COLORADO SPRINGS (Olympics) – USA Basketball have named 20 finalists for their men’s squad to play at the London Games, one that is full of members of the gold-medal winning sides at the Beijing Olympics and FIBA World Championship in Turkey.
Two players that didn't feature in either of those teams, Portland Trail Blazers big man LaMarcus Aldridge and Los Angeles Clippers dunking machine Blake Griffin, are also being given a chance to make this year's Olympic squad.
Aldridge has been in the USA Basketball set-up and blossomed into one of the best post players in the NBA the past couple of seasons.
He is averaging 22.8 points and 7.8 rebounds this season in helping the Blazers get off to a 7-5 start.
Los Angeles Clippers forward Griffin, after missing his entire rookie campaign because of injury, had a terrific 2010-11 and is now averaging 23.1 points and 11.10 rebounds.
The Clippers are off to a 6-3 start.
USA Basketball have included eight members from the team of four years ago, and 10 from the World Championship roster.
As expected, 2008 Olympic champions LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, Deron Williams, Dwight Howard and Chris Paul have been included.
Miami Heat star Wade had considered not playing after capturing the title in China but some of his gold-medal winning teammates urged him to continue.
Wade, James and Anthony also played at the Athens Games.
The Team USA co-captains from Turkey, Chauncey Billups and Lamar Odom (also a 2004 member), are named along with FIBA World Championship MVP Kevin Durant, reigning NBA MVP Derrick Rose, Kevin Love, Andre Iguodala, Eric Gordon, Tyson Chandler, Russell Westbrook and Rudy Gay.
One notable exclusion is 23-year-old sharpshooter Stephen Curry of Golden State, one of the most explosive scorers in the game who is currently sidelined with a right ankle injury.
Curry had an operation last May to repair instability in the ankle because of frequent sprains and has on three occasions this season hurt the ankle.
He played for the gold-medal winning Americans under coach Mike Krzyzewski in Turkey.
Finalists for the 2012 USA team: LaMarcus Aldridge (Portland Trail Blazers); Carmelo Anthony (New York Knicks); Chauncey Billups (Los Angeles Clippers); Chris Bosh (Miami Heat); Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers); Tyson Chandler (New York Knicks); Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder); Rudy Gay (Memphis Grizzlies); Eric Gordon (New Orleans Hornets); Blake Griffin (Los Angeles Clippers); Dwight Howard (Orlando Magic); Andre Iguodala (Philadelphia 76ers); LeBron James (Miami Heat); Kevin Love (Minnesota Timberwolves); Lamar Odom (Dallas Mavericks); Chris Paul (Los Angeles Clippers); Derrick Rose (Chicago Bulls); Dwyane Wade (Miami Heat); Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City Thunder); and Deron Williams (New Jersey Nets).