Previewing 2014 FIBA World Cup
How does Team USA stack up against the rest of the globe?
Good luck using statistics to project the outcome of the inaugural FIBA Basketball World Cup, which tips off Saturday in Spain. FIBA's official rankings aren't much help.
They include the past two cycles of major international competitions, dating back to the 2006 World Cup. So Argentina ranks third and Greece fifth, even though many of the players who played key roles in 2006 or even the 2008 Olympics are long retired. Even recent results, like France winning the EuroBasket qualifying tournament last summer, aren't always predictive because of how rosters can vary from one competition to the next. San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker, the MVP of that tournament, isn't playing for France this year.
Of these flawed options, my personal favorite is using exhibition results from warm-up games, something I previously did before the 2012 Olympics. While teams approach these friendlies with varying degrees of seriousness, they at least include current rosters and can give some idea of current form. It's important, however, to adjust for schedule, since playing the U.S. in New York is a very different challenge from hosting Finland.
So I've treated the results of all games between two regular national teams like games in a season, making a six-point adjustment for home court -- larger than in the NBA given the greater distances international teams travel.
Here's how all 24 teams in Spain rate by this measure:
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