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Dream Team vs. 2012 Team USA

Ryan CuriSenior Analyst IIJanuary 11, 2017

Dream Team vs. 2012 Team USA

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    While I believe that it's near impossible to compare players and teams from different eras of the game, I felt this comparison needed to be addressed before the Olympics kick off later this week.

    The 1992 United States men's Olympic basketball team won all 14 games they played that summer, with no contest being closer than a 32-point victory. Eleven of the 12 players on that roster, coached by Chuck Daly, turned out to be NBA Hall of Famers.

    The 2012 United States men's Olympic basketball team has won all four games on their schedule so far, although they only defeated Brazil by 11 points and Argentina by six. International competition has improved since 1992 though, making the comparison between the Dream Team and the 2012 Team USA a close one.

Christian Laettner vs. Anthony Davis

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    Laettner, the third overall pick in the 1992 draft, had one of the most storied careers of any college basketball player. In fact, he holds NCAA Tournament records for most points scored, most free throws attempted and made and most games played.

    Although Laettner was not as big of a bust in the NBA as some believe, with career averages of 13.3 points, 6.9 rebounds and 2.7 assists, I believe Davis will surpass those numbers almost immediately. Davis also has the ability to change the game on the defensive end of the court, which helped him win the National Player of the Year award during the 2011-12 NCAA basketball season.

    While Laettner did play in every game during the Olympics, where he averaged 4.8 points, he also had the luxury of his team winning every game by 30-plus points which almost guaranteed him at least some playing time. Davis may not put up those same statistics during this year's Olympics as Laettner did, but then again Davis is only 19 and Laettner was 22 at the time.

    Edge: Anthony Davis

    Score: Dream Team: 0

    Team USA: 1

Chris Mullin vs. James Harden

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    Despite only starting in more games than Laettner and John Stockton at the 1992 Olympics, Mullin was the Dream Team's fourth-leading scorer at 12.9 points per game. He was incredibly efficient shooting behind the arc, going 14-for-26 in the eight Olympic games. Mullin's role on the team was shooter, just like Harden.

    Harden, who turns 23 next month, benefited from injuries to Derrick Rose and Dwyane Wade, that led him to make his first Olympic appearance. The smooth lefty from Arizona State has improved every season since he was drafted but is still a step away from becoming a superstar, which may be impossible for him in his current situation of playing behind Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant.

    Harden will likely not be able to match the numbers that Mullin put up in 1992, mainly because he won't be given the chance to play enough to put up those stats. Harden is also not as good of a pure shooter as Mullin was, even though that is his role on this team.

    Edge: Chris Mullin

    Score: Dream Team: 1

    Team USA: 1

David Robinson vs. Kevin Love

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    Robinson, otherwise known as "The Admiral," started in half of the 1992 squad's eight games, splitting time at center with Patrick Ewing. Robinson averaged 9.0 points and 4.1 rebounds, while shooting over 57 percent from the floor. Robinson and Ewing both stood over seven feet tall, giving the 1992 team more options on the interior for scoring than this year's squad.

    Love's advantage over Robinson is that he can score both on the inside, as well as outside and even behind the arc. Love is a great passer for a big man, who is almost guaranteed to grab a double-double in every NBA game he plays.

    Despite this, Robinson has both a height and strength advantage over Love, as well as just being more experienced at the respective points in their careers. Although I went against the lefty in the previous slide by picking against Harden, I have to choose the lefty here in Robinson.

    Edge: David Robinson

    Score: Dream Team: 2

    Team USA: 1

Scottie Pippen vs. Andre Iguodala

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    Despite being on a team with two Hall of Fame point guards, Pippen was the Dream Team's leading assist man, averaging 5.9 per contest. He also averaged 9.0 points and 2.1 assists but was primarily used as the team's defensive stopper, along with Bulls' teammate Michael Jordan.

    Iguodala and Pippen are the same height, as well as having the same role for their respective teams. Iguodala may be a better athlete than Pippen, but Pippen was a better basketball player and had a more refined and well-rounded offensive game than Iguodala has. Iguodala does have a strength advantage over Pippen and is a great defender, but still not at Pippen's level.

    Both players are important for their teams because of the defensive stopper role that they possess. Iguodala may draw tougher matchups than Pippen did, as well as play in more competitive games, but in the end Pippen is still the clear winner here.

    Edge: Scottie Pippen

    Score: Dream Team: 3

    Team USA: 1

Clyde Drexler vs. Russell Westbrook

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    Clyde "The Glide" Drexler was one of five players on the Dream Team to average in double figures, scoring 10.5 points on average during the tournament. Drexler's game was well-rounded, as he also averaged three rebounds and 3.6 assists at the 1992 Games.

    Westbrook is a different breed of a player than Drexler. They are first different because Westbrook primarily plays point guard in the NBA, while Drexler played shooting guard. While Drexler was a better pure scorer, Westbrook is able to make plays on both offense and defense because of his athleticism alone.

    Westbrook won't likely average double figures in the 2012 Olympics, although it is possible. He will, however, be able to shine in his new role as shooting guard and show off some of that athleticism in the open court. While this was a tough one to decide, I give the slight edge to Westbrook.

    Edge: Russell Westbrook

    Score: Dream Team: 3

    Team USA: 2

Karl Malone vs. Carmelo Anthony

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    Although very different players, the Malone-Anthony matchup would be an intriguing one because there are also some similarities. Malone started four of the eight games in the 1992 tournament. Anthony has started two of the four exhibitions thus far. Malone was the team's third-leading scorer, currently the same place that Anthony stands. Although unrelated to the Olympics, neither player has won an NBA Championship either.

    The two still have many differences as well though. Malone was a back-to-the-basket low-post scorer, who made a living off the pick-and-roll. Anthony is more of a face-up scorer who prefers having the ball in his hands and making plays through isolations. While neither is a great defender, Malone gets the edge in that department.

    Although Malone never won an NBA Title, his teams had more success than Anthony's have had so far. Malone has a slight size, height and weight advantage over Anthony and was also a better rebounder, getting the "Mailman" the nod here.

    Edge: Karl Malone

    Score: Dream Team: 4

    Team USA: 2

John Stockton vs. Deron Williams

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    Stockton only saw the court in four of the eight games during the 1992 Olympics, averaging 2.8 points and two assists during his limited action. Stockton and Laettner were the only two players on the roster not to start a single game, while Stockton and Magic Johnson were the only two to sit out at least one game during the tournament.

    Williams' role on the 2012 Team USA should be slightly more important to that of Stockton's. Williams and Chris Paul should split time at point guard, although Paul appears to have a slight edge in becoming the team's starter at that slot.

    While Stockton and Williams both played point guard for Utah, their styles are somewhat different. First, it should be noted that both players are incredible passers. Williams has a big size advantage over the undersized Stockton, giving him the ever so slight advantage if these two were to go head-to-head.

    Edge: Deron Williams

    Score: Dream Team: 4

    Team USA: 3

Patrick Ewing vs. Tyson Chandler

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    New York Knicks centers will battle it out at the starting center position. Ewing averaged 9.5 points and 5.3 rebounds in Barcelona, while shooting over 62 percent from the floor. Ewing was also regarded as one of the best shot blockers throughout his career.

    While Chandler's defensive ability is at the same level, or maybe even better than Ewing's, his offense does not come close. Chandler is starting to figure it out better and better on offense each season, but he still lacks a natural scoring ability like Ewing had.

    Ewing was not only able to score in the low post, but could also knock down mid-range jumpers. Chandler, on the other hand, scores mostly off dunks or offensive rebounds. Chandler's athleticism could give Ewing trouble, but in the end Ewing is just a flat out better basketball player.

    Edge: Patrick Ewing

    Score: Dream Team: 5

    Team USA: 3

Charles Barkley vs. LeBron James

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    The Barkley-James matchup, along with the Jordan-Bryant matchup that will be described in a couple of slides, are without a doubt the two best comparisons among players. Barkley led the Dream Team in scoring, averaging 18.0 points on remarkable 71 percent shooting. He even stepped out and knocked down seven of eight shots behind the arc, while also gathering 4.1 rebounds per game.

    James is not only the best, but also the most complete player in the NBA. He can score, rebound, pass and defend, as well as play or guard any position on the court. He is built like a football player but can run the court as fast as anyone. I'm not the biggest LeBron fan in the world, although I am not a hater like most are, but anyone who watches the NBA should agree with everything stated above regardless of your bias.

    Although Barkley was a power forward and James is more of a small forward, James is actually two inches taller than Barkley. It's tough to pick against the leading scorer on possibly the greatest Olympic basketball team this world will ever see, but LeBron is no ordinary player, which is why he wins here.

    Edge: LeBron James

    Score: Dream Team: 5

    Team USA: 4

Larry Bird vs. Kevin Durant

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    Bird averaged a modest 8.4 points and 3.8 rebounds during the Barcelona Games, while shooting 52 percent from the field. However, he was only 9-for-27 from behind the arc, which is somewhat puzzling. Bird was playing through an injury during this time, so it's tough to read into his statistics too much.

    Durant is the NBA's best scorer, which makes him Team USA's best offensive player. Although Durant could use some improvement in other areas of his games, such as defense and rebounding, he is on his way to becoming an NBA great. His silky smooth stroke, long arms and athleticism make him nearly impossible to guard.

    No disrespect to Bird here, but I do not think there is any way he could cover Durant in a one-on-one matchup. Although Durant's season ended in disappointment as the Thunder fell short of an NBA Title, it won't be long before Durant hoists the trophy.

    Edge: Kevin Durant

    Score: Dream Team: 5

    Team USA: 5

Michael Jordan vs. Kobe Bryant

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    Here's the matchup that you've all been waiting for. Arguably the two best shooting guards to ever play the game, Jordan's six NBA Championship rings collide with Bryant's five rings. Jordan finished second on the 1992 squad in scoring with 14.9 points and third in assists with an average of 4.8. Jordan, along with Pippen, were also the two best defenders on the team.

    Bryant is the old man on the 2012 version of Team USA, at 33 years old. Bryant can still score with as much ease as anyone in the league, as it is a key ingredient to the level of success that this year's team hopes to reach.

    Although these two players are nearly clones in some aspects of the game, such as height and scoring ability, Jordan is the winner. Overall, he is a better defender and passer than Bryant. Also, Jordan was his team's best player on all six championship teams, while Bryant had Shaquille O'Neal on his side for his first three titles.

    Edge: Michael Jordan

    Score: Dream Team: 6

    Team USA: 5

Magic Johnson vs. Chris Paul

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    Last, but certainly not least, is the battle of the point guards. Johnson sat out during two of the eight tournament games in 1992 but averaged eight points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists when he was suited up. Johnson is one of the biggest players to ever play point guard, standing 6-foot-9.

    Paul, on the other hand, measures to just about six feet tall. Paul is a pass-first point guard but does have the ability to slither into the lane to score as well as knock down open jump shots. Paul is a sneaky defender and currently leads Team USA in steals.

    While Paul has a definite speed advantage over Johnson, the nine inches that Paul gives up defensively is too much to overcome. While Johnson is a tough matchup for any point guard, he would be especially tough for Paul considering he is undersized, even for a point guard.

    Edge: Magic Johnson

    Final Score: Dream Team: 7

    Team USA: 5

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