Time for the metrics system

USA Basketball picks players the way the Vatican picks popes. But is this any way to build a Dream Team?

Updated: July 25, 2012, 6:47 PM ET
By Elena Bergeron | ESPN The Magazine
Allen IversonAP Photo/Matt SlocumAllen Iverson helped lead one of the most dysfunctional Olympic teams of all time in 2004.

REMEMBER WHEN SENDING a squad of basketball unbeatables to the Olympics was something of a foregone conclusion? Just pluck the would-be "dream team" out of a hat and let it go all AND1 on the world. Yeah, that was fun.

Then remember how, in 2004, the Allen Iverson and Stephon Marbury-led Olympic unit was so spectacularly dysfunctional that it was something of a national shame -- compiling more losses, on the way to a bronze medal, than every other team since the '92 Dream Team combined? And how the '08 squad barely snuck by Spain to win gold? Slightly less fun.

And remember how, in response to those teams and to stiffening international competition, Team USA got smart this year? How USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo vowed to use the metrics now commonplace in NBA front offices to help assemble coach Mike Krzyzewski's roster? How Colangelo declared: "The Mavs didn't win it all until they put stat guru Roland Beech on their bench to help with rotations. The Heat used some simulator to determine substitution patterns. So it would be senseless for us to not utilize every tool at our disposal to bring a gold medal home"?

Except, of course, Colangelo never said any of that. In fact, when asked about Team USA selection, the 72-year-old Colangelo -- the former owner of the Suns who has been steering the USA Basketball ship while easing into retirement told The Mag: "Primarily, it's Coach K and myself. We'll take some input from some of the others who are in the inner circle, but at the end of the day, it's Coach K and myself that make the final call." As for advanced metrics? "I couldn't even be specific about that. As you can see, I don't put a great deal of faith into it."


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