NBA, Olympics / Aug 13, 2010 / 10:00 am

Who Wins: 1996 Dream Team vs. 1996 NBA Draft Class

With the World Basketball Festival commencing last night, and the World Basketball Championships just around the corner, I’ve been looking at this year’s USA roster and comparing it to years past. While the original Dream Team takes the cake as the best USA team ever, the 1996 team wasn’t bad either. While looking at the ’96 Olympic team, I thought it would be interesting to match them up to the 1996 NBA Draft Class, widely considered one of the best ever. I put a roster together from that Draft to compete against the Olympic team, and then picked a winner. Here we go:

Note: When figuring out who would win, I used the skill-level of players in their prime, not in 1996.

1996 Dream Team

PG: John Stockton
SG: Reggie Miller
SF: Scottie Pippen
PF: Charles Barkley
C: Hakeem Olajuwon

Bench: Penny Hardaway, Grant Hill, Karl Malone, Shaquille O’Neal, David Robinson, Mitch Richmond, Gary Payton


1996 NBA Draft Class

PG: Steve Nash
SG: Allen Iverson
SF: Kobe Bryant
PF: Jermaine O’Neal
C: Ben Wallace (undrafted)

Bench: Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Ray Allen, Peja Stojakovic, Marcus Camby, Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Antoine Walker, Stephon Marbury, Derek Fisher

While this would be a really close game, I’d have to pick the Olympic team to win. I think the Olympians have too much inside firepower for the ’96 Draft Class to handle. With Shaq, Hakeem, The Admiral, Malone and Barkley manning the post, the Olympic squad could just pound the ball inside relentlessly. While Camby and Wallace are excellent interior defenders, the other big men on the roster like Ilgauskas, J.O., Abdur-Rahim and Walker are not top-tier defenders. Dream Team III has front court guys that are great players on both ends, but the ’96 Draft has a little bit of an offense-defense rotation up front.

Another reason I think the Olympic team prevails is because they have excellent perimeter defenders who could lock down the plethora of scorers on the ’96 Draft squad. Hill, Payton, Stockton and Pippen are all guys who can shut down the opposing team’s best player. Even though the Draft team is more skilled offensively on the perimeter than the Olympic squad, their scoring advantage is negated by the defensive prowess of the Olympians.

This game would be close, but I’m a big believer in defense and post scoring. And in both areas, the Olympians possess an advantage. That is why they prevail.

What do you think?

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  • Chris

    Barkley starting ahead of Malone? Really!!!

  • JAX

    Barkley’s game was more well-rounded (in his prime) than Malone’s.

  • Celts Fan

    @Chris – pretty sure he just went w/ the real starting lineup for that squad.

    @daniel marks – Great read man! I read the rosters and thought the exact same thing.

  • That’s What’s Up

    How about the ’92 Dream Team versus the ’96 Dream Team in a 7 game series

    …or the ’92 Dream Team versus the 2010 New Jersey Nets. Would they enforce the ‘skunk rule’ after the lead hit triple digits?

  • That’s What’s Up

    My favorite Charles Barkley quote was in the Summer of ’92:

    “I don’t know anything about Angola, but Angola is in trouble”

    USA beat Angola by 68 points – 116-48

  • Ian

    i would start robinson and dream together.

    this is a joke btw the 96 team would win easy ben wallace vs the top 3 centers of the 90s gtfoh. just look at the benches. how about that super defense that we get from iverson and nash together. yeah right this is closee the 96 team wins by 30.

  • Promoman

    I question Barkley starting ahead of Malone too. Not to take away from Barkley but he’d mainly score & rebound. He didn’t play defense consistently but Karl has made defensive teams and in 1996 he was pretty much in his prime.

  • QazQami

    dream team would KILL the draft class everyday… i mean.. look at the bench .. THE BENCH !!! SHAQ + Penny + David Robinson + Malone + Grant hill + Payton on THEIR PRIME !

    + a monster starting lineup.. and all that against only Nash, AI & Kobe

    r u serious… there’s not even a game.

  • Ian

    people forget the starting thing with barkley he prob started some games malone prob started others. i think saw games were the admiral and hill started.

  • kingralf

    Who Wins: 1996 Dream Team vs. 1996 NBA Draft Class

    C: Ben Wallace (undrafted)

    Daniel Marks, u´re a real genius

  • Ian

    hell stock and hakeem were the two players that played the least mns

  • Showtime

    Who cares about Barkley or Malone? I would dump the ball into Hakeem all game long. He would abuse Wallace, Camby and everyone else so bad they would starting double and triple teaming Olajuwon in the 1st quarter. Put Reggie & Mitch Richmond in the corners and it’s a blowout

  • yoda

    this can’t even be compared, only one from draft class who is better than olypians is kobe. rest of team, when you compare each player, usa team is way better.

  • Ian

    kobe isnt better than all those olympians hes is on their level but not better. besides the man would have pippen all over him.

  • http://www.cnnsi.com JAY

    What a dumb topic. No brainer. 1996 Dream 2 in a rout.

    DT2 = 8 hall-of-famers
    1996 Draft Class = 4 hall-of famers (that’s IF u count Iverson)

    @That’s What’s Up: “How about the ’92 Dream Team versus the ’96 Dream Team in a 7 game series.”
    Original Dream Team all day… 4-1. The only loss is because a few of the guys were on both teams and would probably want their doppelganger to win at least one game.
    I would pay a month’s salary to see Barkley on Barkley.

  • Ian

    and iverson allen and nash are kinda lite hofers the 96 team has 7 top 25 players only 1 for draft class.

  • chris

    really? i think barkley on barkley would be pretty disgusting

  • Heckler

    back then, (1996) the Dream Team would easily win this game. but lets says this game was played in 1999. the rooks may win it.

  • http://www.getmetomsg.com quick wit it

    @JAY said it best

    I’m giving away one ticket for free to every New York Knicks home game this season. Seriously. http://www.getmetomsg.com

    Today’s the first day I’m launching and I’ve always read DIME and commented occasionally, so I thought I’d let DIME readers be the first to get a jump on writing a letter (which is how you get a ticket).

  • http://www.cnnsi.com JAY

    @ Daniel Marks:
    Original topic, but this?? “While this would be a really close game…”

    Do you honestly think that??
    Look at the point guard spots. Stockton, if he gets in any trouble can be subbed off for a healthy Penny or The Glove.
    Nash on the otherhand has a “prime” D.Fisher and a vaseline-consuming Stephon Marbury backing him.

  • http://www.cnnsi.com JAY

    If ANYBODY thinks the ’96 draft class wins, i’m betting they must be 13 yrs old or younger.

  • H-man

    Dream team hands down. @10, it is the “1996 Draft Class,” meaning those ELIGIBLE for the draft, even if they were not selected. So Ben Wallace counts.

  • d.ro

    ray allen vs reggie miller?! they should just let them have a 3pt shootout to determine the winner……………………………………..Jesus shuttlesworth =)

  • easy yeezy

    Dream Team I vs. The Redeem Team

    Who takes it?

  • Stunnaboy09

    95 Olympics in ablowout. Pippen and Payton handle Kobe nad Iverson easily. Hakeem and Shaq shit on anything the 96 class throws at them. Stockton keeps everyone happy on the team by sacrificing his points for passing, and after they start tripling Hakeem and Shaq Mitch and reggie open 3’s all game long.

    I call a sweep even, don’t see the draft class pulling it off.

  • yoda

    ian, i’mm saying that kobe is better than shooting guards from usa team. at least that is my opinion. every other position, usa team is way better

  • jimbo

    stockton/nash would be EPIC-SAUCE

  • rell

    I don’t see how you believe the game would even be close especially since you say every player will be in their prime. The ’96 Dream Team would destroy the ’96 class. I don’t think the ’96 class could even beat the Dream Team bench. Grant Hill in his prime could equal what Kobe put out and the ’96 class would get destroyed down low. Penny and Payton will destroy Nash and Iverson on offense and can slow down Nash and Iverson on defense.

  • life

    Dream Team 109 Draft Team 100

  • rangerjohn

    not even close, dream team kills the draft class!

    dream team 129 draft class 100.

  • Ian

    im sorry yeah you are right i tought you meant all the players.

  • http://www.cnnsi.com JAY

    @easy yeezy: “Dream Team I vs. The Redeem Team. Who takes it?”
    Any team with MJ, Magic, Bird on it wins.

  • http://getyourishbusted.net Chicagorilla

    Every summer we have these stupid discussions about USA teams. But I can’t believe this one. This is the most disrespectful ish i’ve seen posted on here. the 96 draft class wouldn’t even beat the WAde/Bron/Melo draft class. Hell they’d have a hard time with the 08 and 09 draft class! Iverson and Nash as starters in your backcourt with Kobe on the wing, vs Pippen, Stock, Payton? 3 of the top perimeter defenders ever… yeh you smoking some “ooohhh Weeee” if you think this game would be close.
    They would have to play by the 2010 NBA rules for this game to even be under 30pts.

  • LakeShow84

    Dream Team would MERC them on the post alone.. Also someone else said it.. Nash and AI’s defense on the perimeter wouldnt be pretty..

    @ Ian

    Kobe Bryant would give Scottie Pippen buckets.. thats right i said it lol

  • http://getyourishbusted.net Chicagorilla


    While Kobe is a great player, just know that he wasn’t scoring 35ppg before the rule changes. If he scores 30pts on Scottie (while shooting greater than 45%) I would be amazed. Scottie, with Shaq, Admiral, Hakeem, behind him? Kobe would be lucky to hit the 20pt mark. Iverson would be useless on this team. It would be ugly real quick.

  • the truth

    this wouldnt be a contest

  • Ian

    agree 100percent with you with pippen imo top 3 perimeter defender ever having the admiral and dream behind him kobe would avg around 20ppg and no way he hits 45% that is what he hits now vs everyone. i cant count shaq hehe.

    you are right hehehe he can get 50 but u best believe it would take him 70 shots to get them. the man is great and all but hes going against a team that has 7 players on his or almost on his level.

  • Coney Islander

    If we’re going prime vs prime…the 96 draft class is too much to handle.


  • Krayzie

    96 dream team easily – Penny, G Hill, Pippen, Barkley, and Dream at their prime would be unstoppable. And then you have Stockton, Miller, Richmond, Malone, Robinson and that still leaves Shaq and Payton. From these 12 you can make two teams of 6 that would probably beat the 96 draft class.

    Dont get me wrong, the 96 draft class is probably one of the best draft classes ever, but the 96 dream team is the 2nd best team ever! Not even close!

  • http://getyourishbusted.net Chicagorilla

    My bad,that was directed at Lakeshow, but I’m sure you caught that.

  • snuffkin

    should be like the 96 dream team vs the 2008 redeem team. or maybe 96 draft vs 03 draft. i think those are more of a matchup, but it’s too late to make those articles though. the 96 draft class is epic, but compared to the 92 dream team, especially in their primes, it’s a no brainer. kobe, ai, nash, and ray are there, but when you look at the bench, compared to the dream team, it’s gone.

  • Ekstor

    Pippen stop Kobe? Only two years later, Pip was getting abused by a still-teenage Kobe Bryant when he went to Houston. I remember Pippen next went to Portland under the guise that he would be the Blazer’s answer to Kobe. Barkley’s response was that he couldn’t even stop Kobe when he was in Houston, how is he going to stop Kobe now that he’s even older and Kobe has gotten even better?