After helping to lead the US to the World Championship in 2010, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook were named as two of 20 finalists for the 2012 Olympic team in London.
The two Thunder stars were able to get their chance to shine on the international stage as most of the stars from the 2008 Olympic team -- LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Chris Bosh, Carmelo Anthony and Dwight Howard -- sat out the World Championships in Turkey.
However, they have all returned to be a part of the player pool for the 2012 team, which means the senior men's national team, led by Jerry Colangelo and coached by Mike Krzyzewski, will have some tough decisions ahead of them in winnowing the roster to 12:
"I feel like we have an outstanding blend of talents from the 2008 Olympic and 2010 World Championship teams that won gold," said Colangelo in a press release. "Reducing to 12 players will be an even tougher decision, but we'll evaluate how guys play during the 2011-12 NBA season and as we've done with our teams in the past, we'll attempt to select the very best team we can."
Durant, the leading scorer in the World Championships, is a shoe-in for the 2012 team, but Westbrook will have a much tougher battle making the roster.
With a gold medal rematch with a much improved Spanish team looming, one that features both the Gasol brothers, Thunder PF Serge Ibaka as well as Minnesota Timberwolves rookie sensation Ricky Rubio, the US will need a balanced roster that carries more big men than they have in recent years.
That means the competition for back-court spots will be fierce, as the team will likely take no more than three point guards, pitting Westbrook against Derrick Rose, Paul and Williams.