Earlier today, I made a suggestion over on the Olympic Basketball Blog. Rather than the NBA push for some insane 23-and-under rule for the Olympics, it can accomplish its goals by sending two separate men’s national teams to the Olympics and the NBA’s new baby, the World Cup of Basketball.
In a nutshell, it allows USA Basketball to put together a very good Olympic team that can finally be built with the international game in mind while the World Cup team can be the collection of megastars we’re used to. This way, the Olympics are still full of NBA talent, but customized to the international game, and the World Cup is full of the superstar buzz that will draw the crowds, and dollars, the NBA so covets.
With that in mind, it seems to me that adding Avery Bradley to the Olympic team in that scenario is a no-brainer.
An Olympic squad can pick from highly skilled role players around the NBA to do the specific jobs superstars are being asked to do. A player like Stephen Curry would be a killer in the Olympics. A lock-down defender who can also hit open shots like Boston’s Avery Bradley would be gigantic asset for Team USA (imagine him checking Juan-Carlos Navarro in the gold medal game). Good young bigs like Greg Monroe could combat teams with size. Austin Rivers is a proven scorer in international competition and is already in the USA Basketball pipeline. And Kyrie Irving could weave it all together
Let’s be honest with ourselves here: Team USA was flawed. It’s biggest weakness in the Olympic tournament, highlighted in the gold medal game, was its inability to stop any of the decent guards on the floor. Spain tortured the US with penetration as the America guards gambled time and time again. Juan-Carlos Navarro lit the US up in the first half, and if it wasn’t for a boneheaded move by Spain to leave Marc Gasol in the game with three fouls in the second quarter (he picked up a 4th before halftime, forcing him to sit until the fourth quarter), the ending might have been a little different.
Avery has proven that he’s one of the NBA’s premier perimeter defenders, and his hounding of opposing international point guards would be a huge key to American success in a re-tooled Olympic team. We already know Rajon Rondo has no interest in participating. And besides Bradley, the only hope for future Celtics being part of Team USA lies in, perhaps Jared Sullinger and as-yet-undrafted rookies or as-yet-unsigned free agents or traded players.
So Bradley is it as far as Celtics we can root for in the red, white, and blue. And gauging from the reaction around these parts, Team USA needs some Celtics influence to make them more likeable (as an aside: You can count me out of the Team USA hate. I say put all the NBA differences aside to root for your country. And I’ll also add that these guys behaved beautifully, played hard, and did the country proud).
It’s impossible not to like Avery Bradley. And when he’s healthy, he plays a role that any team, including the Team USA, desperately needs. As the NBA tries to put more emphasis on the World Cup with its stars, it’s time to make Bradley, and guys like him, part of a true international team that continue bringing home the gold for the U.S.