Monday, May 21, 2012

Can Jeremy Lin make the senior national team for the London Olympics?

It's finally official that Jeremy Lin will be a member of the select team that scrimmages against the senior national USA basketball team to help them prepare for the London Olympics. It's an honor and at the least, inclusion on the select team places Lin in the system to possibly one day join the senior team. The experience training with the best American players at the highest level of USA basketball should help Lin especially after his NBA season was cut short by injury.

While unlikely, I don't think it's implausible that Lin makes the senior national team for the London Olympics, provided he shines during the practices and some roster decisions that are out of his control fall his way.

First, Mike D'Antoni is Team USA's main offensive assistant coach and he's a Lin fan. I suspect his input played a role in Lin's inclusion on the select team.

Second, Lin's game as a bigger versatile playmaking scoring PG fits the international game.

Third, the PG candidates for the senior team are Paul, Billups, Rose, Westbrook, and Williams. Pencil in Williams and probably Westbrook. After Williams and Westbrook, though, Billups and Rose are out, and Paul was playing hurt in the play-offs. Paul may opt out of the Olympics. If that happens, Lin will have an opening. Westbrook was a very dynamic and effective Barbosa-type for Team USA in the WCs, but he doesn't have a PG mentality. For the 3rd PG, the coaches - especially D'Antoni - may want a more versatile, reliable, and coachable guard, a role which suits Lin.

Of course, if Paul opts out, Lin would still have to stand out in the practices by outplaying Irving and Wall with the select team while showing off the specific skills the coaches are looking for in the 3rd PG. Irving is stiff competition and Wall may see Team USA as his opportunity to wash off the Wizards losing stench.

Update: The Team USA Olympics roster must be finalized by July 7. The select team will get together for the first time on July 5, which will give Lin only 2 days to make an extraordinary impression on the coaches. That means it's more unlikely Lin makes it to the Olympics this year, but still not impossible. Late extended senior team roster addition James Harden, who's the next Manu Ginobili, may also be in the running to be Team USA's 3rd PG, especially if the coaches believe a larger backcourt can make up for a smaller frontcourt. Another likely option is that Lebron James will carry back-up PG duties so that an extra big man or shooter can be added. Select team members (ie, the senior team's sparring partners) are far less likely than senior team members to join the Olympics team, but there's no rule set in stone saying it can't happen.




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