Sorry, the 2016 USA Men’s Olympic Basketball Team isn’t invincible

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 04: The United States men's basketball team featuring Carmelo Anthony, Draymond Green, Paul George, Demarcus Cousins, Demar Derozan, Klay Thompson, and Harrison Barnes speaks with the media during press conference at the Main Press Centre at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

I’ve been scratching my head at some of the headlines about how great the 2016 USA Men’s Olympic Basketball Team is. Going by some of the article titles I have seen, you would think this is the 1992 Dream Team and that international basketball hasn’t improved in the last 3 decades.

Let’s be clear, this USA team is not unbeatable. They’re not nearly-invincible. They’re not destined for the Gold. What they are, are the favorites, but it’s not going to be nearly as easy as most articles will have you believe.

Yes, Kevin Durant is showing why he’s a top five player in the world. DeAndre Jordan resembles the third coming of Shaquille O’Neal Wilt Chamberlain on offense and second coming of Bill Russell on defense.

DeMarcus Cousins looks like a man among boys underneath. Paul George and DeMar DeRozan are causing chaos defensively and are a difficult a matchup on the other end. And Carmelo Anthony continues to display his efficient international play that escapes him during the NBA season.

But let me remind you that this isn’t a team stacked with LeBron James, James Harden, Steph Curry, Anthony Davis, Kawhi Leonard, Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, John Wall and a younger Dwyane Wade.

Without these players, past Olympic Teams have had a stronger representation of NBA superstars than the current team. And even with a more relatively more talented composition, those teams (save for the 2014 World Championship team) U.S. Teams were challenged at least a couple times in each tournament since 2006.

During Olympic play, the 2012 team only defeated Brazil by 11 points and Argentina by six.

In the 2010 World Championships, they squeaked out a two point win (70-68) over Brazil and defeated Russia by just 10 in a hard-fought quarterfinal matchup.

Going back to the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the “Redeem Team” beat Spain by 11 points in a wire-to-wire game.

Immense Strength but with Weaknesses

The 2016 team is great, but they have some work to do. Draymond Green looks completely lost on the court. Harrison Barnes and Jimmy Butler haven’t been effective. Klay Thompson has been unusually streaky. Not to mention a slippery FIBA ball, the potential for inconsistent referees and baffling international rules.

Still anyone that has been paying attention to this team; from casual fans, diehards, sports books, online bookies ( and our moms, know that the Team USA remain the heavy favorites. If the team can continue to mesh and improve, the Gold is definitely theirs to lose.

However, that’s not the argument here. Let’s not assume the USA is easily going to dominate and have the red carpet laid out for them. We’re assuming that Spain, France, Australia, Lithuania and Brazil will simply wilt or concede after having success in the past?

History tells us that Team USA is going to win many of their games by 25+ points and even 40+ points, but history also tells us that Team USA will be tested once or twice. That’s not once or twice in 82 games that requires a team to beat the other four times in the postseason, it’s once or twice in eight games in a single-elimination format.

That certainly doesn’t sound like an invincible team to me.

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