The 2020 Tokyo Olympics are finally here! After the long-awaited wait, we finally get to see the best of the best square off and fight for the right to say they are the best.
While the reigning champions are still the team to beat, Team USA is not a team other countries fear playing anymore.
With more and more elite NBA players passing up on the Olympics for their own reasons, we have gotten a watered-down product of what we are accustomed to seeing.
That is why Kevin Durant’s return to the Olympics is so vital, as he is arguably the best player in the NBA at this time.
The stage is set. Slovenia, headed by the next LeBron, in Luka Doncic.
Ricky Rubio and the Gasol Brothers orchestrating things for Spain.
Patty Mills is still showing he’s an international star for Australia.
The budding star Evan Fournier shows his true worth for a well-balanced France.
Lastly, the dysfunctional bundle of talent we have with Team USA, headed by KD, Dame, and held together with a plethora of NBA stars like Draymond Green and Jrue Holiday.
The Basketball Olympics will always be a race to beat Team USA and out of the previous three Olympics, this might be the best chance the world has at winning Gold.
Tokyo Olympics Runner-Ups (Non-Medel Teams)
Spain (5th/Runner Up)
Since his Olympic debut in 2008, Ricky Rubio always shows out for his country.
Looked upon as the great international star of his own time, Rubio has lived up to that name in the Olympics.
Spain 88, Japan 77 in the first game for both teams at the Tokyo Olympics, as the host nation watches — from home.https://t.co/WH2zi3gYF3
— Tim Reynolds (@ByTimReynolds) July 26, 2021
Ricky Rubio’s game as a savvy, slick facilitator is on full display every game he takes the court this tourney.
Rubio loves his role with Spain, as he gets to showcase his scoring abilities too, averaging 23 points per game.
— Baloncesto España (@BaloncestoESP) July 29, 2021
In Spain’s win against Argentina 81-71, 5 players scored 8+ points (Rubio, Llull, Claver, Fernandez, Hernangomez, and P. Gasol) however, only two of those players reached double-digit points (Rubio and Llull).
It is wild that the Gasol Brothers are playing and providing pivotal minutes, these Olympics.
Their presence is felt once they are on the court, in all facets of the game.
Spain has always been about ball movement, and with Ricky Rubio playing this well, they are ready to compete for Gold in this year’s tournament.
With Spain losing to Slovenia 95-87 in the final group preliminary game, they are in serious trouble.
Spain will now have to face Team USA in their next game, as Slovenia will play Germany instead. Barring a miracle, it is almost certain Spain will not be contending for Gold this year.
Slovenia (4th/Runner Up)
What Luka Doncic is doing right now in the Olympics is simply unheard of.
Luka Doncic is putting up video game numbers, as he consistently puts his team on his back.
What is unworldly about all of his historical performances seems to become second nature to the superstar athlete.
He's in good company. 🙇♂️
— FIBA #Tokyo2020 (@FIBA) July 26, 2021
Slovenia is really dangerous because they already know how to play with each other and who they are playing through.
Since everything revolves around Luka, everyone has established roles for what they need to do.
Furthermore, Slovenia has great spacing, letting Luka create without much defensive help.
Although they are lackadaisical in their transition defense, they have not been exposed as of yet in their group games.
With their win over Spain and clinching the best seed in Group C, Slovenia has the path to have one of the best Cinderella runs we have ever seen in the Olympics.
Slovenia will play Germany in the quarterfinals and will play the winner of France/Italy in the semifinals.
Tokyo Olympics Medal-Winning Teams
There is no doubt that “Pat Stacks” Patty Mills will continue to have stellar performances in the Tokyo Olympics.
— Basketball Australia (@BasketballAus) July 25, 2021
Whether he starts or comes off the bench, Patty brings the same intensity to every single game.
These past few Australian teams have been exciting, especially the ones they let Patty perform.
Even so, we have never seen an Olympic team win because of just one player.
In their win against Italy, we saw several teammates rise when the moments called them to.
— Basketball Australia (@BasketballAus) July 28, 2021
In their 86-83 victory, Australia had 5 players score over 14+ points (Baynes, Ingles, Landale, Mills, and Kay) and four players with 6+ rebounds (Baynes, Landale, Mills, and Kay).
Time and time again, Australia comes out of these world games looking exciting and this year has not changed.
With the formula to win Gold, Australia aims to keep games close, keep Patty in a rhythm, and own the third quarter.
The Australians will face Argentina in the quarterfinals and face the United States/Spain winner in the semifinals.
Evan Fournier has been waiting for his break-out role.
It just so happens, he’s doing that on the biggest stage in the world, the Olympics.
The Fournier-De Colo duo has taken the Olympics by storm, efficiently dominating the competition.
France hands USA men's basketball its first loss at the Olympics since 2004 😳 pic.twitter.com/xUIsc9eZcB
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) July 25, 2021
Adjusting to FIBA rules has been seamless for Rudy Gobert.
France’s wall/help defense is intensified even more with one of the best shot blockers in the world staying in the paint.
Even with the starters’ success, France’s most interesting dimension is their depth.
In their victory against the Czech Republic, where they won 97-77, their bench absolutely showed up scoring 39 points in limited minutes. In extended minutes, they have shown they can play with any and everyone.
It is safe to say France will win out if they continue to play well. At the same time, their rematch with Team USA is inevitable.
France will now play Italy in their quarterfinals game and will face the winner of Slovenia/Germany in the semifinals before their chance at Gold.
Tokyo Olympics Winner: USA (1st/Gold)
The U.S. is not having the kind of success that they are accustomed to.
Nigeria just beat Team USA basketball. One of the biggest upsets in international basketball history.
— Craig Melvin (@craigmelvin) July 11, 2021
Their roster just does not make much sense.
There aren’t any facilitating point guards, there are too many isolation scorers, and a lack of bigs.
Not only that but they are unsure what their rotations are.
Given that understanding, they have chemistry issues unlike teams on this list.
France's Evan Fournier after beating USA Basketball in Tokyo Olympic opener: "They are better individually but they can be beaten as a team."
— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) July 25, 2021
With that said, they have the talent.
Kevin Durant and Damian Lillard are two of the three best players in the Olympic tournament.
All they need is spacing, consistency, a pick & roll, and things will figure themselves out.
Team USA now has more spacing and system-type players that can excel in international play with their new additions, Middleton & Holiday.
Provided that spacing, it was only a matter of time Team USA would find their groove. They did just that against Iran.
— USA Basketball (@usabasketball) July 28, 2021
As Team USA finds their best rotations, they will only get better. With this in mind, Team USA will overcome this adversity and win Gold.
Team USA will face Spain in their quarterfinals game and will face the winner of Australia-Argentina in the semifinals before getting a chance to repeat as champions.