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Team USA not quite perfect in London

US gold medalist team celebrates after t

US gold medalist team celebrates after the London 2012 Olympic Games men’s gold medal basketball game between USA and Spain at the North Greenwich Arena in London on August 12, 2012. AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/GettyImages)

AFP/Getty Images

No, I’m not being a hater. I just saw some interesting stats and wanted to share them.

John Templon of Big Apple Buckets is in the vanguard of the tempo-free stats movement in basketball. He did some numerical analysis of LeBron and company in London, and came up with some figures that put the effort in perspective. It’s one thing to have an acknowledged edge in overall skill level, as the number of NBA-caliber players on Team USA most certainly had. It’s another thing entirely to take a collection of All-Star egos from different teams and meld them into a unit capable of devastatingly cohesive offense and defense. That’s what Coach K got his players to buy into, and what they executed to perfection.

Well, near perfection. Team USA led all competitors in points per possession, effective field goal percentage and pace of play (racking up a blazing 85 possessions per 40 minutes). They also excelled at protecting the ball, posting an 11% turnover percentage.

So exactly what on earth made them less than perfect? Only three stats, a couple of which probably won’t give anyone any sleepless nights.

What I found more interesting though is what it didn’t finish first in, which included:

  • Defensive Efficiency – Brazil, which had the fortunate occurrence of not playing the U.S., finished first.

  • Free Throw Rate – Spain finished first here thanks to the Gasol brothers. They’re tall. (Man Pau looked good in the Gold Medal game.) The U.S. was seventh. Getting fouled just wasn’t part of the strategy in London.

  • Free Throw Percentage – Lithuania finished first here with Team USA finishing sixth. Good thing it wasn’t too close at the end.

So, whoever takes over for Coach K in Brazil has his work cut out for him. We cannot have a Free Throw Rate Gap!