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Olympics Basketball Wrapup

I didn't liveblog the Olympic gold medal game like everyone else did, but I did watch it live, in its entirety. Even now, a few days later, I can recall the thoughts blazing through my mind during the game:

1) Where is Michael Redd? The instant the Spaniards went to zone, it was time to dust him off, even if only to park him and Kobe two feet outside the line so Paul and Williams could penetrate or throw the rock in to LeBron at the stripe.

2) Why doesn't any coach (it seems) realize that Jason Kidd can't play defense anymore? Juan Carlos Navarro was giving Paul and Williams trouble, but not nearly as much as he was destroying Kidd by curling off screens into the lane for floaters. I haven't seen minutes played in any box scores, but it felt like Coach K benched Kidd for most of the fourth quarter.

3) Ricky Rubio, must-have "Ricky" jersey and all, solidified his spot as a top-three pick in the NBA Draft. Holding his own alongside NBA talent and against top tier NBA talent at 17 years old? That's ridiculous. That's the stuff of Kobe.

4) Speaking of Kobe, in this game he reaffirmed that he's a cold-blooded killer on the court. It's a bizarre sensation to know that he's on my team, and to find myself rooting for him to get the ball on every possession, only to feel shame for, in effect, rooting against putting the ball in LeBron's hands. Where 'Melo is the assassin who misses his shot enough that I don't really fear him, Kobe is the one who makes me grab my chair so I don't visibly cower too much. Yes, he misses, and we can quantify what his actual impact is/was to a good degree, but his presence is so damn chilling it's impossible to ignore.

5) LeBron has found his calling as a power forward. It's too radical to happen on a full time basis, but what if someone used him at power forward and had him guard the weaker of the three or four if they're not going to Magic Pippen him into a scoring point-forward type?

Why can't the Cavs sack up and offer J.J. Hickson (NC State), Sasha Pavlovic, and Ben Wallace's expiring soon-to-expire contract to the Bobcats for Gerald Wallace, Nazr Mohammed, and Adam Morrison? Doesn't Mohammed make more sense coming off the bench than Big Ben? And isn't the gamble on Morrison ever being something useful worth the acquisition of a dynamic second banana like G-Force who can split the three-four position with Bron Bron? Isn't a front court of Big Z, Force, and LeBron suddenly a nightmare to defend?

For the Bobcats, they've pretty much put their eggs in the Emeka Okafor basket, and Hickson is much more likely to be the second quality big man they need to build an Emeka-themed squad than Mohammed or Alexis Ajinca. Ben Wallace would help ease the transition and provide more cash sooner when he expires at the end of the year 2009-10 season, which also happens to be the offseason that the vaunted Class of '03 hits full-fledged free agency.

6) R.I.P., trapezoidal key. I've been a huge proponent of the trapezoid for a long time, but FIBA's going to the rectangle within a couple years. Damn. We're losing a golden opportunity to improve the game.

7) This still wasn't the best talent the USA could put on the court. Tim Duncan. Kevin Garnett. Amare Stoudemire. I'd take them all over Boozer. Bosh is a monster and thus a tougher choice, but, again, I'd definitely take KG/TD over him, and probably AS. If we're talking about role players, guys with specific superior skills, especially if you don't want to take a potential defensive liability like Stoudemire, Marcus Camby's the man. I'd definitely put him on the short list of USA-caliber big men. Jason Kidd doesn't belong on the team as long as Baron Davis is still rocking like he rocks. Hell, Monta Ellis was drafted on the strength of his defense, so he might deserve a look ahead of Kidd as a second combo guard with Wade, pushing Deron Williams to more of a full time point guard role with Paul. Let's not forget that Michael Redd was mostly useless in this tournament, too, and someone like Paul Pierce, who showcased his defensive abilities and selflessness this year, might be a better choice to incorporate in the future.

8) I love Tayshaun Prince. I'm sure there are a few NBA players I love more, but my mancrush is clearly beyond reason.