A lot of hype was made of this year’s Team USA Basketball Olympic team—even some experts, like ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, questioned whether or not the United States should even send our pro basketball players to the Olympics anymore. But, how good was the 2016 USA Basketball team anyway? How does the 2016 Olympic team measure up all-time?
This 2016 Team USA Basketball squad was supposed to be all-time in defense. This team was supposed to be Carmelo Anthony’s time to shine. This team was also supposed to be a memorandum on NBA players (or at least all-stars) playing in the Olympics.
In the end, that was just a bunch of hype. But after the United States slammed China, 119-62, and Venezuela, 113-69, people started to take this team seriously and take notice of just how good they could be. It ended up being Kevin Durant’s time to shine, as he led the team with 19.4 ppg just like he did in 2012.
The USA Olympic team would not win another blowout game until the Gold Medal game against Serbia, which the US took handily, 96-66. The rest of the games were rather close with the U.S. even falling behind in several games.
The US started sending professional basketball players to the Olympics with the Dream Team in 1992, and since then the US is 6-1 overall with a 117-7 record. Despite the 8-0 record, this team did not prove that the US no longer needs to send professional basketball players. In fact, it showed just how much the world has caught up to the United States in basketball since 1992.
So how did this year’s team stack up against the legendary Dream Team (1992) and the Kobe and LeBron’s Redeem Team of 2008?
This year’s (2016) squad makes the list, but just barely, mainly because of the fact that they fell behind in games and their historically low win margin (for US pro basketball players). Their defense was decent, but their offense typically lacked flow and ball movement.
Notable Players: Carmelo Anthony, Stephen Curry, DeMarcus Cousins, Kevin Durant, Paul George, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson, DeAndre Jordan, and Kyrie Irving
Scoring Margin: +22.5
Points per game: 100.9
Opponent’s points per game: 78.4
Assists per Game: 24.0
Turnovers per game: 11.8
2016 Notable Players Stats
Kevin Durant 19.4 ppg 5.0 rpg 57% FG 58% 3PT
Carmelo Anthony 12.1 ppg 5.3 rpg 39% FG 40% 3PT
Kyrie Irving 11.4 ppg 2.5 rpg 47% FG 37% 3PT
Paul George 11.3 ppg 4.5 rpg 45% FG 28% 3PT
Statistically, this was one of the best Olympic teams of all-time. The 2012 Olympics brought together the best players in the post-Jordan era, players like Kobe, LeBron, and Melo. This team was so dominant that throughout the tournament that they trailed in the 4th quarter only once.
Notable Players: Carmelo Anthony, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis, James Harden, LeBron James, Chris Paul, and Russell Westbrook
Scoring Margin: +32 ppg
Points per game: 115.5
Opponent’s points per game: 83.37
Assists per Game: 25.0
Turnovers per game: 13.0
2012 Notable Players Stats
Kevin Durant 19.5 ppg 5.8 rpg 1.6 spg 2.6 apg
LeBron James 13.3 ppg 5.6 rpg 1.4 spg 5.6 apg
Carmelo Anthony 16.3 ppg 4.8 rpg 0.5 spg 1.3 apg
Kobe Bryant 12.1 ppg 1.8 rpg 1.1 spg 1.3 apg
2012 Olympic Team USA Basketball Highlights
The Redeem Team was an amazing collection of once-in-a-generation talent. Watching this team was one of the closest things I’ve seen in years to the original Dream Team. Led by the three-headed monster of Kobe, LeBron, and Melo, the team crushed its opponents. A 35-year-old Jason Kidd played a crucial role on the team as the coordinator of the offense and the stabilizer.
Notable Players: Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Jason Kidd, and Chris Bosh
Scoring Margin: +27.87 ppg
Points per game: 106.2
Opponent’s points per game: 78.4
Assists per Game: 18.7
Turnovers per game: 13.7
2008 Notable Players Stats
Dwayne Wade 16.0 ppg 4.0 rpg 2.3 spg 1.9 apg
LeBron James 15.5 ppg 5.3 rpg 2.4 spg 3.8 apg
Kobe Bryant 15.0 ppg 2.8 rpg 1.1 spg 2.1 apg
Carmelo Anthony 11.5 ppg 4.3 rpg 1.0 spg 0.4 apg
The oft forgotten Dream Team III was a powerhouse, returning five players from the original Dream Team. Another added bonus was the experience this team had going up against the original Dream Team. Grant Hill and Penny Hardaway got to play against the 1992 Dream Team in scrimmages. This team dealt out a series of blowouts by legendary margins, including a 63-point thrashing of China, 133-70.
Notable Players: David Robinson, John Stockton, Scottie Pippen, Gary Payton, Shaquille O’Neal, Hakeem Olajuwon, Reggie Miller, Karl Malone, and Charles Barkley
Scoring Margin: +32.3 ppg
Points per game: 102
Opponent’s points per game: 70.25
Assists per Game: 26.2
Turnovers per game: 12.7
1996 Notable Players Stats
David Robinson 12.8 ppg 4.6 rpg 0.6 spg 0.3 apg
Charles Barkley 12.4 ppg 6.6 rpg 0.9 spg 2.4 apg
Reggie Miller 11.4 ppg 1.0 rpg 1.0 spg 2.1 apg
Penny Hardaway 9.0 ppg 2.8 rpg 1.4 spg 4.4 apg
Sports Illustrated called this team “arguably the most dominant squad ever assembled in any sport.” The complete unselfishness among a team of all-time greats is what made this team unstoppable and fun to watch. Their assists per game record blows other USA Olympic teams away. On the other side of the ball, no other Olympic team has been so efficient with the ball, limiting their turnovers per game to less than 9. Other teams like the 1996 and 2008 teams have come close to showing the utter dominance displayed daily by this legendary squad, but it is doubtful that some of their records will ever be broken. Michael Jordan recalled “We were dominating the game.” No team got within 31 points of the Dream Team. After Kobe claimed his 2012 squad could have beaten the 1992 Dream Team, Bird wisely jabbed “They probably could. I haven’t played in 20 years and we’re all old now.” It is hard not to call the 1992 squad the greatest USA Basketball team of all-time. And, frankly, I’m not even sure the 2008 Redeem Team could beat the 1996 Dream Team III.
Notable Players: Michael Jordan, Earvin Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Scottie Pippen, Karl Malone, John Stockton, Charles Barkley, Clyde Drexler, David Robinson, and Patrick Ewing
Scoring Margin: +43.8 ppg
Points per game: 117.3
Field goal percentage: 57.8%
Charles Barkley field goal percentage: 71.1%
Opponent’s points per game: 73.5
Opponents shooting percentage: 36.5%
Assists per Game: 29.87
Turnovers per game: 8.37
1992 Notable Players Stats
Michael Jordan 14.9 ppg 2.4 rpg 4.6 spg 4.8 apg
Scottie Pippen 9.0 ppg 2.1 rpg 2.9 spg 5.9 apg
Charles Barkley 18.0 ppg 4.1 rpg 2.6 spg 2.4 apg
Karl Malone 13.0 ppg 5.3 rpg 1.5 spg 1.1 apg