The U.S. was challenged in the first half vs. Argentina and only led 60-59 at halftime. Then in the third quarter Team USA came out a different team especially on the defensive side of the ball and outscored Argentina 42-17 in the third alone.
LeBron James and Kevin Durant led the United States in that period. LeBron became more assertive on offense scoring nine quick points then Durant took over, reigning in the threes for 17 points to get him to his game-high 28.
“Anybody in their right mind, when [Durant] gets to shooting the ball like that, there’s only one play,” Chris Paul told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. “Get the ball to him.”
Durant has definitely stood out in the Olympics so far averaging 18.6 points per game to lead Team USA while shooting .606 percent from downtown. But has he been Team USA’s MVP so far? There are a few other players who’d like to make their case.
LeBron James – 11.6 PPG, 4.4 APG, 3.4 RPG (61 FG%, 33 3PT%, 80 FT%)
LeBron hasn’t had to do much for Team USA thus far in the Olympics. But in the last two games against Lithuania and Argentina he stepped up and made his presence known as one of the leaders of this team. He scored nine of Team USA’s final 12 points vs. Lithuania as they won that game 99-95 and he led a spirited third quarter charge vs. Argentina. Through pool play though he hasn’t consistently been Team USA’s best player, even though that was probably by choice. We can definitely expect LeBron to continue to step up once the medal round starts though.
Carmelo Anthony – 17.4 PPG, 0.8 APG, 4.6 RPG (59 FG%, 60 3PT%, 80 FT%)
Anthony had the biggest game of the Olympics so far during Team USA’s 83-point blowout vs. Nigeria, he set a U.S. Olympic record with 37 points and went 10-of-12 from deep in the game. Anthony has been great in his instant offense role off the bench and hasn’t been shy about jacking up shots. Anthony wasn’t on the floor late vs. Lithuania though because of his defense. On this team he has been asked to guard bigger players and hasn’t exactly done the best job. He’s been pretty one-dimensional for Team USA and that’s why he isn’t their MVP so far.
Chris Paul – 7.6 PPG, 5.8 APG, 3.0 RPG (52 FG%, 47 3PT%, 0 FT%)
Paul has gone under the radar for the most part in these Olympics but really played well in Team USA’s last two games which were so close. There was a belief before the Olympics began that maybe Deron Williams was the better international point guard for this team but Paul has definitely separated from him. He’s shooting great from 3-point land as well and has come up big in some clutch moments. But it hasn’t been enough to outshine the MVP of Team USA so far…
Kevin Durant – 18.6 PPG, 3.8 APG, 5.6 RPG (52 FG%, 61 3PT%, 88 FT%)
It’s close but Durant is my pick for the MVP of Team USA in pool play. He has been the most consistent scorer and his 3-point shooting has been off the charts even for him. The 3-point shooting is magnified even more because of Team USA’s reliance on the shot. His defense has been pretty good too, especially in the third quarter vs. Argentina when he was all over the floor making deflections left and right. Durant’s length has really bothered Team USA’s opponents making him just fine to have on the floor late as a reliable defender. If not for LeBron’s chill play in the first few games, maybe he would have emerged as Team USA’s MVP so far but you can’t overlook how Durant has played so far.