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Breaking Down a 3-on-3 Tournament Between 2012 Team USA and 1992 Dream Team

Peter EmerickSenior Writer IIJanuary 3, 2017

Breaking Down a 3-on-3 Tournament Between 2012 Team USA and 1992 Dream Team

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    We've all weighed in with our opinions on which squad would win in a game between the 2012 Team USA squad and the 1992 Dream Team.

    It's time to switch it up a bit. This time the question isn't which 12-man team would beat the other. With FIBA reportedly exploring the option of a three-on-three tournament in the 2016 Olympics, now the question is which team's best trio would come out on top.

    Ahead is a tournament between the 1992 Dream Team's and 2012 Team USA's best three-on-three teams. A full breakdown of the tournament rules, the squads and the specific matchups await you in the next slides.

Tournament Rules

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    Here are the official game rules for the 1992 Dream Team vs. 2012 Team USA 3-on-3 tournament:  

    1. Game is to 25 points. Teams must win by at least two points

    2. All shots are worth one point (like any true street game).

    3. Fouls are called by the defensive team and result in a change of possession.

    4. Shot clock is set at 24 seconds.

    5. All defensive rebounds that aren't air balls must be taken back past the three-point line.

    6. Game is "make-it take-it" rules.

    Now that the official rules have been set, let's move on to the Dream Team vs. 2012 Team USA squad breakdowns. 

3-on-3 Squads

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    1992 Dream Team Squads

    1. Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Charles Barkley 

    2. John Stockton, Larry Bird, Karl Malone 

    3. Clyde Drexler, Scottie Pippen, David Robinson

    4. Chris Mullin, Patrick Ewing, Christian Laettner 

    2012 Team USA Squads

    1. LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Tyson Chandler

    2. Deron Williams, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Love

    3. Chris Paul, James Harden, Kobe Bryant

    4. Andre Iguodala, Russell Westbrook, Anthony Davis 

Tournament Matchups and Bracket

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    East Bracket

    (1) Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley vs. (4) Andre Iguodala, Russell Westbrook, Anthony Davis

    (2) Deron Williams, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Love vs. (3) Clyde Drexler, Scottie Pippen, David Robinson

    West Bracket

    (1) LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Tyson Chandler vs. (4) Chris Mullin, Patrick Ewing, Christian Laettner  

    (2) John Stockton, Larry Bird, Karl Malone vs. (3) Chris Paul, James Harden, Kobe Bryant

East 1st Round: Jordan, Magic, Barkley vs. Iguodala, Westbrook, Davis

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    Here is a matchup that might be closer than you'd think.

    No, it's not that Andre Iguodala, Russell Westbrook and Anthony Davis are on the same level as legends like Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Charles Barkley.

    The reason why this matchup could be closer than you'd initially think is because Iguodala and Westbrook are very physical defenders. While they certainly can't overpower Jordan and Magic, they can still create turnovers and give the 1992 Dream Team's top squad a long night.

    Ultimately, the real difference maker here will be the dominance of Charles Barkley over the inexperienced rookie Anthony Davis.

    Back in the day, Barkley was quite an athletic player. While he's not on the same athletic level as Davis, he'd use his fundamental skills to outplay Davis in the paint.

    As expected, the 1992 Dream Team's best trio makes it out of the first round, thanks in large part to the round mound of rebound.

    Final Score Prediction

    (1) Jordan, Magic, Barkley (25) vs. (4) Iguodala, Westbrook, Davis (15)  

East 1st Round: (2) Williams, Carmelo, Love vs. (3) Drexler, Pippen, Robinson

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    This matchup will be one of the most competitive of the tournament, with both teams posing different skill sets across the board. 

    The team of Deron Williams, Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Love is incredibly explosive on the offensive side of the ball. Unfortunately, defensively speaking, they don't have much ground to stand on.

    Clyde Drexler, Scottie Pippen and David Robinson, on the other hand, are defensively dominant, and at the same time, they are also offensively competent. While that combination might not be enough to help them win this tournament, it's certainly enough to get the win over the the trio they are currently facing.

    Pippen's defense on Carmelo will be key in this matchup. It will frustrate 'Melo early on, which will in turn get him out of his game, leading to him putting up low-percentage shots that hurt his team.

    Robinson will also give Love a lesson in physicality, as he will dominate Love in the paint with his strong 7-foot frame.

    Williams, 'Melo and Love will put up a fight, but their best won't be good enough, as another Dream Team trio moves on. 

    Final Score Prediction

    (3) Drexler, Pippen, Robinson (25) vs. (2) Williams, Carmelo, Love (21) 

West 1st Round: (1) LeBron, Durant, Chandler vs. (4) Mullin, Ewing, Laettner

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    Enter the 2012 Team USA's best trio, with LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Tyson Chandler hitting the floor.

    Chris Mullin, Patrick Ewing and Christian Laettner are certainly competent players, but there's absolutely no way that they are able to beat the likes of LeBron, Durant and Chandler.

    In all honesty, LeBron and Durant might be able to beat that trio without Chandler on the floor. Okay, that's a bit of a stretch, but they are certainly the better team here.

    Mullin is a scrappy defender, and he'll certainly give Durant a challenge, but there's no one on their squad that can stop or hang with LeBron, and that's a major problem.

    With Chandler bodying Ewing up in the paint, LeBron and Durant will have free reign of the perimeter, and ultimately their offensive prowess will be too much for both Laettner and Mullin to handle.

    Team USA's best trio of LeBron, Durant and Chandler move one step closer to the finals of this epic tournament.

    Final Score Prediction

    (1) LeBron, Durant, Chandler (25) vs. (4) Mullin, Ewing, Laettner (9)

West 1st Round: (2) Stockton, Bird, Malone vs. (3) Paul, Harden, Kobe

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    The key difference between these two squads is the existence of a legitimate post presence for the 1992 Dream Team squad.

    While Kobe and his ultra-competitive nature will certainly have the advantage on the offensive side of the ball no matter who's guarding him, the big difference will be Karl Malone's presence in the paint against an undersized 2012 Team USA squad.

    This matchup would certainly be an extremely interesting one to watch. Team USA's squad has the advantage on the perimeter, and specifically at the point with Chris Paul. John Stockton is a different style of player whose talents aren't really made for this kind of tournament.

    The biggest question is whether Team USA's squad will be able to answer Malone down in the post with his back to the basket, and the answer to that question is a resounding "no."

    We haven't even talked about Larry Bird or James Harden yet, and that shows just how good the other players on the squad are. Bird and Harden will be a matchup to watch, but it's one that Bird, with his experience and stingy defense, will certainly win.

    It's not often that Kobe finds himself knocked out of the first round of anything, but it's what happens here.

    Final Score Prediction

    (2) Stockton, Bird, Malone (25) vs. (3) Paul, Harden, Kobe (21)

East Semifinals: (1) Jordan, Magic, Barkley vs. (3) Drexler, Pippen, Robinson

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    The semifinals tip off with a matchup that features players who know each other all too well.

    This three-on-three matchup would certainly be one for the ages. Magic Johnson facing off against Clyde Drexler; Charles Barkley battling with David Robinson; and last but not least, two All-time great teammates Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen battling it out.

    While I like Robinson over Barkley in this matchup, the focus of the game won't be on what happens in the paint. The focus will be the play that starts on the perimeter from players like Jordan and Magic.

    Pippen will give Jordan all he can handle, but unfortunately for Pippen's squad, Jordan can handle more than most players.

    Magic certainly has an advantage over Drexler, especially when it comes to versatility on the offensive side of the ball. Magic's post game will give Drexler trouble, and it will be at the foundation of why the 1992 Dream Team's top squad reaches the finals of this tournament.

    Final Score Prediction

    (1) Jordan, Magic, Barkley (25) vs. (3) Drexler, Pippen, Robinson (19) 

West Semifinals: (1) LeBron, Durant, Chandler vs. (2) Stockton, Bird, Malone

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    After scoring what could be viewed as an upset in the first round, the 1992 Dream Team's second-best squad is going to have its hands full when it faces off against LeBron and company.

    While Karl Malone was able to impose his will against Kevin Love in the first round, he won't have the same success against a much more physical Tyson Chandler.

    With Chandler equalizing Malone's advantage in the paint, 2012 Team USA's top squad will have no problem dominating on the perimeter—specifically because John Stockton is going to be a serious liability on the defensive side of the ball.

    Stockton will have to defend either Kevin Durant or LeBron James, and to be frank, that's not going to work out well for Stockton. Both players will absolutely dominate him because of their physicality and size.

    It will certainly be exciting to watch Larry Bird put his best foot forward in this matchup, but he won't be able to carry his team alone. He'll give Durant and LeBron a tough battle defensively, but without much help he won't be able to get his team past Team USA's best trio.

    It shouldn't come as a shock that the 1992 Dream Team and 2012 Team USA best squads are facing off against each other in this tournament's finals. It's the matchup the world wants to see.

    Final Score Prediction

    (1) LeBron, Durant, Chandler (25) vs. (2) Stockton, Bird, Malone (14) 

3-on-3 Finals: (1) Jordan, Magic, Barkley vs. (1) LeBron, Durant, Chandler

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    Here it is. LeBron vs. Magic, Durant vs. Jordan and Barkley vs. Chandler.

    While the 1992 Dream Team has the advantage in the paint with Barkley's polished offensive moves, he will have a difficult time truly overpowering Chandler—who will be on the court purely as a defensive presence.

    The focus of this matchup won't be in the paint; it will certainly be on the perimeter with LeBron and Durant vs. Magic and Jordan. Both duos will certainly swap responsibilities back and forth on the defensive side of the ball, but for the most part, LeBron will be tasked with slowing down Magic, and that will be key to a 2012 Team USA victory here.

    The versatility that Jordan has on offense will certainly be an advantage for him over Durant, and even LeBron, but with LeBron constantly bringing help-side defense, the focus will be on allowing Magic to beat them from the perimeter, which is something he's not ridiculously strong at doing.

    In the end, the difference maker is going to be LeBron's athleticism, physicality and intensity on both sides of the ball. Getting into the paint will be key not only to getting high-percentage baskets for himself, but also for opening up the floor for Durant, and that's what will be at the foundation of LeBron's success in this matchup.

    In what will be a close matchup, the 2012 Dream Team trio will ride LeBron's historic 2012 campaign to yet another championship; this time, coming against one of the most dominant trios in NBA history. 

    Final Score Prediction

    (1) LeBron, Durant, Chandler (25) vs. (1) Jordan, Magic, Barkley (23) 

3-on-3 Tournament Champion: (1) LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Tyson Chandler

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    The good news is that it's gold for Team USA once again!

    The bad news is that Team USA just added seven losses to its sparkling record since the 1992 Dream Team took gold.

    LeBron James and Kevin Durant are poised to be the faces of the NBA for the next decade, and as they continue to solidify themselves as the premier players of their generation, their dominance will be something that is incapable of repeating.

    This time it's the 2012 Dream Team taking down the 1992 Dream Team, and that's something that is more of a reality than some would like to think.

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