Seeing as how olympic basketball falls nicely into the gaping hole usually left by almost nothing happening in the NBA we decided to focus on questions regarding 2016 Rio Olympics Basketball. Oh and we put one wildcard in there about sports figures and their roles in social issues to gauge opinion on that too.
(All answers submitted by August 7th)
#1 Which team if any do you see as possibly challenging Team USA in the Olympics?
Glenn Metzger (GM260): This year? Spain is probably the closest to possibly challenging. I like the potential of France, Australia, and Canada as their young players join the teams and continue to improve, and I think they'll be able to present more of a challenge to Team USA in the future.
Ben Quagliata: I would've said France, but not after the shitshow they put up against Australia. Call it bias, but I think the Aussies will go close. Spain as well.
Steve Hinson: Spain is always the top choice, but not having Marc Gasol will hurt. So probably not anyone - but Australia could be a fun challenge.
Justin Lambregtse: I don't really see any team challenging team USA. I guess if I had to pick one I would say Spain just because they are pretty good most years. I also don't know enough about international basketball to really know what teams are good.
Jordan Bellant (JDBell20): There are two safe answers (France and Spain), but I've been impressed by the Serbian squad. I think it's a team that could frustrate the US. They are my dark-horse for the Silver. I watched them in the qualifying tournament and I believe they could be difficult. Only because they take care of the basketball, rebound well and play a very physical style. If they can find some shooting, I think they could keep a game within 10-15 of the Americans. It's a great opportunity for Nikola Jokic and Milos Teodosic to showcase their game.
Kevin Sawyer: I think France could give them a lot of trouble. Gobert, Batum and Parker could match up with any three U.S. starters, and they go into their bench with legitimate NBA talent. Ironically, while team U.S.A. has their weakest roster in a while, their squad is probably especially well suited to the international game more than ever. But if they have to play France and Spain back to back, I think their chances at gold are about 75-80%.
David Fernandez: I'm siding with Croatia as the dark horse to give USA a run for their money, after coming off a nail-biter against Spain. They have some promising and more important, young players on their current roster including Dario Saric and Mario Hezonja.
Vincent Diringer: I would have said France a couple days ago, but seeing Bogut and the Boomers bash them over the head certainly challenged that view. I think Australia, potentially Spain might be able to be physical enough to push Team USA.
#2 Given the obvious domination of Team USA do you think it would be better to go back to the team being made up of non-NBA players?
Glenn Metzger (GM260): No, because it seems too much like Team USA would be doing it to make us more likable to the rest of the world, and I don't think it would work. Other countries don't exclude their best athletes to give USA a better chance in other events. I don't think USA basketball should do it either.
Ben Quagliata: There's no point. Play to win.
Steve Hinson: Maybe if Canada puts out a hockey team with no NHL players. Nah, there's nothing wrong with US being the favorites and they've been knocked off before.
Justin Lambregtse: Other teams use their pro players so why shouldn't the USA? If NBA players want to play, then they should be allowed to. Why stop letting them play just because they are significantly better than the rest of the world?
Jordan Bellant (JDBell20): I would like to see a squad made up of younger players. Maybe 25 and under? I think this should be reviewed after this Olympics. I would like to see USA basketball go with a possible age restriction. I can see younger players jumping at the chance to play, especially with Gregg Popovich taking over the team for the near future.
Kevin Sawyer: Would it be better to go back to losing in the Olympics? No. What would be the point of that? If the goal is a showcase for basketball, Dream Teams are the way to go. If the goal is parity, our collegians can't compete with France and Spain. The better outcome all the way around is for other countries to go even further in developing talent to compete with the United States.
David Fernandez: I personally enjoy watching the pros play against foreign competition. I honestly feel like a collegiate team wouldn't be strong enough against veteran foreign squads, many of which boast multiple NBA players, and I thoroughly watching USA bring home the gold.
Vincent Diringer: Well, the whole point of the Olympics is to field the best talent available, but this USA squad doesn't even have all of the best players on its' roster. I say let the NBAers play.
#3 (Wildcard) With Carmelo Anthony and Michael Jordan both stepping outside the game to voice their opinions on race relations, what level of responsibility do sports figures have to elevate social issues due to their stature as media icons?
Glenn Metzger (GM260): I don't see it as a responsibility, but I think when you have a voice like they do it is commendable to speak up for something you value. I think putting yourself at risk of criticism or backlash goes a long way toward helping people feel like they are not alone in a situation and lets them know that somebody cares.
Ben Quagliata: There's no responsibility or inherent obligation to speak up just because you're famous and influential. If you do, great, if not, shouldn't diminish you as a person.
Steve Hinson: None. They have an opportunity if they choose to use but you often see folks with that opportunity doing as much harm as good - think Jenny McCarthy and vaccines. Great that MJ and Melo want to make a positive social impact, but that doesn't mean that all players are obliged to speak out on issues.
Justin Lambregtse: I don't think sports figures have a level of responsiblity to elevate social issues. Their job is to play the sport that they love and entertain the fans doing that. However, I have no issue with them wanting to step up and voice their opinions. They are looked up to by so many people that their opinions can carry a lot of weight and impact those people.
Jordan Bellant (JDBell20): I wouldn't call it a responsibility. But I do believe players should use their voice and influence, when they see fit. I think it's difficult for players to assume an opinion on all issues regarding race. I loved Michael Jordan's comments and charitable donations. That's the correct way to use your status to promote positive change. But all players shouldn't feel inclined to do the same.
Kevin Sawyer: Depends on whether they are knowledgeable on said social issue and able to articulate a clear and coherent position. I think both Jordan and Anthony (and, more recently, Benjamin Watson) have shown well, whether or not we agree with what they have to say. But I don't believe there is an inherent obligation to engage, especially when the answers are not clear cut.
David Fernandez: The level of responsibility depends on the individual. It's hard to categorically declare whether athletes should or should not voice their opinions; for instance I do believe the likes of LeBron James and Michael Jordan have a responsibility to speak on social issues simply because the platform on which they speak can produce positive action, while I do not feel the same sense of responsibility on players like Jameer Nelson and Ish Smith.
Vincent Diringer: A lot. I really liked that both of them spoke up, and even more so that they made well-worded statements without really adding fuel to the fire. As public figures, their voices mean a lot, and its good to see them actually use it to promote a good cause.