Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics – Men’s Basketball Preview

The summer of basketball? While the 2021 NBA Finals end, the very next weekend will bring on a new basketball tournament. The delayed 2020 Tokyo games will open on July 23, 2021, and this summer will feature 12 teams in the basketball tournament. Need a guide for the basketball tournament? Here we are! The Tokyo 2020 – Men’s Basketball Preview.

Group A

Czech Republic

Following up its 2019 FIBA World Cup sixth-place finish the Czech Republic qualifies for the Olympics for the first time (well first time under the Czech Republic instead of former Czechoslovakia).

Current NBA talent: Chicago Bulls guard, Tomáš Satoranský

Projection: This team has limited talent from the NBA. The reality is in a group with a more superior France and the United States, it is hard to see them advancing to the bracket stage. However, the expectation for them to succeed in the qualifying was low as well and they ended up beating Canada as an underdog.

Iran

Iran is a country that is making repetitive appearances in major basketball tournaments. They are qualifiers of the FIBA World Cup tournament three times in a row now. They are also the lone Asian team in the tournament. This is a bit strange to say as China usually is a favorable team coming out of Asia. Iran has not qualified for the Olympics since 2008.

Current NBA talent: None at this time

Projection: Without any globally known talent, it is hard to see Iran coming out of this group. Their 2019 FIBA World Cup finish was at 23rd. A sneaky team in the group? Not even. Hard to say where Iran will fall in line but definitely not into the bracket stage.

France

The Frenchmen are a top team in the tournament. They’ve qualified for their third straight Olympics and finished third in the 2019 FIBA World Cup. This team shouldn’t be underestimated especially with the NBA’s three-time Defensive Player of the Year, Rudy Gobert. They can build a starting five of NBA players and not many teams in the 12-team tournament can say that.

Current NBA talent: LA Clippers forward Nicolas Batum, Boston Celtics guard Evan Fournier, New York Knicks guard Frank Ntilikina and Brooklyn Nets guard Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot.

Projection: France has talent and they surely can give any contender a run for their money at the Gold Medal. The best part is that the United States appears to be a bit vulnerable in some early-preliminary games. Even with the world’s best basketball players, the USA team lost to Nigeria and Australia. It could be a moot point by the time the tournament tips off, however. France has the USA first on the list and could be beneficial to get an early win and hope the beast isn’t awakened by the bracket time if they have to face the USA to stave off elimination. For now, the third-best team in the world sounds good

United States

Pretty much the roster is sort of set? With Devin Booker, Jrue Holiday, and Khris Middleton are still playing in the NBA Finals as Team USA takes on exhibition games this team is still star-studded. Kevin Love, Bradley Beal, and quite possibly Zach LaVine are out of the tournament due to various injuries or health and safety protocol.

Current NBA talent: The ENTIRE roster

Projection: World champs? They are the number one ranked team in the world and rightfully so. However, a few losses in exhibition games to Nigeria and Australia had everyone in the hysteria that the USA lost its touch. We shouldn’t be surprised if this team faces a little adversity in the Tokyo games. Other countries are on the rise with their own NBA talent. Globally the game of basketball isn’t just tied down to the USA having the best talent either.

Group B

Australia

Early smoking of Team USA in an exhibition game means not to take the Aussies lightly in the 2020 Olympic games. Ben Simmons decides not to play for his native team however, no worries they’ve got Patty Mills.

Current NBA talent: Patty Mills (San Antonio Spurs) and Ingles (Utah Jazz) Aron Baynes (Toronto Raptors), Matthew Dellavedova, Dante Exum (Houston Rockets), Josh Green (Dallas Mavericks), and Matisse Thybulle (Philadelphia 76ers)

Projection: Should we fear this team being dangerous enough to win the Gold medal? Probably so. They are the third-ranked team according to FIBA rankings for the Men’s side. Now let’s talk about Group B because there is a little more competition with Germany and Nigeria despite them being ranked outside of the top 10 in the FIBA rankings. They should be favored as the Group B winner.

Germany

Every since Dirk Nowitzki retired the Germans has had a tough road rebuilding their basketball team to competing among the top teams. They haven’t been to the Olympics since 2008 and the best NBA talent they have to offer is Moritz Wagner (and Isaac Bonga) so a much inferior team likewise the Czech Republic.

Current NBA Talent: Mortiz Wagner (Orlando Magic) and Isaac Bonga (Washington Wizards)

Projection: They will be busy trying to chase Nigeria and Australia in this group. Don’t expect the Germans to make it past the group stage

Italy

This team enters its first Olympics since the 2004 Summer games and they actually won the Silver medal! This time around Italy qualifies for the tournament with three players currently on NBA rosters.

Current NBA Talent: Nico Mannion (Golden State Warriors), Danilo Gallinari (Atlanta Hawks), and Nicolò Melli (Dallas Mavericks)

Projection: Again, another team flirting with the idea that getting past the group stage is something possible. Can they steal one against Nigeria or Germany to shake things up in the group? That would be the only overachieving direction for this inferior team.

Nigeria

The excitement about this team is that it features seven players technically on an NBA roster. They also have beaten Team USA’s current roster in the first game of exhibition play in Las Vegas earlier this month. While they are currently ranked 22nd on FIBA terms, they clearly have a roster that can compete with the elite of the United States NBA stars.

Current NBA talent: Precious Achiuwa (Heat), Chimezie Metu (Kings), Jordan Nwora (Bucks), Jahlil Okafor (Pistons), Josh Okogie (Timberwolves), KZ Okpala (Heat), Miye Oni (Jazz), Gabe Vincent (Heat).

Projection: This team probably shouldn’t be taken lightly as in the group they have to compete with another team beat Team the USA. With that said, Nigeria should have no problem finishing in 2nd place in this group at the worse. They also should qualify for the bracket round. From there depending on matchups I wouldn’t favor this team over Spain, Australia, Argentina, or the United States. However, consider Mike Brown as the head coach and a little NBA flavor with the international rules can keep this team competing.

Group C

Argentina

The last star player in the NBA that also played for Argentina was Manu Ginobili. In 2004 Argentina captured Gold but after that was the wrath of the redemption of Team USA who has captured the Gold medal in everyone tournament since then. The history of Argentina basketball also includes a 2008 bronze medal.

Current NBA talent: Denver Nuggets guard Facundo Campazzo, Oklahoma City Thunder forward Gabriel Deck and guard Luca Vildoza New York Knicks

Projection: Argentina isn’t just ranked fourth overall for any reason. They can be considered a contender for the Gold medal game easily. A familiar name is Luis Scola who at age 40 is still playing for this roster. If anything, Scola can teach the young bucks a thing or two, and perhaps which is why they are still a strong team in the world.

Japan

As the host country gets their free entry to the contest Japan features some NBA familiar names and also brings an opportunity that Japan has not seen since 1976. That’s right the last time they qualified for this event.

Current NBA talent: Toronto Raptors forward Yuta Watanabe and Washington Wizards forward Rui Hachimura

Projection: With Spain and Argentina in this group it is hard to imagine Japan securing a top-two spot here. Things don’t get better against Slovenia who features Luka Doncic.

Slovenia

Here is a team that has NEVER seen the basketball tournament in Olympics history. The unique 2020 games in 2021 right? Led by none other than Luka Doncic, he leads his country to their first-ever Olympic Games after knocking off Lithuania.

Current NBA talent: Luka Doncic (Dallas Mavericks)

Projection: Spain and Argentina make a fair case that this group is theirs respectfully 1A and 1B. However, adding Doncic to the mix here and a Slovenia team with the international experience already can set up for a nice winning combination. Doncic comes back to playing in the international waters where he spent as a young pre-NBA All-Star. I say expect Slovenia in the bracket tournament.

Spain

Where do we begin? The team that was always trailing Team USA and always on their heels at the finish line in Gold medal games. Spain finished with the bronze in 2016, and silver medals both in 2012 and 2008. The team will feature Pau Gasol who is currently playing for Barcelona and out of the NBA.

Current NBA talent: Marc Gasol (Los Angeles Lakers), Willy Hernangomez (New Orleans Pelicans) and Juancho Hernangomez (Minnesota Timberwolves), and Ricky Rubio (Minnesota Timberwolves)

Projection: Favorites to win the Gold medal? Absolutely! I give the nod to Spain winning Group C and perhaps along the way potentially seeing an upset by Slovenia or Australia if I had to put money on it.


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