• Chelsea Harmon

USA Goes for 15th Gold Medal

The USA men’s basketball team is running on all cylinders in Rio, coasting to a 51-point win over Venezuela Monday. The talent in America is so deep that the U.S. is dominating their opponents without a starting lineup of all-stars; Stephen Curry, LeBron James and James Harden all opted not to compete in the XXXI Olympiad; even without that star power stuffing stat sheets team USA is cruising on its quest to win a 15th gold medal.

Now of course this isn’t The Dream Team that annihilated opponents in Barcelona back in 1992 with the likes of Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, but it’s clear that regular NBA play has given the American athletes a sizeable edge. Why? It’s simple. Every player from the U.S. is a formidable pro player in the league, the same can’t be said for every player on the opponent’s roster. With that experience and training regimen comes an additional layer of technical prowess, stamina and familiarity, three assets the Americans are utilizing to pulverize opponents. In the Fancy Stats chart demonstrating the margin of victory in the first two games for team USA on TheWashingtonPost.com the 2016 U.S. men’s basketball team has just tied the Dream Team, beating their opposition by an astounding 101 points in the first two games of play.

The level of competition in the 2016 Summer Games is nowhere near the same level of difficulty seen in the NBA Championships each year. The level of play in the Summer Olympics has only dissipated since then; according to the Simple Rating System provided on TheWashingtonPost.com that modifies the margin of difficulty for strength in schedule; The Dream Team was an astonishing 43.5 points better their opposition. According to Post writer Neil Greenberg, the 2015-2016 Golden State Warriors had an SRS of +10.4. The two other countries that medaled in men’s basketball in ’92, Croatia and Lithuania, marked +11.3 and +3.7, which was considered legitimate competition back then, but that toughness hasn’t continued over the last three Olympic games and the Americans have rolled over second-rate teams with ease.

What are the chances team USA wins a 15th gold medal in Rio? It would take a major collapse for anyone to knock team USA off the top spot in the medal hunt, essentially the Americans would need to beat themselves to leave Brazil without a gold medal. Led by New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony, team USA is proving how dominate the Americans are in the sport of basketball; they can route you in humiliating fashion without a legion of MVPs and all-stars.

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