Some trash-talking by Kobe Bryant has somehow ignited a controversy about whether the USA Olympic Basketball Team could defeat the “Dream Team” of 1992. This writer thinks that the comparison is preposterous. A better question would be whether this team could defeat our last Olympic team (2008).
This year’s team is missing several players that would have made the team, but declined to participate in order to recover from injuries. Dwayne Wade was the leading score on our last Olympic team and despite playing limited minutes, led the team in scoring. During the last Olympics, Wade shot an incredible .671 from the field. In other words, if he made one of his next 34 field goal attempts, he would have had the exact same field goal percentage as Kobe Bryant.
Dwight Howard, also recovering from injuries, was a monster in the last Olympics. Howard was the starting center in 2008 and made his field goals at a rate of .745.
Chis Bosh, like Wade, a non-starter in the 2008 Olympics was also extremely productive as he made his field goals at a rate of .774. Additionally, Jason Kidd, who started all eight games in the 2008 Olympics made six of his seven field goal attempts.
So the most productive players on our last Olympic team are not on this team and a better question than whether this team could beat the “Dream Team” would be whether, or not, it could beat the 2008 team.
The Dream Team, while loaded with talent, was also filled with players with incredible desires to win and a very high basketball IQ. They would have figured out how to score and defend against the 2012 team and they would have made the mid-game adjustments far more efficiently and quickly than their opponents. The Dream Team’s leading scorers shot a high percentage from the field – a claim that the 2012 team cannot truthfully make. Despite nearly winning the scoring title, Kobe Bryant only shot .430 during this last NBA season.
Other members of this year’s Olympic team that had low field goal percentages during the regular NBA season are: Deron Williams (.407); Carmelo Anthony (.430) and Andre Iguodala (.454).
Legendary UCLA basketball coach, John Wooden, often stated that the most important basketball statistic was field goal percentage and field goal percentage was a major advantage of the “Dream Team” over this year’s team.
So when somebody like Kobe Bryant claims that this Olympic team, minus the players that played the best in the last Olympics, could beat the “Dream Team”, recognize it for the trash-talking that it is. Before this team should be even mentioned in the same breath as the 1992 team, shouldn’t it try to convince us that it could beat the last Olympic team.