious dirty play to keep them grounded.

Would you make any changes?  Who else would you like to see from other US sports on the team?  Who would you pick to manage such a squad?  What if it could be a manager from any sport?  Comment away.

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Dru Boyer is a staff writer for The Yanks Are Coming. He can be reached at dru@yanksarecoming.com. He’s also more easily accessible on Twitter @SwampJankins. Follow him !

Dru Boyer

  • Amy

    Derrick Rose in the Memphis Jersey. Gangsta !!

  • Jon

    Great ideas Dru! I love the choice of Lamar Odom at keeper for all the reasons you mentioned along with the fact that you’ve got to be slightly unhinged/weird to be a keeper… Lamar fits the bill. I could see him hanging out with David James, the two of them creating their own language like twins do in their toddler years.

    And just so everyone knows, if Iguodala played soccer for the States I’d rock that jersey so fast! By the time YOU saw the news that homeboy was set to play on the front line for the Yanks, I’D be wearing the shirt and annoying my coworkers while using the phrase “gonna clown fools” ad nauseam.

  • Daniel Seco

    Haha, nice comment, Jon!

  • Jon, Have to agree with your thoughts on Odom being a screwball. Although I may have more confidence in him stopping a shot if he could stop a doughnut a 2 from entering Khloe Kardashian’s mouth. AYY OH!

    And as far as jersey’s go, I would mosdef rock the Rondo. Go Big Blue!

  • taylor

    any of many corners in the NFL right now would be amazing wingers or strikers. ridiculously quick with great footwork. if they grew up with a ball at their feet it some of them would surely be sick

  • Neil W. Blackmon

    Thinking of Rando as a CM gives me nightmares about the Ghana game and the suffocating CDM they had that essentially ate our lunch the entire first half. Love Rajon, and will admit I was wrong about him. Never thought he had it after Brewer and Green ate him alive in college.