USA Basketball 2012: What is Team USA's best lineup?

Team USA has advanced to the semifinals after beating Australia yesterday 119-86. The U.S. will play Argentina at 4 p.m. EST Friday with the winner moving on to play in the gold medal game.

The United States is 6-0 so far in these Olympics winning games by an average margin of 37.3 points per game. They have been dominant but not perfect or without flaws.

The Team USA roster isn’t exactly the one envisioned by Jerry Colangelo and Mike Krzyzewski. They are small without Dwight Howard, Chris Bosh or LaMarcus Aldridge and also missing a few other stars in Dwyane Wade and Derrick Rose.

The only three bigs on the roster for Team USA are Tyson Chandler, Kevin Love and Anthony Davis. Chandler has been barely playing largely due to foul trouble, Love has emerged of late and Davis only sees the floor in garbage time.

It has resulted in a lot of Team USA’s players playing out of position, mainly LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony who are playing the four and five positions primarily.

We’ve seen a lot of different lineups and rotations so far from Coach K as he still sometimes seems to be looking for the right grouping of five guys.

Team USA has done fine despite this so far and has won games because of their superior depth and talent. Now in the semifinals and playing Argentina for the third time in as many weeks, and Spain or Russia looming as a gold medal matchup, the United States may need to shrink their rotation some and find their best lineup.

What is the best 5-man lineup for Team USA?

We know it’s not the starting five of Paul-Kobe-LeBron-Durant-Chandler. They’ve gotten off to a few slow starts and with Chandler barely playing and Kobe’s struggles, this surely hasn’t been their strongest group.

The first sub is always Anthony coming in for Chandler as Team USA immediately goes small. This isn’t their best lineup either because Kobe, who hasn’t gelled well with this team at all, is still out there.

It’s usually Deron Williams and Russell Westbrook who enter next for Paul and Kobe. Now we’re getting warmer. Williams is arguably the better international point guard than Paul and Westbrook has been an upgrade from Kobe in a lot of instances as well.

But Team USA is still pretty vulnerable inside when Anthony and Durant are out there together and it’s not as if they work so great together on offense either. You probably only need one of them on the floor at a time, simply to focus more on defense.

Love is the final piece here and next sub in. He usually comes for Durant or LeBron at this point but Team USA’s best lineup definitely involves Durant and LeBron on the floor together.

Of the lineups that have played a good amount of minutes together so far in these Olympics, Team USA’s best is Paul-Williams-LeBron-Durant-Love.

The combining of Paul and Williams works well and Paul simply is playing at a higher level than Westbrook right now, fitting in more with the team too. Love has been a beast on the glass of late too, really establishing himself as a force down low while LeBron and Durant are good enough to hold their own on bigger defenders as well.

That is the best lineup we will see from Team USA going forward. The challenge for Coach K will be seamlessly removing Kobe from the floor to go with a lineup like this in crunch time. It probably won’t happen and Kobe and/or Anthony will be on the floor instead of Williams or Love.

The best lineup for Team USA is perhaps one we will never see and is totally different from the identity they’ve shown so far in the Olympics. It involves and basically highlights Davis in at center.

Davis has been a monster in the little time he has played swatting shots like nothing and rebounding very well too. He has also really meshed with Paul and the other guards, rolling to the rim and finishing alley-oops.

Team USA would be at their best going Williams-LeBron-Anthony-Durant-Davis. They’d have plenty of size and could use Williams running the point as well as LeBron. This would free up LeBron a little more to get out and run on the wings, really maximizing the potential of Team USA’s transition game.

It’s fun to think about different lineups with Team USA and this one in particular, but we probably won’t see it at all, even if it might be their best look. Instead, Team USA will have to try and win gold not with, but despite someone like Kobe, while more deserving players in Love and Davis watch from the sidelines.

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Tags: 2012 Olympics Anthony Davis Argentina Australia Carmelo Anthony Chris Paul Deron Williams Jerry Colangelo Kevin Durant Kevin Love Kobe Bryant LeBron James Mike Krzyzewski Russell Westbrook Tyson Chandler USA Basketball

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