Anthony Davis' Team USA Future Begins Now

July 12, 2012; Las Vegas, NV, USA; United States guard Anthony Davis (14) defends against the Dominican Republic in the second half at the Thomas and Mack Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE

Anthony Davis looms large for the future of USA Basketball. Because of injuries to others, that future begins now.

Anthony Davis was one of those unquestioned No. 1 picks that seems to come around about every other year. Kyrie Irving was unquestioned only because so many talented prospects stayed away from the 2011 NBA Draft. Had the full complement of players declared, including Harrison Barnes, Jared Sullinger and Perry Jones III, Irving may have had some competition. In 2010, John Wall had no competition. The same applied to Blake Griffin in 2009 and LeBron James in 2003. Davis is in that club: He was too dominant at Kentucky and his profile is too strong for any GM to have seriously considered taking the otherwise fantastic Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Bradley Beal or Thomas Robinson No. 1.

The New Orleans Hornets won the right to pick Davis, and the lanky kid will anchor what promises to be a high-powered frontcourt in the Crescent City. After drafting Davis, the Hornets worked out a sign-and-trade for shooter Ryan Anderson; what Anderson lacks in defensive acumen, Davis can cover. What Davis lacks in perimeter skills, Anderson can cover. It looks like a promising start.

For our purposes, this summer could mark a promising start for Davis with Team USA. Davis was added to the final team heading to London after Blake Griffin, one of three players selected at the last minute, suffered an injury. Davis had been named a finalist contender months ago based on the strength of his performance in Lexington, and that apparently gave him the edge over established NBA big men like DeMarcus Cousins (who had not been a finalist).

Team USA is famously low on big men right now; only Tyson Chandler is a true center, and LeBron James projects to be the team's starting power forward for the entire tournament. Because of Griffin's injury, other than Davis, Kevin Love (who can soak big minutes if he rebounds against international competition like he does in the NBA) is the team's only other true big man. Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Durant are options at power forward in small line-ups, but neither should be playing center except against the smallest of teams (and certainly not against Spain or Brazil). Chandler is known to get dinged up. Because of all of that, there's a real chance that Davis gets a real chance in London.

If he does, it's imperative that he provide just what Team USA needs: defense and rebounding. Scoring will never be a problem with this team, and perimeter defense shouldn't be, either, with LeBron and Andre Iguodala in place. But the field includes some speedy guards (hello, Tony Parker and Patty Mills) and the Americans lack another shotblocker other than Davis. So he'll be depended upon to guard the rim once he's in the game.

Looking forward, Davis projects to be a future starter for Team USA, possibly next to Griffin, Love, Cousins or LaMarcus Aldridge (also injured this year). Defense is always a priority on Team USA, because the national program will always be able to pull up scorers. (Witness the 2012 bench, despite injury problems: Melo, Russell Westbrook, Deron Williams, Love ... all 20-point scorers in the NBA. Guh.) Davis is one of the best defensive prospects the NBA has seen in years, ergo, Davis figures to loom largely in Team USA's efforts at domination.

It all begins later this month.

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