Saturday, July 14, 2012

How Good Was the Dream Team?

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Kobe Bryant made headlines this week when he said that his 2012 Olympic team would be able to beat the 1992 version, aka the original Dream Team. That's quite a statement. And some people were actually AGREEING! Is it possible that people have forgotten just how good that team was? Christian Laettner aside - that team was ridiculous. ELEVEN Hall of Famers. Let's review:

Michael Jordan
Scottie Pippen
John Stockton
Karl Malone
Magic Johnson
Larry Bird
Patrick Ewing
Chris Mullin
David Robinson
Charles Barkley
Clyde Drexler

Now Bryant made the comment that the Dream Team was past their prime and his younger, more athletic version would be able to take advantage of their more seasoned counterparts. Were the members of the Dream Team really past their prime though? AFTER the Olympics:

Jordan won 4 more scoring titles, and 4 more NBA championships.
Pippen made 7 all-defensive first teams and 3 all-NBA first teams.
Stockton led the NBA in assists for the next 4 seasons.
Malone made 3 all-defensive first teams, 7 all-NBA first teams, and won 2 MVPs.
Ewing made 5 more All Star Teams and averaged at least 22 points and 10 rebounds the next 5 years.
Robinson won an MVP, made 2 all-defensive first teams, and made 7 All Star Teams.
Barkley won an MVP and made 5 All Star Teams.
Drexler won a title and made 4 more All Star Teams.
Mullin averaged 26 points the next season.

So the only players on the team who were truly 'past their prime' were Bird and Magic. Let that one sink in. On the other side of the fence, you have Anthony Davis who has never played a game against an NBA player, Tyson Chandler (0 all star appearances), Andre Iguodala (1 all star appearance in 9 seasons), James Harden (0 all star appearances), and other than Kobe, Tyson Chandler and LeBron, the team has combined to win 0 titles. Kevin Love hasn't even played a postseason game yet.

And how would this year's team match up on the court against the Dream Team?

Let's start at the center position. You've got Ewing and Robinson, two of the best low post players in NBA history. And the only true center on this year's roster is Tyson Chandler. After that you have Kevin Love and Anthony Davis as your only real size. Advantage: Dream Team, big time.

Power forwards. Karl Malone, Charles Barkley and Laettner. If Love's your backup center, do you slide LeBron up to the 4 along with Davis? Durant? I don't know if Durant could guard Malone. Or even Sir Charles. Even if we say it's LeBron, I don't think that tips the scales. Malone and Barkley were both extremely physical presences and wouldn't be phased by LeBron's athleticism like a lot of players. Advantage: Push.

Small fowards. Pippen, Bird and Mullin vs Durant, Iguodala and Carmelo. Durant and Anthony are unbelievable scorers, but the Dream Team counters with Larry Legend and one of the best defensive players of all time in Pippen. At worst, this is a push for the Dream Team. People tend to forget just how good Pippen really was since he played his prime in Jordan's shadow. Advantage: Dream Team.

Shooting Guards: Jordan and Drexler vs Kobe and James Harden. I'm sorry, there's no way I'm taking 33 year old Bryant over 29 year old MJ. MJ was the best player on four more title teams. Kobe's no slouch, but he's not doing what young MJ was any more. And if you disagree with that, there's no way Harden is better than Clyde the Glide. Advantage: Dream Team.

Point Guards: Stockton and Magic vs Westbrook, Paul and Deron Williams. The '12 team has more depth, but Stockton, the NBA's all-time assists leader, wasn't exactly a slouch, and Magic is such a mismatch. Even an old Magic was still 6'9". The '12 team counters with athleticism, but how do you get into the lane when the other team has David Robinson AND Patrick Ewing? Advantage: Push.

So I don't really see any area that the '12 team has an advantage, except maybe in transition. But how many transition opportunities do you think they'd get against a team of this caliber?

And one more thing worth mentioning, the '12 team isn't even the best team these guys could've put together. Derrick Rose isn't there, Dwight Howard isn't there. Same with Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and now Blake Griffin. How do you expect to beat the 'best team ever assembled' with less than your best?

Sorry Kobe, there will only be one Dream Team.

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