With less star power than the Redeem Team, can the 2010 USA Basketball team reasonably expect to win the gold medal in the FIBA World Championships?
After all, Team USA was not the only squad to lose NBA star power. Germany lost Dirk Nowitzki, Spain lost Pau Gasol, Argentina lost Manu Ginobili, etc. This World Championship team played four opponents the Olympic team faced in 2008—China, Lithuania, Spain and Greece. The differences between these common opponents’ 2008 and 2010 rosters are as follows:
China – Five players on 2010 roster played 50 percent of available minutes against Team USA in 2008 and 60 percent of available minutes against Team USA in 2010
Lithuania – Five players on 2010 roster played 40 percent of available minutes against Team USA in 2008 and 2010
Spain – Eight players on 2010 roster played 71 percent of available minutes against Team USA in 2008 and 83 percent of available minutes against Team USA in 2010
Greece – Six players on 2010 roster played 61 percent of available minutes against Team USA in 2008 and 69 percent of available minutes against Team USA in 2010
Despite roster changes, both versions of Team USA played significant chunks of time against the same players on China, Lithuania, Spain and Greece so the results of those games should provide some insight into how the 2010 USA Basketball can be expected to perform.
The table below lists the efficiency differentials for both teams against these common opponents.
Efficiency differential factors a team's pace into its point differential and provides a more accurate view of performance.
Comparing Team USA By
Efficiency Differential Against Common Opponents
2008 Team USA
2010 Team USA
|All Four Opponents
Surprisingly, the 2010 team actually posted a better efficiency differential against common opponents thanks to terribly weak performances by China and Greece.
The big difference is the defense. The 2010 team only allowed the common opponents to score an average of 70.9 points per 100 possessions while the Redeem Team gave up an average of 96.2 points per 100 possessions.
The sample of common opponents may not be the most reliable measure since there were roster changes but is interesting that the 2010 team was able to perform as well as it did. The Redeem Team's efficiency differential for the 2008 Olympics was +31.1. An efficiency differential that high translates to a winning percentage greater than 1.000 so Team USA should expect to go undefeated if it can maintain that level of production in the World Championships.
Even if the China game is considered an aberration and replaced with the results of the exhibition game against France, the 2010 team's efficiency differential only drops to +18.5 which still translates to a winning percentage greater than 1.000 and the defense still remains 12 points per 100 possessions better than the 2008 Olympic team.
This defensive prowess justifies the decisions to cut defensive-oriented players like Jeff Green and Rajon Rondo for more offensive-oriented players like Danny Granger and Stephen Curry.
The defense for Team USA should be dominant regardless.
So the offense for Kevin Durant and his teammates won't be as dominant as the Redeem Team's but with this tenacious defense their road to redemption should lead to the same golden destination.