Posts Tagged ‘US Olympic Basketball’

Kobe Bryant is dreaming if he thinks the 2012 team is better than the Dream Team

July 12, 2012

Kobe, Kobe, Kobe…

Yesterday Kobe Bean Bryant told the media that the current United States Olympic Team would probably beat the legendary 1992 Dream Team if the two teams squared off.  Bryant reasoned that most of the current US Olympic team players are at or are close to their prime ages whereas in 1992 the better Dream Team members were a bit long in the tooth.

I was skeptical, so I tested Bryant’s thesis.  Using MWS, I compared the production of the Dream Team during the NBA season that preceded its Olympic campaign (1991-92) and compared those numbers to the numbers produced by the 2012 Olympic team during the last NBA season.  Based on my calculations, I think Bryant is very wrong.

DREAM TEAM FEATURED MORE PRODUCTIVE PLAYERS

By the summer of 1992, Magic and Bird had gotten up in years, but other key players on the Dream Team, like Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, David Robinson, Scottie Pippen, and Karl Malone, were still relatively young.  And almost all of them were uberproductive basketball players in 1991-1992.  9 of the 12 Dreamers produced negative losses (compared to 6 on the 2012 team) and none of the Dreamers produced the mediocre numbers produced by Carmelo Anthony, Russell Westbrook, and Deron Williams (I don’t count Laettner, because he had not played in the NBA yet, and he was more or less a politically driven choice).  Taken together, the Dream Team featured much more production than this year’s Olympic team.

I make the above statements based on two separate Win Charts I produced, one featuring the NBA production of the 2012 Olympic team in the current season, and one featuring the Dream Team’s production in the 1991-92 NBA season.  As the Charts will show, even if one includes the political selection of Christian Laettner, the Dream Team still produced a far superior overall NBA winning percentage of 1.115% in 1991-92 compared to the 2012 team’s overall winning percentage last season of 0.923%. (When reading the Charts, remember that last season was not a full season.  Thus, the cumulative numbers, like (a) wins and losses (W__L); (b) wins above 0.500% (W>0.5%)'; and Value Rating (VL) cannot be directly compared between the 2012 team and the Dream Team.  To compare those numbers, divide them by 0.8).

(Both Charts, plus explanations of the information contained in each, can be accessed by banging on the links listed below.)

Click Here to see the two Olympic Win Charts

Click Here for a brief explanation of each of the statistics contained in the Charts

Click Here to read the logic behind the basketball metric Marginal Win Score

ANALYSIS: Dream Team was loaded

In his rebuttal to Bryant, Charles Barkley said the Dream Team would crush the 2012 team, and he surmised that the only 2012 players good enough to make the Dream Team roster are LeBron, Durant, and Kobe.  I think he’s right in part, and wrong in part.

If I were to select an Olympic team from the combined rosters, and if I were to do so according to win potential, then I would probably select every Dream Team player except Laettner, Mullin, Ewing, and Bird (due to injury).  I would replace the aforementioned 4 players with the 2012 players LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, and probably Tyson Chandler (or Kevin Love).  I certainly wouldn’t include Kobe Bryant on any combined team.  He has not been an elite player for several seasons.

SIDEBAR:  Why do smart people like Charles Barkley continually give Kobe Bryant so much respect???  He was never on Michael Jordan’s level, and he is certainly no longer an elite player.  Yes, he can make difficult shots at a better rate than most humans, and he’s a good free throw shooter, but he really doesn’t do a whole lot of the other things that you need to do to win basketball games (I will admit he is an outstanding defensive player, but he is inefficient and he doesn’t rebound or pass and he takes poor shots).  The real danger is Kobe’s best quality — his ability to convert circus shots.  That ability can be a mixed blessing, as Charles Barkley pointed out during the playoffs. It encourages players to take terrible shots, and even the best shooters will have conversion rates on difficult shots that are much lower than the conversion rates you can get on easier shots.

UNDER-APPRECIATED GREATNESS

The Dream Team was loaded with great players.  Everyone recognizes Michael Jordan’s greatness, but fans and the media tend to underappreciate (or have forgotten) the true greatness of Magic Johnson.  I believe Magic was the best non-center in basketball history.

And Charles Barkley is massively underrated, simply because he did not win a championship.  Barkley, a man who stands about 6’3.5”, produced some of the greatest win statistics of any player in NBA history.  Yet he never seems to enter the conversation when people talk about the truly elite players in NBA history.

Another Dream Teamer who doesn’t get his due is David Robinson.  People seem to believe he was not good enough to win on his own, and that he simply rode the coattails of Tim Duncan to two NBA championships.  No way.  Robinson was an outstanding NBA player and a great win producer.

But I’m getting away from the point of this post.  The point is, Kobe Bryant is wrong to claim that the 2012 Olympic team has better personnel than the Dream Team.  It doesn’t.  The Dream Team still stands as the greatest collection of basketball talent in the history of man.

My Win Analysis of the 2012 US Olympic Basketball Team

July 9, 2012

I have posted the 2011-12 NBA Marginal Win Score Win Numbers for the 2012 US Olympic Basketball team on my LiveJournal site (click here).  For now, I am going to post all statistical numbers there, because they post the precise way I want them to (in a readable, organized form).

TEAM ANALYSIS

I must say that the selections made over the weekend were rather inspired.  Every single player selected (Andre Iguodala, Blake Griffin, and James Harden) posted an “elite” level Marginal Win Score (meaning their personal winning percentages were each greater than a thousand percent) whereas none of the players they were competing against (Rudy Gay, Eric Gordon, and Anthony Davis) posted numbers anywhere close (though in fairness to Davis, he does project as an Elite level win producer.)

At the same time, the 2 NBAers who were cut would qualify as pure “scorers” whereas the 3 that were kept probably would not.  Does this mean the NBA establishment is becoming “switched on” (as Brits would say) to the Win Score revolution?  Only time will tell.

NOT AS POWERFUL AS 2008

With all that being said, the 2012 team does not project to be nearly as strong as the 2008 team.  In particular, the team will be missing a big post presence in Dwight Howard, and if Chris Paul is injured, the 2012 team will be very thin at Point Guard (backup Deron Williams is the only player on the roster who posted a negative Marginal Win Score last NBA season, and the other backup Russell Westbrook is notorious for overshooting).  Moreover, I have no dreaming idea how Carmelo Anthony made the team.  He has NEVER been an elite player… he is strictly a volume scorer.

Even so, any team featuring LeBron James, Chris Paul, Kevin Durant, Kevin Love, Tyson Chandler and Blake Griffin should be very formidable indeed.  But remember, most every team can be beaten in a one-off.  And as great as that 2008 team was, they were almost knocked off by a clearly inferior Spanish team.  So I am guaranteeing nothing, but the US team should be a heavy favorite to bring home gold from the British Isles this summer.


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