More 'B Team' than 'Dream Team' as U.S. eyes Rio basketball gold

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Team USA's Olympic Basketball Roster Is Missing Some Big Names

No Stephen Curry? No LeBron James? No problem. Despite missing the game's two best players the U.S. men's basketball team are still the slam dunk favorite to return home from the Rio Olympics with the gold medal.

With many top players turning down a chance to throw on the Stars and Stripes, the U.S. squad are more "B Team" than "Dream Team" but are nonetheless a frightening collection of talent capable of providing Olympic-size nightmares for opponents.

SEE MORE: Check out everything you need to know about Rio 2016

Among other Americans choosing to skip the Aug. 5-21 Rio Games are National Basketball Association All-Stars Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul, James Harden, Blake Griffin, John Wall, Kawhi Leonard and Anthony Davis.

For any other country, losing nearly all of their "A Team" would cripple their medal hopes. But such is the depth of basketball talent in the United States that their absence has barely caused a ripple of concern.

It would be difficult to label any lineup that boasts former NBA Most Valuable Player Kevin Durant, 2016 NBA champion Kyrie Irving and two-time Olympic gold medalist Carmelo Anthony a "B Team" yet that will be the perception.

But the fact is even if Team USA managing director Jerry Colangelo was forced to dive deeper into the American talent pool the United States would still be expected to surface with a gold medal on the final day of Rio Games.

"We are blessed with a lot of talent here in the USA, we have the ability to withstand players dropping out for various reasons," Colangelo told Reuters in a telephone interview. "With the depth of our national team roster we were able to select a very strong team."

While Team USA will have only two players with Olympic experience, the two men at the top, Colangelo and head coach Mike Krzyzewski, bring stability and an unmatched winning pedigree to Rio.

Krzyzewski, a legendary college coach at Duke University, has guided the United States to gold medals at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics and the 2010 and 2014 FIBA World Cups.


Great moments from the Summer Olympics
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Great moments from the Summer Olympics
Mary Lou Retton at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, Calif., Aug. 1, 1984. (AP Photo)
Mildred Didrikson of Dallas, Texas at the Olympic Stadium Los Angeles July 31, 1932 when she sent the javelin soaring 143 feet 4 inches to better by more than 11 feet the former mark held by E. Braumiller of Germany. (AP Photo)
Babe Didrikson, second from right, leads her USA teammate, Evelyne Hall, right, over the last hurdle to win the women's 80-meter hurdles at the 1932 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, August 4, 1932. Didrikson's time of 11.7 seconds set a world and Olympic record. (AP Photo)
Alice Coachman of Tuskegee about to snap the tape to win the 100 meter run in the Woman's National AAU Track and Field championships, Aug. 5, 1946. Coming up a close second, left, is Stella Walsh, running for the Polish-Olympic WAC, Cleveland. (AP Photo)
High jumper Dick Fosbury of the United States is shown in October 1968, debuting his celebrated "Fosbury Flop," during the Summer Olympics in Mexico City. "The Flop" revolutionized high jumping, and Fosbury went on to win the gold medal with a leap of 7 feet and 4 and 1/4 inches. (AP Photo)
Bob Beamon astonished the world in October1968 when he leaped 29 feet 2-1/2 in., about two feet more than the existing long jump record, to capture a gold medal in the Olympic Games in Mexico City.(AP PHOTO)
Bob Beamon of El Paso, Texas digs his feet into the sand pit after a record-shattering long jump of 8.90 meters on his first attempt in the Summer Olympic Games in Mexico City, Friday Oct. 18, 1968. (AP PHOTO)
Bob Beamon is shown in his record-breaking long jump that won him a gold medal on October 18, 1968 during the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. (AP Photo)
Heavyweight boxer George Foreman is seen during his bout with Russia's Iones Chepulis during their Olympic finals in Mexico City, Oct. 27, 1968. Foreman captured the gold medal. (AP Photo)
American heavyweight boxer George Foreman of Pleasanton, California, waves an American flag after winning the Olympic gold medal at the Mexico City games on Oct. 27, 1968. Foreman won by a technical knockout in the second round against Iones Chepulis of Russia. (AP Photo/Kurt Strumpf)
Winners of the heavyweight division of Olympic boxing, (from left to right) silver medalist Ionas Chepulis of Russia, American gold medalist George Foreman, and joint bronze medalists, Giorgio Bambini of Italy and Joaquin Rocha of Mexico are seen in the ring after medal presentations, October 27, 1968 at the Olympic Games in Mexico City. (AP Photo)
Ulrike Meyfarth, 16, of West Germany goes over the bar at 1.92 meters to win the world record and win a gold medal in the 1972 Olympic Games women's high jump event at the Munich Olympic Stadium, Sept. 4, 1972. (AP Photo)
Smiling happily is Ulrike Meyfarth, 16, of West Germany after winning the gold medal in the high jump for women in the 1972 Munich Olympics. She jumped 1.92 metres, setting a new Olympic record. (AP Photo)
Nadia Comaneci from Romania performs an excellent balanced jump on the horse vault during compulsory events and optional exercises, July 18,1976 in Montreal at the Summer Olympic Games. (AP Photo)
Romania's top gymnast Nadia Comaneci performs on the balance beam on July 18, 1976 during the Summer Olympic Games in Montreal, Canada. (AP Photo)
Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci, 14, performs a flip on the balance beam en route to a gold medal in the event during the Olympic Games in Montreal, Quebec, Canada on July 22, 1976. (AP Photo/Stephanie Maze)
Romania's Nadia Comaneci, 14, performs her part of the balance beam routine Thursday July 23, 1976 in Olympic competition in Montreal. This multiple exposure study points out the grace of her movements, leading to a gold medal and a perfect score in the event. (AP Photo/Suzanne Vlamis)
Sugar Ray Leonard in action against Ulrich Beyer July 27,1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal. Leonard later won the Gold Medal in the light Welterweight class (140 lbs). (AP Photo)
American boxer Sugar Ray Leonard raises his arms in victory after defeating Ulrich Beyer of East Germany to qualify for the final bout, at the XXI Summer Olympics in Montreal, Canada, on July 27, 1976. (AP Photo)
Sugar Ray Leonard of Palmer Park, Md., right, throws a right at Kazmier Szczerba of Poland during the light welterweight boxing match at the XXI Summer Olympic Games in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, on July 29, 1976. Leonard won the match. (AP Photo)
Soviet world champion gymnast Aleksandr Dityatin swings up during his performance on the horizontal bars that earned him a 9.95 score during men's team gymnastics event Thursday, July 24, 1980 at the Moscow Olympics. The Soviet, 22, became the first man ever to score a perfect ten for the vault and won the gold medal in the all-around category of the event. (AP Photo)
Alexander Dityatin of USSR performs on the rings during the apparatus final of the Olympics, July 25, 1980 in Moscow. He took the gold medal with a score of 19.875. (AP Photo/Maze)
Joan Benoit shown running at the Olympic women's marathon in Los Angeles. She won the gold medal. (AP Photo/Ron Heflin)
Freeport, Maine's Joan Benoit, carries an American flag after finishing the first-ever women's marathon in the 1984 Summer Games August 5, 1984 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The 27-year-old Benoit finished the 26-mile, 385-yard distance in 2.24:52. (AP Photo/Sadayuki Mikami)
U.S. runner Joan Benoit of Freeport, Maine, waves the American flag on Aug 5, 1984 after her gold medal win in the women's marathon that concluded in Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. (AP Photo/Lennox McLendon)
U.S. runner Joan Benoit of Freeport, Maine, waves the American flag on Aug 5, 1984 after her gold medal win in the women's marathon that concluded in Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. (AP Photo/Lennox McLendon)
Romania's Ecaterina Szabo, who is a favorite for a gold medal at the Summer Olympics, is pictured at Stadtallendorf on July 5, 1984, during her team's gymnastic contest vs. West Germany. (AP Photo/Kurt Strumpf)
Romania's Ecaterina Szabo, is shown July 30, 1984 during balance beam where she finished second to teamate Simona Pakea at the 1984 summer Olympics in Los Angeles. (AP Photo)
Mary Lou Retton of team USA is shown during her perfect performance in the floor exercise in the Olympic individual all-around finals in Los Angeles, Calif., on Aug. 3, 1984 during the Summer Olympics. Retton edged out Ecaterina Szabo of Romania for the gold medal. (AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau)
Mary Lou Retton of Fairmount, Va. leaps in the air after scoring a perfect 10 on the vault in her final routine to win the women's all-around gymnastics gold medal at the Olympics in Los Angeles, Calif., Friday, Aug. 4, 1984. (AP Photo)
Mary Lou Retton, foreground, with her gold medal and Ecaterina Szabo with her silver medal at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, Calif., Aug. 5, 1984. (AP Photo)
Mary Lou Retton celebrates her balance beam score at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles on Aug. 3, 1984. Retton, 16, became the first American woman ever to win an individual Olympic gold medal in gymnastics. (AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau)
American gymnast Mary Lou Retton on the uneven bars at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, Calif., Aug. 5, 1984. (AP Photo)
American gymnast Mary Lou Retton celebrates after a victory at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, Calif., Aug.12, 1984. (AP Poto)
Mary Lou Retton of the USA beams after winning the gold medal in Olympics individual all-around gymnastics competition Aug. 3, 1984. (AP Photo)
American gymnast Mary Lou Retton celebrates after a victory at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, Calif., Aug.12, 1984. (AP Poto)
Mary Lou Retton, of the U.S.A., performs on the balance beam during the women's gymnastics individual all-around finals at the XXIII Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles, Calif., on Aug. 3, 1984. (AP Photo/Suzanne Vlamis)
American gymnast Mary Lou Retton during her balance beam routine at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, Calif., Aug. 3, 1984. (AP Photo)
USA's Michael Jordan sails high above teammate Magic Johnson knocking away a shot during the first half of their preliminary round basketball game with Croatia at the Summer Olympics in Barcelona Monday, July 27, 1992. (AP Photo/Susan Ragan)
The USA's Magic Johnson drives the court against Croatia's Drazen Petrovic during the First half of their preliminary round basketball game at the XXV Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Monday, July 27, 1992. (AP Photo/Ed Reinke)

In Olympic competition, the United States are on a 17-game unbeaten run that dates back to the bronze medal game of the 2004 Athens Olympics.

Since taking control of the U.S. national team in 2005, Colangelo's teams have compiled a stellar 75-1 record and are on a 63-game win streak that is expected to continue in Rio.

But for all the gold medals won, it is the one loss Colangelo recalls with vivid clarity when a team that included James, Anthony, Dwyane Wade, Tim Duncan and Chris Paul fell to Greece in the semi-finals of the 2006 world championships.

"That loss proved the point that on any given night a team that hits their shots, makes their free throws, doesn't turn the ball over and you miss your free throws and turn the ball over (a loss) can happen and it did happen," said Colangelo.

"That loss really had a lot to do with our preparation and mindset going forward."

It was a lesson learned. The United States have not tasted defeat in the 12 years since.

Losses on Olympic hardwood are rare for the United States, which have an all-time record of 130-5 in Games competition and will be expected to add to the win column as they chase a third consecutive gold medal.

They may not match up with the U.S. "Dream Team" from the 1992 Games that included 11 future Hall of Fame players, but the current squad possess everything needed to reach the top of podium again.

Durant was third in NBA scoring last season by averaging 28.2 points per game while DeMar DeRozan and Paul George were also in the top 10.

Guards Irving and Kyle Lowry will be the floor generals while DeAndre Jordan will anchor the defense.

The United States may not dominate the way they did in Beijing and London but there are no holes or glaring weakness.

"There is certainly enough shooting, a couple of players are outstanding shooters. Durant and Klay (Thompson) and Kyrie are three of the outstanding shooters in basketball," said Colangelo. "Each Olympics is a challenge and each one is a little bit different.

"Our biggest rival is ourselves. If we take care of business, if we maintain our focus, if we keep our eye on the prize then all things should work out because of our talent and coaching."

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