The 2012 U.S.A. Olympic basketball team will be scary good. They have yet to play a game, let alone practice, but I am willing to call their squad the greatest basketball team ever assembled. Yes, even better than the Original Dream Team. The current Olympic team will feature Derrick Rose, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Dwight Howard (Not to mention Dwayne Wade, Blake Griffin, and Chris Paul who will come off the bench). Basketball is essentially a game of matchups and with this team’s ridiculous talent and athleticism; it is hard to fathom anybody being able to stop them. Let’s compare this roster to the 1992 USA National Basketball team. That squad, which destroyed its opponents by an average of 43 points per game, featured a lineup of Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Karl Malone, Patrick Ewing, Charles Barkley, David Robinson, among others…
Let’s start with the point guards, Derrick Rose and Magic Johnson. While Johnson who is 6’9, has an obvious height advantage over Rose, however he is no match for Rose’s quickness and athleticism. It would be impossible for Magic to stay in front of Rose without help. While defending Rose would be a tall task, Magic wouldn’t have trouble scoring/initiating offense through the post because of his size. Point guard in my opinion is the lone position in which the 1992 squad has an advantage.
Next up are the shooting guards Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan. This matchup is the most interesting by far. While Jordan will be Jordan, asking him to guard a player of Kobe’s caliber will be extremely difficult. Bryant offensive repertoire is impeccable. He can post, shoot effectively from mid and long range. Both players are very similar in that they are capable of piling up the points as well as play tenacious defense. In the end I think this matchup will end in a stalemate, because no player has a significant advantage over the other.
Set to matchup at the small forward position is LeBron James and Larry Bird/Charles Barkley. Here’s where things start to get ugly for the Original Dream Team. LeBron, listed at 6’9 260, is a matchup nightmare for anyone including the 92’ National Team. Despite being a SF, James weighs more than anyone on the 92’ teams roster. With his supreme athleticism, strength, and ability to run the floor like a guard makes for a severe mismatch for Larry Bird and Charles Barkley. Coupled with his ability to score, James is also capable of playing suffocating defense. Guarding Larry Bird or Charles Barkley shouldn’t be much of a problem due to Bird’s lack of athleticism and Barkley’s lack of height.
Now to the power forwards, Kevin Durant and Karl Malone. At 6’10 with handles/shooting range like a guard, Kevin Durant is virtually unguardable. Durant would simply make Malone look silly. Despite having a Hall of Fame career, Malone never had to guard a unique player like Durant. For a player who primarily plays in the post, the thought of him stepping out to the perimeter to guard Durant is laughable. Advantage 2012 Olympic team.
At the center position, Dwight Howard and Patrick Ewing would faceoff. Howard’s quickness and strength would cause big problems for Ewing the post, and likely would cause Ewing to get into foul trouble. Howard’s shot blocking ability would make it difficult for Ewing to score despite an efficient post game.
Dwayne Wade, Blake Griffin, and Chris Paul are likely the 2012 team’s first players off the bench. The 1992 team’s bench includes Scottie Pippen, Clyde Drexler, David Robinson, and Christian Laettner. Pippen’s defense and versatility makes this battle of the benches interesting. However, I still give the edge to the current Olympic team. Wade’s ability to create his own shot/clutch scoring, coupled with Blake Griffin’s freakish athleticism gives them a slight edge.
If both these teams were to face each other in their primes, I believe the 2012 Olympic team would win easily. The combination of talent, athleticism, and versatility makes this team unstoppable. It’s hard for me to imagine anybody even giving this team some decent competition. There is no doubt in my mind after this year’s Olympics that this squad will be the greatest team ever assembled…