This might be one of the more wide-open global tournaments in Olympic basketball history. This time around, Team USA actually has to share the ‘powerhouse’ label as the tournament is filled with NBA players and there are several teams that could possibly send some of your favorites home.
Here is a breakdown:
Group A: USA, France, Iran, and Czech Republic
We already know Team USA is loaded with talent and is the team to beat, but I’ll quickly mention Mexican-American Devin Booker of the Suns, Kevin Durant of the Nets, and former Sixer Jrue Holiday of the recently crowned NBA champions Milwaukee Bucks. France is anchored by Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert from the Jazz, Clippers forward Nicolas Batum, and Celtics wing Evan Fournier. Iran does not have any NBA players, but they do have G Behnam Yakhchali Dehkordi and SF Mohammad Jamshidi to make things interesting. The Czech Republic can also cause problems with Bulls guard Tomáš Satoranský who hit a game winner against Canada in the qualifiers.
Group B: Australia, Nigeria, Germany, and Italy
Team Australia is the most stacked and experienced roster in this group. They boast the likes of Patty Mills from the Spurs, Joe Ingles from the Jazz, and G/F Matisse Thybulle from the 76ers. This is the same team that beat the USA in exhibition play recently and they are for sure the team to beat in this group. Nigeria, who also defeated the U.S. in exhibition play, can disrupt and disappoint with players such as former 76er C Jahlil Okafor. They pose a threat to Australia and even Team USA. The German squad has 2 NBA players featuring former 76ers Draft pick Isaac Bonga and Moritz Wagner from the Orlando Magic. Team Italy is going into the tournament with do-it-all NBA vet Danilo Gallinari who the Sixers would like to forget.
Group C: Spain, Argentina, Slovenia, and Japan
Spain has one of the more complete rosters and lineups in the group. Starting with Ricky Rubio of the T-Wolves and Willy Hernangómez of the Pelicans. Willy was drafted by the 76ers in 2015. Also on the roster are NBA Champions Marc and Pau Gasol and if it wasn’t for the last-minute scratch of Juancho Hernangómez of the T-Wolves due to injury, this would be the first time that you would have two sets of brothers playing on the same team in the Olympics. Argentina will have Luis Scola who is playing in his fifth and maybe his final Olympics. The Slovanian team will be the most exciting to watch with dominant guard Luka Dončić who is already putting teams on watch with his triple-doubles and point guard prowess. Team Japan rounds out the group with NBA forwards Rui Hachimura and Yuta Watanabe.
These Groups are loaded with talent. Don’t be surprised if your favorite team isn’t in the medal round. Just let me be the first to say, I told you so.