- 2020 Tokyo Olympics Men’s Basketball Predictions
2020 Tokyo Olympics Men’s Basketball Predictions
Pickswise's Expert Predictions & Analysis
Without USA pick
The USA has been dominant on the Olympic stage, winning gold in each of the last three Olympic Games. However, it looks like this year may be more of a struggle than years past and we could potentially see a repeat of 2004, where the team had to settle for bronze. While the USA boasts superstar talents in Kevin Durant, Damian Lillard and Jayson Tatum, they have not had a good warm-up to the tournament. For one, the team has already suffered two defeats to Nigeria and Australia. They have also been rocked by injuries, with Bradley Beal and Kevin Love pulling out and Zach LaVine and Jerami Grant’s preparations being disrupted by COVID-19. With Khris Middleton, Devin Booker, and Jrue Holiday arriving late due to their participation in the NBA Finals, coach Gregg Popovich may need to work a miracle on the fly to get this unit clicking. The USA is not a sure bet to win it all, despite what the odds may suggest.
Taking the USA out of the equation, Slovenia has a fantastic opportunity to make it to the final. One could argue that Luka Doncic is the best player at this tournament, especially offensively. And despite missing Goran Dragic, and boasting only one other NBA player in Denver Nuggets small forward Vlatko Cancar, this team knows how to win games. They are the reigning European champions from 2017, and Doncic has improved leaps and bounds since then. Around him, Slovenia has exceptional shooting, with the team making 46 percent of their shots from deep in their four Olympic qualifying games this summer. While they lack size on the interior, no team in the tournament has the players to truly punish them in this area. The Gasol brothers are a long way past their prime while big men Rudy Gobert and Bam Adebayo are not known for scoring from the low block. With their high tempo, terrific shooting, and the double teams that Doncic is bound to draw, do not be surprised to see this Slovenia team win gold, especially with the troubles the USA has had in friendlies defending the deep ball.
Without USA pick
Nigeria is the first team from Africa to beat the USA, having picked up a 90-87 win in Las Vegas recently. That should not come as much of a surprise as outside of the USA, Nigeria boasts the most NBA players at the tournament. They have Gabe Vincent of the Miami Heat, who gives them great outside shooting, and Jahlil Okafor of the Detroit Pistons should be well suited to the international game and can do damage on the inside. Forwards Josh Okogie, Precious Achiuwa, and Chimezie Metu of the Sacramento Kings give this team phenomenal defensive potential, especially with Mike Brown at the helm of the team.
Nigeria managed to beat Argentina, which is ranked fourth in the world, in the warm-ups too, so their win over the USA was clearly no fluke. Do not be surprised if this group makes history once more and becomes the first African team to pick up a medal at the Games, with a trip to the final not out of the question.