What appears to have been the last American Dream Team sure gave us a lot of entertainment. They appropriately destroyed Tunisia and Nigeria, and came up when it mattered against Spain, Argentina, and Lithuania. But now that it's all over it's time to wrap up and see what we learned.
1. LeBron is on the top of the world. By now he is unarguably the best player in the world, and the best player since the Jordan. I will still never love LeBron, but the things he can do on the court are just jaw-dropping. He scores at will, and is probably the second-best passer in the world (second to the Nash). He rebounds like a center and finally learned how to play in the post. It's actually frightening to think that he is only 27 and is only entering the prime of his career.
2. Small Ball can still be trumped. After the Thunder-Heat finals, in which Power Forwards and Centers seemed to be missing in action, people very quickly bought into the idea that playing four ultra-athletic guards, and a small forward for good measure, is the new state of basketball. However, as Spain showed us, being able to pound it inside is the most effective way of controlling the tempo of the game.
3. Kobe still has more than enough game. 17 points on 5-10 shooting is pretty impressive on its own, but throw in the fact that he had two in-and-out threes and sunk the three that finally sparked the fourth quarter comeback, and you have yourself a hell of a game.
4. The T-Wolves weren't crazy for signing Andre Kirilenko. The Olympics do nothing better than making average international players look like superstars, but I'm willing to be Kirilenko can ball again. He was the unquestioned leader of the bronze medal Russians, playing 36 of the 40 minute medal match. He's a volume scorer, a quality rebounder, and a lock down defender. I'm not crazy enough to say he's as good as LeBron or Durant, but he's the only other player with their skill set. The T-Wolves made a good gamble on him.
5. Pau Gasol still has fight. This will come as a shock to all Lakers fans, but it looks like Pau can show heart under the right circumstances. After two extremely disappointing playoffs from the Spaniard, it seems that if we can tap into his patriotism, we can get back the '08-'09 Pau.