Olympic Basketball Preview: Field loaded with NBA talent
Team USA enters with a chance to pick up a fourth straight gold medal, but exhibitions showed the path could prove thorny.
Emily McCarthy, for NBA.com
Olympic basketball is finally back.
After a year-long delay due to COVID-19, the men’s tournament at the 2020 Tokyo Games gets underway on Saturday, July 24. The action tips off at 9 ET with a Group A matchup between Iran and Czech Republic.
This summer’s 12-team field is divided into three four-team groups (A, B and C), instead of the two-group structure featured in past Olympics. In previous years, the gold medal-winning team played a total of eight games, but this summer the gold medal-winning squad will only play a total of six.
The group stage will be played in a round-robin format, with each team playing the other three teams in its group once. The top two teams from each group and the top two third-place teams overall advance to the single-elimination Final Phase.
The Final Phase includes the quarterfinals, semifinals and gold- and bronze-medal games. Teams from the same group cannot face each other in the quarterfinals.
Below is a breakdown of the NBA players in each group.
Group A: Czech Republic, France, Iran, United States
Even after a pair of exhibition losses and a pair of roster changes, Team USA will be the team to beat in Group A. The squad is comprised of Bam Adebayo, Devin Booker, Kevin Durant, Jerami Grant, Draymond Green, Jrue Holiday, Zach LaVine, Damian Lillard, Khris Middleton and Jayson Tatum. JaVale McGee replaces Kevin Love, who is still recovering from a right calf injury, and Keldon Johnson replaces Bradley Beal, who left the team due to health and safety protocols.
France’s roster is headlined by 2020-21 Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert of the Jazz, Clippers forward Nicolas Batum, Celtics wing Evan Fournier and Nets forward Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot. Former NBA players Guerschon Yabusele and Vincent Poirier are also on the French team.
Iran’s roster features no NBA players, and Czech Republic’s includes one: Tomas Satoransky. The Bulls forward has already come up clutch for his country this summer, nailing a game-winner against Canada in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
— NBA (@NBA) July 3, 2021
Group B: Australia, Germany, Italy, Nigeria
Australia’s experienced roster includes Raptors center Aron Baynes, Cavaliers guard Dante Exum, Jazz guard Joe Ingles, Spurs guard Patty Mills and 76ers guard Matisse Thybulle, as well as former NBA guard Matthew Dellavedova. Center Jock Landale also has NBA Summer League experience and played Division I college basketball at Saint Mary’s.
Australia secured a win over Team USA during exhibition play in Las Vegas and will be a tough team to beat in Group B.
Nigeria also earned a statement-making victory over Team USA to open exhibition action. Nigeria’s roster features Heat forward Precious Achiuwa, Kings forward Chimezie Metu, Bucks forward Jordan Nwora, Pistons center Jahlil Okafor, Timberwolves guard Josh Okogie, Heat forward KZ Okpala, Jazz wing Miye Oni and Heat guard Gabe Vincent.
Precious Achiuwa with the big block for Nigeria!
— NBA (@NBA) July 11, 2021
Wizards guard Isaac Bonga and Magic forward Moritz Wagner will suit up for Germany, while Italy’s roster includes Warriors guard Nico Mannion and Hawks forward Danilo Gallinari. Former NBA forward Nicolo Melli will also play for Italy.
Group C: Argentina, Japan, Slovenia, Spain
Spain’s roster features the most NBA players of the Group C teams, with Timberwolves guard Ricky Rubio, Lakers center Marc Gasol, Pelicans center Willy Hernangomez and Timberwolves forward Juancho Hernangomez. Former NBA star Pau Gasol is also on the roster.
Argentina’s NBA talent includes Nuggets guard Facundo Campazzo, Thunder forward Gabriel Deck and Luca Vildoza, a guard who signed with the Knicks in May. Former NBA player Luis Scola is also on the team and will play in his fifth Olympics.
Slovenia will be led by Mavericks star Luka Doncic, whose dominant performance in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament included a triple-double in the final against Lithuania. Nuggets forward Vlatko Cancar is also on the Slovenian roster.
Japan rounds out Group C, with Wizards forward Rui Hachimura and Raptors forward Yuta Watanabe suiting up for the host country.
More information about the 2020 Olympics can be found here.