Olympics: Four men’s basketball challengers to Team USA dream team
Robbie Purves | July 28, 2016
With 11 of 12 nations travelling to the Olympics possessing at least one NBA star, the association are finally realising their dream of making the US game a global one.
The USA are odds-on at 1/12 with Coral to claim their 15th title in 19 Olympics and have brought yet another star studded squad to Brazil.
Names such as Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony and DeMarcus Cousins make this Team USA instalment one of the best ever. However, with such rich international depth in the world’s greatest basketball league, can anyone challenge America’s dominance…
La Roja are ranked second in the world and boast some of EuroLeague’s finest sides, such as well known footballing names Real Madrid and Barcelona, the former possessing the most Euro titles of any other club.
Spain have won three of the last four EuroBasket titles and possess a veteran superstar in the form of Pau Gasol. The two-time NBA champion was named the MVP of 2015 EuroBasket after some amazing performances, averaging an amazing 25.6 points and 8.8 rebounds per game, ending the tournament champions. In Beijing and London, La Roja finished second, but will severely miss the other Gasol brother.
Marc Gasol has fast overtaken his brother in terms of talent as he reaches his prime, but will miss the Olympics due to a broken foot. This is the third time the Spaniard has missed out playing for his country due to injury, and as a result Spain are second-favourites to triumph at the Olympics at 11/1.
France are surprisingly ranked fifth in the world, despite possessing a deeply talented roster. This will be basketball legend Tony Parker’s last international tournament and will be keen to lead his nation to the top prize. The four-time NBA champion tasted success with his nation in the 2013 EuroBasket, but won’t have to be solely relied upon to drag Les Bleus through.
Nicolas Batum – an intelligent moving Charlotte Hornets small forward – is coming off his greatest scoring season in America. At shooting guard the quality remains elite, with rising star Evan Fournier a talented shooter, ready to pounce on Parker’s clever production. Rudy Gobert, standing at 7ft 1in, is a menacing presence on the court and, like Fournier and Batum, is coming off the back of his best NBA scoring season.
Combine Parker and Boris Diaw’s experience with the exceptional form Batum, Fournier and Gobert bring to the Olympics, and you have a genuine dark horse with a quality NBA starting five. France are 12/1 to win the competition..
The Argentine basketball side are ranked fourth in the world, and have future Hall of Famer shooting guard Manu Ginobili leading the nation. Ginobili’s finest moment on international duty came in the 2004 Olympics, when Argentina became the first nation other than Team USA to win the competition in 16 years. A highlight of the competition came when he hit a game-winning buzzer beater with 0.7 seconds remaining.
Luis Scola will be another name basketball fans recognise. The Toronto Raptors centre was part of a Canadian side that went deep into the Playoffs last term, breaking franchise records. Both Ginobili and Scola have tasted Olympics success and will provide experience and a levelheadedness the young Argentina side will need. The nation is 33/1 to emerge victorious in Brazil.
A player to watch out for is Dallas Mavericks new signing Nicolas Brussino. The shooting guard looks an exciting talent averaging 14.6 points and 5.5 rebounds for Penarol last term.
The Aussies, ranked 11th in the world, possess a roster peppered with NBA quality but, with some notable absentees, may struggle to compete for the top prize.
NBA champions Andrew Bogut, Matthew Dellavedova and Patty Mills headline Australia’s selection, but will be without Dante Exum and 2016 top draft pick and future superstar Ben Simmons. Where the nation may struggle, is at the forward positions. Countries such as Spain and France could have a field day against the limited ability of Aron Baynes and Joe Ingles. Australia are a huge 250/1 to claim top spot and could be an outside punt.