Steinmetz: Team USA needs inside help

There will be no mock draft in this space.

After predicting the Los Angeles Lakers to beat the Boston Celtics in five games in the NBA Finals, the last thing I’m going to do is give myself 30 more chances to be wrong.

Allow me, however, to second-guess the U.S. Olympic team’s roster and foreshadow difficulty this summer at the Beijing Games in August for Team USA.

Don’t get me wrong, the team is in reliable hands with guards Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Deron Williams, Dwyane Wade and Michael Redd.

It’s the frontcourt that’s the problem. Not enough talent, not enough depth.

Dwight Howard, Carlos Boozer and Chris Bosh are the only power forwards and centers on the roster. All three are nice players, no doubt, but none of them brings to the table what a Kevin Garnett, Amare Stoudemire, Tim Duncan or Elton Brand does. Each of those four is taking a pass in 2008, which left Team USA managing director Jerry Colangelo a tad short on options.

But he didn’t do himself any favors with the direction he went in. Of the three Team USA big men, only Boozer is a legitimate low-post presence. Howard can be a man among boys, but he has little to no offensive game to speak of.

Bosh can go down to the low post, but he prefers the comfort of the perimeter.

Everyone knows that the international game isn’t a back-to-the-basket game; it’s more of a spread-the-floor offense. But there will come a time when Team USA will have to go inside and the Americans might find themselves wanting down there.

International big men tend to be clever and crafty, displaying an ability to draw fouls on offense and take charges on defense. The U.S. is missing at least one more competent big body, ideally a player who can do a little bit of everything: score inside, rebound and play a touch of defense.

This team needs a David West, Chris Wilcox or even Chris Kaman.

Those guys don’t seem like Olympians, you might counter. You’re right. On this team, they’d be role players, which right now don’t exist on the roster.

Think about it, Team USA is going to be perimeter-oriented. It has to be because that’s where most of the talent resides. So doesn’t it behoove them to find a big man or two who can be effective when they’re not the No. 1 option?

West, Wilcox and Kaman aren’t high-maintenance players. They don’t get spoon-fed the ball in the low post countless times a game and their respective teams’ offenses don’t revolve around them.

Team USA’s offense wouldn’t revolve around them, either. Boozer, Howard and Bosh, though, are used to lots of touches — and they’re not going to get them.

So get used to the term “small ball.” It’s going to be the only way Team USA brings home gold this summer.

Matt Steinmetz is the NBA insider for Warriors telecasts on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.

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