Insultingly labeled the "B" team by fans and national writers alike, the 2010 version of Team USA won Gold at the World Championships, succeeding where two previous teams of NBA stars had failed. Detractors might still point out that other countries did not send their best (no Ginobili for Argentina, no Pau Gasol for Spain), but previous versions of NBA stars have lost to lesser teams than this one played (who could forget Puerto Rico in the 2004 Olympics, for example?). So how good was this Team USA compared to past versions with NBA stars? My thoughts after the jump.
There have actually been twelve versions of Team USA with NBA players, starting with the original Dream Team in 1992: five Olympic teams (1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008), four World Championship teams (1994, 2002, 2006, 2010; 1998 was during the strike and non-NBA players were sent), and three FIBA Americas teams that enabled the U.S. to qualify for the Olympics (1999, 2003, 2007). For each team, I've listed their record, point differential, and roster with positions (1-5, an "s" stands for starter). Keep in mind that the FIBA Americas [FA] teams played only against weaker competition (teams from North/South America). For teams prior to 2010, I've given my opinion on how the 2010 team would have done against them in a one-and-done game under FIBA rules and in a seven-game NBA series. And for a Sixers slant, I've listed where this year's Andre Iguodala would have fit on the team, if at all.
2010 World Championships [WC] (9-0, +24.9)
- Roster: Billups (2s), Chandler (5), SCurry (2), Durant (4s), Gay (3), EGordon (2), Granger (3), Iguodala (3s), KLove (5/4), Odom (5s), DRose (1s), RWestbrook (1/2)
2008 Olympics (8-0, +27.9)
- Roster: CAnthony (4s), Boozer (4), Bosh (4/5), KBryant (2s), DwHoward (5s), LJames (3s), Kidd (1s), CPaul (1), Prince (3), Redd(2), DerWilliams (1), Wade (2)
- Vs. 2010 WC in FIBA game: 2008 wins by 6-8 points
- Vs. 2010 WC in NBA series: 2008 wins by 4-0 sweep
- Iguodala on this team: would fight for 12th man with Prince
- Comment: LeBron would probably guard Durant and make Durant work on defense too. Dwight Howard would abuse Odom on the boards. Deron Williams, Paul, and Wade would wreak havoc with their penetrations. 2010 WC would keep a FIBA game close by playing zone and slowing the game down. Spain kept the Gold medal game very close that way.
2007 FIBA Americas (10-0, +39.5):
- Roster: CAnthony (4s), Billups (1), KBryant (2s), Chandler (5), DwHoward (5s), LJames (3s), Kidd (1s), MMiller (2), Prince (3), Redd (2), AStoudemire (4/5), DerWilliams (1)
- Vs. 2010 WC in FIBA game: 2007 wins by 4-6 points
- Vs. 2010 WC in NBA series: 2007 wins by 4-2
- Iguodala on this team: could beat out MMiller or Prince for 11th/12th man
- Comment: mostly the same as 2008, Amare instead of Bosh and no Chris Paul.
2006 World Championships (8-1, +20.4):
- Roster: CAnthony (4s), Battier (2s), Bosh (5/4), Brand (5/4), Hinrich (1), DwHoward (5s), LJames (3s), AJamison (4/3), JoeJohnson (2), BrMiller (5), CPaul (1s), Wade (2)
- Vs. 2010 WC in FIBA game: 2010 wins by 4-6
- Vs. 2010 WC in NBA series: 2006 wins by 4-1
- Iguodala on this team: a better option than Battier to fill Battier's role as defense-oriented starter
- Comment: under NBA rules, this team still defeats 2010 WC, no contest. But 2010 WC would play a pure zone under FIBA rules and force 2006 WC to shoot from outside. Remember, 2006 WC lost to a team of no-names from Greece in the semifinals.
2004 Olympics (5-3, +4.6):
- Roster: CAnthony (3), Boozer (4), Duncan (5s), Iverson (2s), LJames (2/3), RJefferson (3), Marbury (1s), Marion (3/4), Odom (4s), Okafor (5), AStoudemire (4/5), Wade (2)
- Vs. 2010 WC in FIBA game: 2010 wins by 10-12
- Vs. 2010 WC in NBA series: 2010 wins by 4-3
- Iguodala on this team: starter instead of Jefferson
- Comment: this team had terrible chemistry and no outside shooting (31% from 3). They not only lost three times, they barely won several other games. NBA rules would make things easier for Duncan, who was still in his prime, but the Iverson-Marbury starting backcourt and the mediocre Richard Jefferson as starting SF would still be weaknesses.
2003 FIBA Americas (10-0, +30.9):
- Roster: RAllen (2), MBibby (1), Brand (4), VCarter (2/3), Collison (5), Duncan (5s), Iverson (2s), RJefferson (3), Kidd (1s), KenyMartin (4), McGrady (3s), JO'Neal (4s)
- Vs. 2010 WC in FIBA game: 2003 wins by 5-7
- Vs. 2010 WC in NBA series: 2003 wins by 4-2
- Iguodala on this team: bench player (7th-8th man) instead of Jefferson
- Comment: with Ray Allen, Jason Kidd, Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady, and Jermaine O'Neal in their primes in addition to Duncan, this team was widely regarded as better than the team that went to the 2004 Olympics. Jermaine and Kenyon Martin would make things tough for Durant, and Duncan and Iverson would expose Odom and Rose. A bad matchup all-around for 2010 WC.
2002 World Championships (6-3, +17.0):
- Roster: Brand (4s), AntDavis (4), BarDavis (1), Finley (2s), LaFrentz (4/5), Marion (3/4), AndrMiller (1s), RMiller (2), JO'Neal (5s), PPierce (3s), BWallace (5/4), JayWilliams (2/1)
- Vs. 2010 WC in FIBA game: 2010 wins by 12-15
- Vs. 2010 WC in NBA series: 2010 wins by 4-1
- Iguodala on this team: starter ahead of Finley
- Comment: probably the worst team the NBA has ever sent to an international competition. Antonio Davis? Raef LaFrentz?? If 2010 was the "B" team, this was the "D" team, although they didn't lose any of their games by more than 7, unlike the 2004 Olympic team.
2000 Olympics (8-0, +21.6):
- Roster: Abdur-Rahim (3/4), RAllen (2), VBaker (4/5), VCarter (3s), Garnett (4s), THardaway (1), AHouston (2), Kidd (1s), McDyess (4), Mourning (5s), Payton (2s), StSmith (2)
- Vs. 2010 WC in FIBA game: 2000 wins by 2-4
- Vs. 2010 WC in NBA series: 2000 wins by 4-3
- Iguodala on this team: bench player (9th-10th man) instead of Abdur-Rahim
- Comment: a prime Garnett would give Durant lots of trouble, but remember that this team barely defeated Lithuania by 2 in the semifinals
1999 FIBA Americas (10-0, +31.6):
- Roster: VBaker (4/5), Brand (4/5), Duncan (5s), Garnett (5s), Gugliotta (4/5), THardaway (1), AHouston (3s), Kidd (1s), Payton (2s), StSmith (2), Szczerbiak (3)
- Vs. 2010 WC in FIBA game: 2010 wins by 5-7
- Vs. 2010 WC in NBA series: 2010 wins by 4-2
- Iguodala on this team: would replace Szczerbiak and possibly dislodge Houston as starting SF
- Comment: this team had a solid core led by prime Garnett, Kidd, and Payton and a young Duncan, but its depth was seriously lacking.
1996 Olympics (8-0, +31.8):
- Roster: Barkley (4s), AHardaway (1/2), GHill (3), KMalone (4), RMiller (2s), Olajuwon (5), SO'Neal (5s), Payton (1s), Pippen (3s), Richmond (2), DRobinson (5), Stockton (1)
- Vs. 2010 WC in FIBA game: 1996 wins by 10-12
- Vs. 2010 WC in NBA series: 1996 wins by 4-0
- Iguodala on this team: wouldn't make it
- Comment: with a starting lineup of future Hall-of-Famers and no weaknesses anywhere, this team would create serious matchup problems everywhere for 2010 WC and dominate the boards. And Pippen would no doubt guard Durant.
1994 World Championships (8-0, +37.8):
- Roster: DColeman (4), Dumars (2), KJohnson (1s), LJohnson (3/4), Kemp (4s), Majerle (3/2s), RMiller (2s), Mourning (5), SO'Neal (5s), MPrice (1), StSmith (2), DWilkins (3)
- Vs. 2010 WC in FIBA game: 1994 wins by 8-10
- Vs. 2010 WC in NBA series: 1994 wins by 4-1
- Iguodala on this team: would compete with Majerle and LJ for SF minutes
- Comment: this team shot 46% from 3 behind a prime Reggie Miller (30 3's in 8 games, 53% from 3), opening things up for Shaq inside (18 PPG on 71% shooting). It didn't have anyone who could defend Durant, which would keep things close.
1992 Olympics (8-0, +43.8):
- Roster: Barkley (4s), Bird (3/4), Drexler (2/3), Ewing (5s), MagicJohnson (1s), Jordan (2s), Laettner (4/5), KMalone (4s), Mullin (3/2), Pippen (3), DRobinson (5s), Stockton (1)
- Vs. 2010 in FIBA game: 1992 wins by 15-20
- Vs. 2010 in NBA series: 1992 wins by 4-0
- Iguodala on this team: wouldn't make it
- Comment: Derrick Rose and Westbrook might cause some trouble for the Dream Team with penetration, but the Dream Team, with maybe 10 of the top 25 players ever, would cause matchup problems at every position, especially Jordan and Barkley (too strong in the post for either Iguodala or Durant).
Overall, 2010 goes 4-7 in FIBA games, but 3-1 vs. previous World Championship teams (winning barely over 2006 WC). 2010 WC had some holes defensively (at PG and C) but was perfectly constructed for the tournament they played in and was one of the better defensive teams ever assembled by the U.S. I have Iguodala making 10 of the 12 teams and starting on 4 of them (in addition to 2010).
This post has even more speculation than usual, so it would be interesting to hear your thoughts ...