Thursday, August 31, 2006

How can ARG and ESP compete with USA?

"How can teams like Argentina and Spain compete with all of the NBA stars on Team USA?"

This is a very basic question that was asked to me by a casual fan recently, and I think it's something that commonly perplexes the average American fan.

Obviously, it's a very complex answer, but I at least want to illustrate part of the answer with some pretty basic numbers.

See below for a breakdown of minutes per game at the 2002 Worlds, 2004 Olympics, and 2006 Worlds (players who have played in all 3 events are in bold):

ARGENTINA

2002
Oberto 27
Sconochini 23
Wolkowisky 23
Ginobili 22
Sanchez 20
Nocioni 20
Scola 18
Montecchia 17
Palladino 16
Fernandez 8

2004
Ginobili 30.0
Scola 25.3
Nocioni 24.1
Oberto 22.7
Wolkowisky 21.8
Montecchia 19.9
Sanchez 18.5
Sconochini 13.8
Hermann 12.8
Fernandez 12.1
Delfino 9.5

2006
Scola 24.4
Oberto 24.1
Sanchez 23.7
Ginobili 21.7
Nocioni 20.4
Wolkowisky 20.0
Delfino 18.7
Hermann 16.7
Prigioni 14.0
Fernandez 10.0


SPAIN

2002
Gasol 30
Garbajosa 29
Navarro 28
Jimenez 23
I Rodriguez 22
Angulo 16
F Reyes 15
Paraiso 15
Marco 13
A Reyes 12
Calderon 6

2004
Gasol 31.9
Calderon 31.4
Garbajosa 26.9
Navarro 23.7
de la Fuentes 19.9
Jimenez 18.3
F Reyes 14.0
Comas 10.7
Fernandez 9.0

2006
Garbajosa 28.6
Gasol 25.9
Jimenez 21.6
Navarro 21.3
Calderon 21.0
Fernandez 19.7
Mumbru 17.1
M Gasol 11.9
B Rodriguez 11.1
Cabezas 10.1
F Reyes 9.5
S. Rodriguez 9.0


USA

2002
Finley 25
Pierce 24
B Wallace 22
A. Miller 22
B. Davis 21
Marion 21
J O'Neal 19
A Davis 18
R Miller 17
Brand 16
LaFrentz 10
J Williams 6

2004
Iverson 27.1
Duncan 26.0
Marbury 26.0
Odom 22.0
Marion 19.6
Jefferson 18.5
Wade 17.5
Boozer 17.1
James 11.4
Stoudemire 7.1
Okafor 7.0
Anthony 6.7

2006
Paul 24.3
James 22.4
Anthony 22.3
Wade 20.5
Hinrich 19.6
Johnson 19.4
Brand 16.7
Battier 14.9
Bosh 14.8
Howard 14.0
Miller 12.5
Jamison 9.0


Argentina has had the same 6 guys in the top 7 in minutes in all three events (if not for injuries to Manu in '02 and Pepe in '04, it might be the same top 6 throughout), with Delfino and Hermann developing through time to naturally inherit the rotation spots of Montecchia and Sconochini.

Spain has had the same 4 guys in the top 6 in minutes in all three events, with Calderon developing through time and Felipe Reyes (who would have more minutes this year if not for injury) a solid rotation guy throughout.

USA has no one who's played in all 3, only 5 who've played in 2 events, only Elton Brand, D-Wade and Marion getting significant minutes in 2 events.

Obviously, this is what J. Colangelo is trying to change with the three-year commitment, but for now, this disparity really shows. ARG and ESP look like exactly what they are: cohesive teams who've played together year in and year out. And it's a big reason why the U.S. is going to have a really tough time winning gold in this tournament.

*P.S. USA '02: Am I the only one who still gets the shakes thinking about Baron Davis throwing entry passes into Ben Wallace with his back to the basket in the low post (wider intl lane, no less!). What terrible point-guard play this team had - that was a much bigger problem than shooting in '02 and '04, IMO.

*P.S. USA '04: that minutes breakdown for the '04 team always provides a good laugh, esp. RJ and C-Booz getting LeBron and Amare's minutes. Great job, Larry. For all of the crap that those players took, the coaches didn't get nearly enough.

Enjoy the semis, people.

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