OKC Thunder: Don't expect James Harden to make U.S. Olympic roster

The U.S. Olympic team is already guard heavy, so Harden might have to wait until 2016
by Darnell Mayberry Published: July 1, 2012
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Never before has one NBA team had three American-born players represent their country at the summer Olympics.

It could happen in the 2012 Olympic Games, and the Oklahoma City Thunder is one of the teams that have a chance to pull the feat.

When the USA Basketball Men's National Team convenes in Las Vegas on Thursday for the start of its weeklong training camp, the Thunder will have three finalists for the 12-member Olympic team in Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Kevin Durant. The Los Angeles Clippers will be the only other team that has three finalists thanks to recently acquired forward Lamar Odom joining up with Chris Paul and Blake Griffin.

But don't expect the Thunder to land three players on this year's team.

The chance of Oklahoma City having three representatives in London was beginning to look good due to some of the league's most decorated players falling victim to the injury bug.

Portland forward LaMarcus Aldridge had season-ending hip surgery in April. Orlando center Dwight Howard underwent back surgery in late April. Miami forward Chris Bosh recently pulled out of consideration to continue to heal from an abdominal strain, and his Heat teammate, Dwyane Wade, did the same to undergo knee surgery this summer.

Wade is the one who really opened the door for the Thunder.

Westbrook and Durant are virtual locks to make the final team. They should become the ninth different set of teammates to compete in the summer Olympics since the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) opened the competition to NBA players in 1989. New York's tandem of Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler, as well as some mix of the Clippers' trio, figures to increase that tally.

Harden, however, remains on the bubble.

With no Wade, the U.S. team has a spot for the reigning Sixth Man of the Year to join his All-Star teammates in London. But the team already is guard-heavy, and Harden faces long odds to beat out his competition for what is shaping up to be the final spot.

It's safe to pencil in Paul, Westbrook, Durant, Anthony, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Deron Williams for London. All seven of those players are perimeter-oriented, with Anthony and James being most capable of serving as big men in the international style of play.

That leaves five spots.

Of the traditional post players left available, Chandler and Minnesota power forward Kevin Love are almost assured of spots. Their mix of size, defense and rebounding will be vital to the team.

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by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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