2020 Olympics: the best players to watch

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With the NBA season over and a new champion crowned, the sports world is shifting its focus to Tokyo for the Olympics. 12 teams have qualified for the right to play for the gold medal through international tournaments, including the 2019 FIBA ​​World Cup. While the country is still battling a spike in covid cases, there are still some doubts that the Olympics themselves could be canceled for a second time.

Here’s an overview of the players to keep an eye on during the basketball tournament of the Olympics.

Iran: Hamed Haddadi
Hamed Haddadi is a name few basketball fans may or may not remember. Haddadi was the first Iranian to play in the NBA, playing for the Memphis Grizzlies and Phoenix Suns. Currently, Haddadi plays against Sichuan Blue Whales of the Chinese Basketball Association, where he was the MVP of the CBA Finals in 2016.

Haddadi is Iran’s captain, leading them to three FIBA ​​Asia Cup victories in 2007, 2009 and 2013, a silver medal in 2017 and a bronze medal in 2015. He averaged 14.6 points and 10.8 rebounds per competition during the 2019 FIBA ​​World Cup. Haddadi may not play in the NBA anymore, but he could impress a few talent scouts looking for a big one.

France: Rudy Gobert
France is one of the strongest teams in the field of 12, especially with a history of bringing talents like Tony Parker, Mickaël Pietrus and Boris Diaw to the NBA. It was difficult to choose which players from France would be the best to watch, but based on their performances over the season and their stats, Rudy Gobert gets the nod. Gobert has been a force for the Utah Jazz this season, averaging 14.3 points and 13.5 rebounds per game. During the 2019 World Cup, Gobert averaged 10.1 points and 9.0 rebounds.

Gobert plays as a man on a mission and will have to do it if he wants to bring a gold medal to France.

USA: BAM Adebayo
Like France, the US is a powerhouse in the field of 12. Unlike the French, the US has a storied history of big wins in the Olympics, dating back to the Dream Team of the Barcelona Games in 1992. With the collected roster for this year’s US team, it was a tough choice to pick which player would be the one to watch.

Bam Adebayo will be the one to watch. Of the many players for team USA, some of whom are making their Olympic debuts, Adebayo will be the most intriguing. Missing Team USA roster for the FIBA ​​World Cup, leaving him with a lot to prove, Adebayo did so in a big way in the NBA Bubble, catching the eye of coach Gregg Popovich.

Although Adebayo’s Miami Heat squad was defeated by eventual champion Milwaukee Bucks, playing in the Olympics will give Adebayo a much-needed chance to prove just how efficient he really is on the field.

Czech Republic: Tomas Satoransky
The Czech Republic will have the chance to participate in the basketball tournament, but they will face stiff competition in their group, including the aforementioned USA and France. Although the Czech Republic faces a huge task in their group, one player must take on the task of leading them, and that is Tomas Satoransky.

Satoransky, currently playing for the Chicago Bulls, can use the Olympics as a learning experience. He averaged 7.7 points and 4.7 assists per game, a pale comparison to his EuroLeague days when he played for FC Barcelona Basquet, where he averaged 8.1 points and 3.4 assists. Satoransky will no doubt have his hands full taking the Czech Republic out of the group, but raising the level of his game should be a priority.

Australia: Patty Mills
Australia, like France and the US, has a number of talents that they have spawned over the years, from Luc Longley to Matthew Dellavedova. The Aussies recently defeated the US in a 91-83 match led by San Antonio Spurs guard Patty Mills.

Mills has played internationally for Australia since 2007, leading them to several Oceanic Championships, albeit against New Zealand. In addition to becoming NBA champion in 2014, Mills’ championship expertise and leadership role will come in handy for the Aussies, especially with his three-point shooting and playing prowess.

Germany: Moritz Wagner
Germany, the country responsible for enriching the basketball world with the talents of Dirk Nowitzki, will be represented at the basketball tournament in Tokyo. Although Germany has a young core of talented players, they will have to develop and learn during this tournament. One of those players to watch is Moritz Wagner.

Currently, Wagner appears to be the captain of the German basketball team at the Orlando Magic. He averaged 11.0 points and 4.9 rebounds for the Magic. For this young German team, playing in the basketball tournament will be a learning experience, but for Wagner it will help him build a potential star for Orlando.

Italy: Nico Mannion
The Italian team has a group of players with some advantage like Danilo Gallinari and promising potential like Nicolò Melli, but there is one player who can impress on the pitch. Nico Mannion, who currently plays for the Golden State Warriors, has the skills and confidence to be a three-point threat to Italy.

Mannion will be the one to watch Italy apart from Gallinari. He will be big for them from outside the arc, but his defense will be much desired if Italy are to advance in the field of 12.

Nigeria: Precious Achiuwa
Nigeria, the only African team in the field of 12 to deliver a big surprise in an exhibition against the US, has talent looking to prove their might on the field and look for more big surprises. Like the majority of the teams in this tournament, Nigeria has young talent to keep an eye on, but more specifically Precious Achiuwa.

Achiuwa’s rookie season with the Miami Heat left a lot to be desired, especially when he could have been lined up and learned under Adebayo and Jimmy Butler. While he didn’t have an NBA Summer League where he could fine-tune his skills, playing in the Olympics will help him become a better player. If Achiuwa can bring the same tenacity as when he blocked Kevin Durant’s dunk, Nigeria will be a force to be reckoned with in defense.

Argentina: Facundo Campazzo
Argentina shocked the world when they took home the gold in 2004, led by Luis Scola and NBA champion Manu Ginobili. Fast forward to now and the Argentines are still looking to repeat the same success. While Scola will lead the team, it is Facundo Campazzo that many should pay close attention to.

There are those who compare Campazzo to Ginobili, but that’s only because they see Campazzo as an heir to the throne. Campazzo will certainly have big shoes to fill and Argentina will really need a player who seems to be escaping the shadow of his predecessor.

Japan: Rui Hachimura
The host country Japan seems to leave more than an impression on the basketball world. In the past, Japanese players like Yuta Tabuse made their way into the NBA, but now there is more representation in Yuta Watanabe and Rui Hachimura, who want to guide more Japanese basketball players to the NBA and make basketball a major sport.

Hachimura’s career in the NBA still has a lot of room to grow, but as Japan captain he will take his game to the next level. He averaged 13.8 points per game this season and 14.8 points in the play-in tournament. Look for Hachimura for a breakout tournament, which will evolve into an upcoming breakout season that could lead to an all-star and compete for the Most Improved Player award.

Spain: Pau Gasol
Spain is the undisputed powerhouse in European basketball, with stars such as Victor Claver, Ricky Rubio, Juan Hernangomez, Sergio Rodriguez and most notably the Gasol Brothers. While we’re on the subject of the Gasols, both Pau and Marc could have been labeled as the ones to watch, Pau will be the most obvious choice.

Pau led Spain in many Olympics, dating back to 2004 and then bringing the team to the forefront. In addition to leading Spain to a 2006 FIBA ​​World Cup victory and three EuroBasket championships, Pau’s leadership is effective. Pau currently plays for FC Barcelona Basquet and still plays at a high level.

Slovenia: Luka Doncic
Slovenia rounds out the field of 12 making their Olympic basketball debut and in a major way. Led by Luka Dončić, Slovenia has a superstar capable of triple-double performances on a consistent basis. However, the rest of the team will have to lift heavy to help their captain.

Slovenia’s recent tournament championship was in 2017 when they won the Eurobasket tournament. Since then, Slovenia has known the success of not only Dončić, but also that of Goran and Zoran Dragić. Slovenia’s ascension to the world stage in basketball is just the beginning of perhaps the next European powerhouse like Spain, France and Lithuania.

The Olympics start tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. on NBC, but the group stage of the basketball tournament kicks off Saturday at 9 p.m. when Iran takes on the Czech Republic.

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