With the Gold Medal of Argentina in the 2004 Olympics, the dominance of the United States since the apparition of the NBA players in 1992 has come to an end. I wanted to know how big the difference between Europe and the United States is in reality in the Olympic competition.
So I checked the average results of the United States in the Olympic competitions since 1992. When it comes to the Group stage, the results of the United States are positive so far: 20-2. The average difference between the US and its opponents have however dramatically decreased. In 1992, the original Dream Team won its group games by an average difference of 45.8 points. In 1996, the difference was reduced to 35.4 and in 2000 it was back to 28.4. With the Olympic Games of 2004, the Team USA saw its first losses in the group phase and so the average difference was only 5.8 points.
When you check the results of the group phase of Team USA only against the teams from Europe, the average difference comes back from 39 in 1992, over 26.5 in 1996, 16.3 in 2000 to 1 point difference in 2004.
The results of the Medal round are also showing the current trend between both continents. In 1992, Team USA won its games in the Medal round by a average difference of 41 points. In 1996, this difference was only 25.7 points while in 2000, the other nations were there until the last minutes and lost only by an average of 9 points. In 2004, USA lost in the semi-finals against Argentina but the average difference was still positive with +1.
Now how will this end up this year? So far, Team USA only played against China and Angola and won by 26 points of difference in average. This is difference they had against ALL teams in 2000. The losses in 2004 as well as during the 2002 and 2006 World Championships show that Europe has closed the gap. But even smaller Basketball nations like Angola and China are coming closer and stay in the race now for one half of the game. So with the upcoming games against Germany, Greece and especially Spain, we could see this average difference drop considerably. And the Gold Medal round is far from being won when the defending champions Argentina or the sharpshooting Croatians are waiting.