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Who will be the biggest hoops star not to make the Olympic team?

January 17, 2012 |  9:50 am

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Writers from around the Tribune Co. discuss who will -- and won't -- make the U.S. Olympic basketball roster, which needs to be pared down from 20 to a final 12 by June 18. Check back throughout the day for more responses and join the discussion with a comment of your own.

K.C. Johnson, Chicago Tribune

Wow, where do you start? All eight cuts will be big names with this talent pool. And don't forget: Six will remain as alternates and injuries could occur. That said, drum roll please, I see Blake Griffin standing when the musical chairs stop.

Yes, international basketball rewards athleticism, which Griffin owns, of course, in abundance. However, it also rewards defensive versatility. And this is where I see Team USA officials picking the less flashy LaMarcus Aldridge to back up Kevin Durant at power forward. (This assumes Chris Bosh plays center with Dwight Howard.) Aldridge may not be as flashy or athletic as Griffin but he's a better overall basketball player. He defends multiple positions, he rebounds, he's smart.

Plus, Team USA has an abundance of versatile guards so Russell Westbrook might sit because someone like Chauncey Billups might be kept because he can handle a reduced role plus play both guard positions. I know this: These will be tough decisions.

Todd M. Adams, Orlando Sentinel

Recently, USA Basketball took a different approach to choosing its roster. Instead of using the selection as an award for NBA greatness, team chairman Jerry Colangelo and coach Mike Krzyzewski started giving more thought to building a cohesive team.

That means balancing the roster, which is why the biggest name left off this year’s team is bound to come from the NBA’s strongest position, point guard.

To illustrate, Boston’s All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo didn’t even make the roster cut down to 20. And a couple of guys who did, like the Clippers’ Chauncey Billups and Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook, really have no chance at making the team, either.

That’s because there are three phenomenal players at that position in the Clippers’ Chris Paul, New Jersey’s Deron Williams and Chicago’s Derek Rose. With no need for three point guards, probably only two will make the team, and my guess is Williams will be left off.

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Photo: Clippers' Blake Griffin and New Jersey's Deron Williams chase a loose ball. Credit: Paul Buck / EPA

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