Like every Olympics, Team USA has a star studded roster. You could make a legitimate case that any player on the roster is the most important player to Team USA’s success. Every player from Kevin Love to LeBron James to Anthony Davis is truly vital to team USA’s quest for the gold medal.
But I’m going to go off the beaten path and say that Tyson Chandler is the key to the United States gold medal hopes. Yes THAT Tyson Chandler – the same one who averaged 11.3 points per game and 9.9 rebounds per game for the New York Knicks last season. The same Tyson Chandler who for a time was possibly considered a bust like his former Chicago Bull teammate Eddy Curry.
Consider this simple truth: Tyson Chandler is the only center on Team USA’s roster. You could say that Love, Davis, or maybe even LeBron could play the five in a pinch. But against a team like Spain, (who has two world class centers in the brothers Gasol) none of that trio will cut it. They need Chandler to be effective.
So far, Chandler hasn’t played much. Against France, the 7’1 center started but only played 11 minutes. He had 9 rebounds, though, showing how effective that he can be. He only scored 8 points, but Team USA doesn’t need him to score – they have countless players that can do that.
The other thing to consider about Chandler is that, like I alluded to before, no one on the roster can truly replace him. If he goes down, Team USA has no centers on the roster. If someone like LeBron, Kevin Durant, or Carmelo Anthony goes down, then Team USA can stick someone else and in and the American team still has the best wing scorers in the world. If Chandler goes down, a black hole exists in the middle of Team USA’s lineup that cannot be replaced.
I probably sound crazy to you by saying a non-great center is the most important player on Team USA’s roster. But I’m the only one who think that – Sports Illustrated senior NBA writer Ian Thomsen made the same basic argument in a recent article. So, at the very least, consider the idea that Tyson Chandler is the most important player on the U.S. roster. Just think of the team without him, and how a game a Spain would go without Chandler on the roster. Maybe then you’ll come around.