Men’s Olympic Basketball Preview


Last Finish: 3-3 in 2016

41-year-old Luis Scola will almost certainly rise to 4th place on the all-time Olympic scoring charts in Tokyo and serves as the bridge between this group and Argentina’s “Golden Generation.” Replacing those legends with a deep group that has made significant strides in their mid-20’s, this team includes a remarkable 3 mid-season NBA signings in Facundo Campazzo, Luca Vildoza, and Gabriel Deck. While their shooting and defense will be x-factors, the ability of this team to control tempo is a point of interest as well. Nearly 20% of their possessions have come in transition internationally in recent years—well above average.


Last Finish: 5-3 in 2016

Australia was one of two teams to average over 1.00 points per possession during the 2016 Games. Patty Mills set the tone for this team four years ago and forms a terrific one-two punch with Joe Ingles who has improved dramatically after playing a complementary role on that team. This team’s shooting in preparation play leaves significant room for optimism leading into Tokyo.


Last Finish: First Games

Earning an Olympic bid with an improbable run through the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament after losing their first game in Canada, the Czech Republic figures to continue to lean on its ball movement and jump shooting. This group shot an eFG% of 69% on unguarded catch and shoot jumpers to qualify as the way they paid off quality shots was critical to their pair of narrow wins to reach the final.


Last Finish: 3-3 in 2016

France generated 45% of their possessions out of the pick and roll in the 2016 Games with Tony Parker and Nando De Colo at the helm. While De Colo returns alongside a host of NBA veterans, how France looks to put pressure on opposing defenses is a point of interest.


Last Finish: 1-4 in 2008

There may not be a Dirk Nowitzki for this Germany team to lean on, but their performance in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Split showed what this group can accomplish collectively. They did a stellar job defending the perimeter in their four victories holding opposing offenses to just 31% shooting beyond the arc in the half court. Their own three-point shooting remains an x-factor as they have fared a ways better in recent weeks than they did in qualifying play.


Last Finish: 0-5 in 2008

Iran was the least efficient offensive team at the Beijing Olympics scoring 0.80 points per possession unable to get much going from the perimeter, but they scored a dramatically improved 0.90 points per possession at the 2019 FIBA World Cup. Their ability to control tempo will be key to their ability to stay competitive—they were outscored by 4 points per game in transition in the 2019 effort that helped them quality for these Games.


Last Finish: 1-6 in 1976

Italy’s execution and unselfishness on the perimeter propelled them to victory at the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Serbia. A massive 40% of the shots they created within their half court sets were catch and shoot jumpers which they converted for an absurd eFG% of 71%. Simone Fontecchio and Achille Polonara supplied the timely shot-making with Nico Mannion creating many of their looks out of ball screens fresh off his rookie year with the Warriors.


Last Finish: 1-6 in 1976

Qualified for their first Olympics in almost 50 years as the host of this year’s games, Japan will lean heavily on Rui Hachimura who scored 0.93 points per possession at the 2019 FIBA World Cup prior to his rookie season in the NBA. He has averaged 0.99 points per possession over 13.8 possessions per game over his first two seasons with the Wizards making notable strides as jump shooter in his second year.


Last Finish: 1-4 in 2016

After scoring a below average 0.87 points per possession in the half court in 2016, Nigeria set a high bar scoring 0.98 in their upset win over the United States in preparation play. Their ability to score against a set defense remains this group’s x-factor, but this group showed just how high their potential is reflective to their predecessors with that showing in Las Vegas.


Last Finish: 5-3 in 2016

One of two teams competing in 2021 who medaled in 2016, Spain brings an experienced roster with great chemistry to Tokyo that went undefeated at the FIBA World Cup in 2019. Ricky Rubio has set the tone for the reigning World Champions in exhibition play. While he used only 7% of Spain’s possessions in the last Games, he has been featured prominently in his team’s offense using almost a quarter of them in recent weeks. His ability to not just create for others, but score himself figures to play a key role in Spain’s late-round fortunes.


Last Finish: First Olympics

Knowing what we do now, Luka Doncic’s performance as an 18-year-old at Eurobasket 2017 was a clear signal of the greatness ahead of him. This group averaged a massive 1.21 points per possession in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Lithuania with Doncic carrying his All-NBA momentum into international play and Slovenia’s supporting cast stepping up around him.


Last Finish: 8-0 in 2016

For all their offensive fire-power, the United States allowed a top-ranked 0.86 points per possession during the 2016 Games and their ability to get stops helped them through pre-knockout round scares from Serbia and France. After some growing pains in their preparation schedule this cycle, this group’s ability to string together stops will determine just how well they fair against elite competition.


Women’s Olympic Basketball preview coming soon!


Giannis Antetokounmpo – NBA Champion


Women’s Olympic Basketball Preview