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What’s the Worst Team USA Roster That Could Still Win Gold?

Getty Images/Ringer illustration
Getty Images/Ringer illustration

Numerous NBA players have withdrawn themselves from Team USA consideration in the upcoming Rio Olympics, citing injuries and concerns related to the Zika virus. The U.S. men’s basketball team that will take the court in August could be the weakest in more than a decade, which prompted us here at The Ringer to ponder: What’s the worst starting rotation that Team USA could roll out and still conceivably win gold? Here are our picks:

Team Chris Ryan

  • PG: Derrick Rose
  • SG: Danny Green
  • SF: Jabari Parker
  • PF: Aaron Gordon
  • C: Hassan Whiteside

Outside of Green there’s not much shooting, but who cares? We’ve got Whiteside. We’re never going to fail.

Team Tate Frazier

  • PG: Ish Smith
  • SG: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
  • SF: O.J. Mayo
  • PF: John Henson
  • C: Hassan Whiteside

Two options: run the primary break with Ish Smith, the fastest man with a basketball, or feed Whiteside in the post … ALL DAY!

Team Jonathan Tjarks

  • PG: Brandon Jennings
  • SG: Zach LaVine
  • SF: Lance Stephenson
  • PF: Doug McDermott
  • C: JaVale McGee

I don’t think this lineup needs any justification. We’re burning down the Olympics and reinventing basketball over here.

Team Juliet Litman (also Team Molly McHugh)

  • PG: Damian Lillard
  • SG: C.J. McCollum
  • SF: Allen Crabbe
  • PF: Mason Plumlee
  • C: Ed Davis

I think the 2015–16 Blazers could win gold, even if I have to sub in Davis and Crabbe because Al-Farouq Aminu and Maurice Harkless have played internationally for Nigeria and Puerto Rico, respectively.

Team Ryan O’Hanlon

  • C: Jahlil Okafor
  • PF: Terrence Jones
  • SF: Shabazz Muhammad
  • SG: Archie Goodwin
  • PG: Terry Rozier

By real plus-minus, this is the worst-possible team the Americans could throw together. Coach K would figure it out.

Team Sam Schube

  • PG: Rajon Rondo
  • SG: Ray Allen (retired)
  • SF: Tony Allen
  • PF: Paul Pierce
  • C: Kevin Garnett

The still-active members (plus Ray Allen) of the 2008 title-winning Celtics would bully their way through this year’s Olympic field. ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE.

Team Danny Chau

  • PG: Evan Turner
  • SG: Kawhi Leonard
  • SF: Kyle Korver
  • PF: Carmelo Anthony
  • C: Solomon Hill

Midrange is the answer, midrange is the future. Don’t second-guess yourself. Come on, give me some help.

Team Jason Concepcion

  • PG: Reggie Jackson
  • SG: Arron Afflalo
  • SF: A Morris brother (or both, who can tell?)
  • PF: Ryan Anderson
  • C: Cole Aldrich

This lineup has ball handling (maybe too much ball handling), a rugged midrange game (shouts out to Turner), a world-class long-range shooter to stretch the floor, Cole Aldrich, AND [extremely Coors Light commercial voice] TWIIIIIIIIIIINS. Gimme that gold.

Team Intern (Chris Almeida, Carl Brooks Jr., Gabriel Fisher, Zach Kram)

Not only would this squad bring home the gold, but they’d spend the whole tournament entertaining fans around the world with their freestyle cyphers.

Team Sam Donsky

  • C: Kendrick Perkins
  • PF: Jeff Green
  • SF: James Harden
  • SG: Reggie Jackson
  • PG: Scott Brooks

I put this team together using the strategy commonly known as “Reverse Thunder,” which hasn’t lost a basketball tournament yet.

Team Jason Gallagher

  • PG: Chris Paul (He’s officially backed out, but let’s make an exception for imagination’s sake. Or their neighborly State Farm agent can fill in.)
  • SG: Damian Lillard
  • SF: Kevin Love
  • PF: Kevin Garnett
  • C: DeAndre Jordan

The Hoopers take a family vacation.