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Louie Traub, Associated Press
Players, including Deron Williams (second from left) huddle with coach Mike Krzyzewksi during a timeout in Friday's game.

When it comes to the 2008 United States men's Olympic basketball team and it's go-for-the-gold goal at the 2008 Beijing Games, the point is ...

A three-headed monster called Paul-Williams-Kidd.

That would be the trio of elite NBA point guards in Chris Paul of the New Orleans Hornets, Jason Kidd of the Dallas Mavericks and the Utah Jazz's own Deron Williams.

They share similarities, and they're ready to deploy their differences.

"We're all different, with different strengths," said Williams, who along with Paul is a first-time Olympian. "Me and J-Kidd are bigger, more physical point guards. Chris is smaller and quicker than us.

"We bring different aspects," he added. "But at the same time, we're pretty simple point guards — we're pass-first point guards who can also score."

Kidd is the veteran, not only of the point-guard trio but of the entire '08 U.S. team. He was a member of the last American squad to claim the men's basketball gold — at the 2000 Sydney Games. All three already have experience being on-court pilots for Team USA and head coach Mike Krzyzewski. Paul played the point at the 2006 World Championships, while Williams backed up Kidd at the 2007 FIBA Americas Championship last summer, when the United States qualified for the Beijing Games.

For Williams, it was a dream come true to team up with his boyhood idol, having grown up as a Dallas teenager watching Kidd in his first Mavericks stint. Williams quickly attached himself to Kidd in practice and pre-game workouts last year.

"That was a great sight," said Kidd of being shadowed by Williams. "'D' wants to get better, and he works on it every day. We look forward to him making me better and for me trying to push him to be the best player he can be."

Paul sizes up the threesome this way: "J-Kidd is the guy that has unbelievable court vision — a lot of times, he's pass-first — plus his size and his knack to hit guys when you never expect it," he said. "D-Will — he's so herky-jerky. He can score in any way. And me, I'm sorta the speed guy.

"So, all of us have our different things we like to do," he added. "It definitely gives our team a lot of versatility."

Besides going solo at the point, that versatility includes getting paired up together along the guard line or even watching other teammates like Kobe Bryant, LeBron James or even Carmelo Anthony take over the ball-handling chores.

"Coach K let us know there will be times when me and D-Will might play together, or J-Kidd and D-Will together," Paul said. "Even if it's not two of the three (point) guards — when you're out there with Kobe, LeBron and Carmelo and all these guys, you get the opportunity to play off the ball a little bit, which we normally don't get to do."

Some have criticized Kidd's inclusion on the '08 Olympic squad. But proponents cite his leadership opportunities and his 44-0 record when playing for the United States in senior-level international competition — including a 10-0 mark when playing at the 2007 FIBA Americas tournament.

Williams, who made his U.S. senior team debut last summer by sharing the same 10-0 U.S. mark, may be in line to inherit Kidd's role and undefeated record.

"I think it's great to have him on the team, to get him some experience to be able to keep running the show," Kidd said of Williams. "I don't know if Deron has been on a team that has lost — I know Chris has lost (at the '06 Worlds). So maybe Deron has the advantage right now."


E-mail: taylor@desnews.com