July 6, 2012; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Team USA guard Russell Westbrook and forward Kevin Love during practice at the UNLV Mendenhall Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE
Previous posts on the Olympics: Women's soccer
The United States men's national basketball team has a bunch of Pac-12 players, with two from UCLA, one from Arizona and one from Arizona State. Pretty familiar names representing Team USA are Andre Iguodala, James Harden, Kevin Love and Russell Westbrook.
Iguodala, the former Wildcat (2002-04), was signed by the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round, ninth overall pick, of the 2004 NBA Draft. This past season the 76ers wing helped his teammates in reaching the Conference Semifinals to play against Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen of the Boston Celtics. Philly fell 4-3, but it was a pretty successful season for Iguodala. During the playoffs, Iguodala averaged 12.9 points per game, 5.70 rebounds and 3.7 assists. He will be super-crucial for the US men's team because of his elite perimeter defense, his solid three-point shooting and his athleticism off the bench, which may come in handy against teams with good depth at the forward position.
From Iguodala’s in-state rival Arizona State comes James Harden with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Drafted as the No. 3 overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, the L.A.-born guard played 62 regular-season games this past year and helped his teammates get to the NBA Finals. Harden and his beard averaged 16.3 points per game, 5.10 rebounds and 3.4 assists against King LeBron James and Dwayne Wade, but played even better before that series, and was the Sixth Man of the Year in 2012. Harden will be another useful slasher off the bench who can also create for other teammates.
Harden’s teammate Russell Westbrook, a UCLA alum, is coming off a career season that saw him make his second All-Star team and his second NBA All-Second Team. Westbrook totaled an insane 43 points in OKC’s 104-98 Game 4 of the Finals to the Miami Heat to give his team a chance to tie the series. The four-year pro averaged 23.1 points, 5.50 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game in 38.4 minutes post-season and at times looked like the most unstoppable player on the floor in the Finals. Westbrook will pretty much act as the de-facto off ball guard with Deron Williams and Chris Paul handing primarily responsibilities at the one. His extreme athleticism could be a huge X-factor for the United States to throw off the bench.
23-year-old UCLA alum and current Minnesota Timberwolf Kevin Love averaged a career-best 26.0 ppg this past season and another high 13.30 rpg in 55 games played. In 2010-11, Love ended his third season by winning the league’s Most Improved Player award after earning then-career highs in scoring (20.2 ppg), rebounding (an NBA-best and franchise-record 15.2 rpg), assists (2.5 apg), minutes (35.8 mpg) and all three shooting categories. Love is not an overwhelming forward, but he's a solid low-post player who can help the United States match up with bigger squads like Spain.
Other than the USA stars, representing Lithuania is Robertas Javtokas (Arizona), Great Britain’s Eric Boateng (Arizona State), Nigeria’s Ike Diogu (Arizona State) and Australia’s Aron Baynes (Washington State).
Javtokas made his debut in 1997 playing with the AB Siauliai in Lithuania until 1999. Since then he’s moved around quite a bit, playing for Arizona (1999-00), Lietuvos Rytas (2000-06), Panathinaikos Athens (2006-07), Dynamo Moscow (2007-09), Khimki Moscow (2009-10), Valencia (2010-11) and back to Lithuania for the 2011-12 season with BC Zalgiris Kaunas. In the Euroleague this past season, Javtokas ranked fourth in offensive rebounds (16) and eighth in total rebounds (37).
Eric Boateng played for Duke (2005-06) before transferring to ASU in 2006. During his senior season in 2009-10 he was voted one of the nation’s most improved players, averaging 8.8 ppg and 7.2 rpg. He shot a Pac-10 best 66.5 percent from the field, including a league-best .660 in Pac-10 play. After Arizona State, Boateng played in the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament (Pre-NBA Draft) and the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas (New York Knicks). From 2010-11 he played on the D-league Idaho Stampede, averaging 5.2 ppg and 4.9 rpg in 17 appearances. In Feb. 2011 he moved to the Austin Toros and played in 22 games before joining DASH Peristeri GS Athens as a starting five in Nov. 2011.
Also from ASU is Ike Diogu, who was selected in the first round of the 2005 NBA Draft by the Golden State Warriors. Diogu then played with the Pacers (2006-08), the Portland Trailblazers (2008-09), the Sacramento Kings (2008-09), the Los Angeles Clippers (2010-11) and the San Antonio Spurs (2011-12), averaging just 6.0 ppg and 3.1 rebounds. Playing just two games with the Texas team, Diogu then joined Xinjiang Flying Tigers in The People’s Republic of China and the Capitanes de Arecibo in Puerto Rico.
Lastly is Aron Baynes, the former Washington State University Cougar. Baynes led his team during his senior season in 2008-09 in field goal percentage (.580), rebounds (247, 7.5 rpg), blocked shots (43), free throws made (113) and free throws attempted (146). Baynes was second on the team in scoring with 12.7 ppg. Since college, Baynes has played for the Euro league Lietuvos Rytas (2009-10), the Eurocup league EWE Baskets Oldenburg (2010-11) and his current team, the Greek league Ikaros Kallitheas B.C. With the Ikaros, Baynes has averaged 13.6 ppg in 28.0 minutes in 23 games.
The United States men's basketball team will finish with...
gold (22 votes)
silver (0 votes)
bronze (0 votes)
no medal (0 votes)
22 total votes