Team USA/Dream Teams at the Olympics: Winning Margin Comparison

Original Dream Team

With three games of winning by single digits, the 2016 Dream Team (or just Team USA) managed to put itself out of the discussion for the best NBA basketball team sent to the Olympics and win the gold medal.

Since the first Dream Team (comprised of Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Karl Malone, John Stockton, Charles Barkley, Clyde Drexler, Chris Mullin, David Robinson, Patrick Ewing and one Christian Laettner) made its first venture and change Olympics basketball forever, there have been plenty of discussions and arguments about the best (and worst) Team USA in the NBA involvement era.

How does one answer it? Numbers. We excluded the 2004 team that failed to win the gold medal (the only one since 1992). In fact, it’s the only group that lost a game in the tournament, the first since 1988. We compared the winning margins of the different teams, which brings to a rather clear conclusion, if that kind of number satisfies the need to find one team that’s better than the rest.

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Things worth noticing

  • In their last three games against Spain (two finals, one semi final) the average margin of victory is 8 points
  • The 1992 Dream Team won all their games by 32 points or more
  • Only the ’92 and ’96 teams beat all of their opponents by 20 points or more
  • The ’92, ’96 and ’08 teams won all their games by double digits

So who is the best Team USA? For me, it’ll always be the 1992 group, the original dream team. A walking hall of fame that seemed to be a group of giants among mortal men for most of their games. European and global basketball in general advanced quite impressively since Barcelona, once even catching up with the United States and the NBA representatives sent to carry the flag of basketball excellence. It’s hard to believe we’ll see one team perform so dominantly on the biggest international basketball stage, with no one coming close to breezing with that kind of ease through an entire tournament.

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