There are quite a few star-level absences from global lineups this year (there will only be seven All-Stars and just three players who made All-NBA this year participating), but there’s still quite a good amount of talent competing in the Games for basketball this summer, perhaps even more than many were expecting due to the quick turnaround from the NBA season to the Olympics. So we decided to rank the Top 30 players competing at the Tokyo Olympic basketball tournament. Before we get started, we wanted to make clear that we factored in perceived FIBA value a bit into the ranking, which will explain why some guys who are role players in the NBA but stars in international competitions are ranked where they are.
Let’s get into it.
Luka Doncic (Slovenia)
It was pretty close between Kevin Durant and Luka Doncic, but we went with the Slovenian guard here. Even though still super young, Doncic has dominated at this level before with Slovenia, already having won gold with his country once before at the 2017 Eurobasket. He’ll also be carrying most of the load offensively for his country, not having to share the ball with other NBA-level players. That means we could be about to see the young playmaker put up scary numbers at the Olympics. Doncic also has already been named MVP once this summer at the Olympic qualifying tournament in Kaunas where he led Slovenia in a hostile environment against Lithuania and two NBA studs (Jonas Valanciunas and Domantas Sabonis). Doncic dropped a 31-point, 13-assist, 11-rebound triple-double in the deciding game, so that pretty much shows the type of form he’s in heading into the Olympics, and why we ended up with him as the top player at the upcoming tournament.
Precious Achiuwa (Nigeria)
He didn’t get a chance to show much in his rookie year with the Miami Heat, but in friendly competition with Nigeria, Precious Achiuwa looked impressive, blocking a Durant dunk, finishing lobs, hitting threes and even bringing the ball down to score in transition. Achiuwa’s energy and defensive versatility should make him a solid player in his first taste of official international competition at the Olympics.
Kevin Durant (USA)
The player who came very close to taking the top spot in this ranking, Kevin Durant is even more proven at the international level than Doncic is, with three gold medals to his name already, twice from the Olympics and once from the 2010 World Cup in Turkey. But Durant will have to share a lot more of the ball with other superstar-level talents on Team USA than Doncic will with Slovenia, who don’t have a single other NBA player on their roster, which was part of the reasoning for why each player finished ranked where they were respectively. Doncic will almost undoubtedly put up better numbers than Durant at the upcoming Olympics, but the latter is much more likely to finish at the top of the podium than the former.
Damian Lillard (USA)
This will be Damian Lillard’s first taste of official international competition as a member of Team USA, but judging by his form over recent years and his play in the tune-up games leading up to the competition, he should figure out how to dominate at this level with little problem. The shorter three-point line, especially, should work to Lillard’s advantage greatly, as the outside marksman will be able to set up for his looks from beyond the arc from closer than he has to in the NBA. We already saw signs of that in Team USA’s friendlies ahead of the Olympics, as Lillard nailed 44.4 percent of his threes over those four contests.
Rudy Gobert (France)
Utah Jazz big man Rudy Gobert has three bronze medals in his international career so far, two from the World Cup and one from Eurobasket, so these upcoming Olympics will be the French center’s best chance to medal for the first time in the prestigious Games. Gobert will be one of five NBA players participating in the Olympics for France this year, to go along with various players coming from high-level European leagues, so the French will be a tough squad for anyone to face. With the shorter three-point line in FIBA competitions, spacing won’t be as much of an issue as it is for teams in the NBA, so Gobert’s defense might be even more dominant at this level, a scary thought for opponents… including the Americans.
Devin Booker (USA)
Like with Lillard, the Olympics will be Devin Booker’s first taste of international competition, though he won’t have the benefit of tune-up games to figure things out with his Team USA teammates. Booker is set to arrive in Tokyo on Saturday with Team USA’s first game of the Olympics taking place the next day, on Sunday, against France. So much for easing into international competition, as the French have one of the most loaded rosters USA Basketball will face at the Olympics. Regardless, Booker is more than talented enough to figure things out quickly, though he may have to come off the bench for the Americans initially, as the other 2-guard on the roster, Zach LaVine, has been with the team for weeks now.
Jayson Tatum (USA)
Jayson Tatum has won gold two times with Team USA, but both times at the youth level, at the 2014 U17 World Cup and at the 2015 U19 World Cup, meaning this summer will be his first taste of international competition at the senior level. Still, having that experience of what international basketball is like will be big for Tatum, and he’ll be expected to carry a big load for the American squad at the Olympics, something that shouldn’t be an issue for the supremely talented bucket-getter.
Khris Middleton (USA)
This summer will be Khris Middleton’s first time representing Team USA, something he’ll be doing coming off a title run with Milwaukee and a fantastic individual performance throughout the 2021 playoffs. Middleton is in great form right now, and the quick turnaround between the Finals and Olympics should allow him to carry that form directly into international competition. What’s more, the fact that he’s so familiar with his role as a No. 2 option should help him acclimate nicely into what’s a loaded Team USA roster; he’ll get timely buckets when needed and contribute in other areas when the ball isn’t in his hands.
Zach LaVine (USA)
Just like this was his first time making an All-Star team this season, this will also be his first time suiting up for Team USA, but if the tune-up games are any indication, that’ll be A-OK for Chicago Bulls 2-guard Zach LaVine. LaVine’s explosive bounce, quick release and deep shooting range should help him thrive in the international setting, as well as his ability to take the ball to the hole against more physical defenders.
Bam Adebayo (USA)
Another first-time representative for Team USA, Bam Adebayo was selected to represent the Americans thanks to his ultra-versatile defensive abilities, as a big man capable of dealing with bruising frontcourt players down low or switching onto wings and guards when guarding the pick-and-roll. Adebayo won’t be asked to score much for Team USA at the Olympics, but his energy, playmaking and defense will make him one of the most important members of the squad right away. Plus, with a roster so heavy on isolation scorers and lacking a bit defensively, Adebayo’s strengths make him even more crucial to the team’s success.
Jrue Holiday (USA)
Another Team USA player who is being brought along for his complementary style of play and not necessarily to score is Jrue Holiday, who is currently one of the best perimeter defenders in basketball, something that he has proven over the years but especially in Milwaukee’s championship run. If one thing was missing for the Americans in their tune-up competition, other than team chemistry, it was perimeter defense, which Holiday will undoubtedly provide in spades off the bench for Team USA.
Patrick Mills (Australia)
A player with loads of FIBA experience, Australia’s Patty Mills has won gold four times with his country, all in the FIBA Oceania Championship. The Olympics, obviously, will be a clear step up in competition from that level, though that will be zero problems for Mills, who has already competed in three other Olympics, helping them finish as high as fourth in the 2016 Games, as well as in one World Cup. Mills has thrived in international competition throughout his prime, finishing the 2012 London Olympics as the leading scorer in basketball at 21.2 points per contest, which he followed up in the 2016 Rio Olympics by averaging 21.3 points. Flat-out, Mills is a beast in the international setting, and opposing countries will have a hard time slowing down his scoring, even the Americans, especially considering Mills will have six NBA teammates on the squad with Australia. We might even be underrating Mills with this ranking, in fact – he’s that seasoned and reliable in international competition.
Ricky Rubio (Spain)
Another veteran of international competition who has been awesome representing his country in the past, Spain’s Ricky Rubio is one of the main players to watch in the upcoming Tokyo Olympics. Rubio has won gold three separate times with Spain, twice in EuroBasket and once at the 2019 World Cup in China, where he was named MVP. The best he’s done in the Olympics, however, is silver at the 2008 Games and bronze at the 2016 Games, so this summer will be one of Rubio’s last chances at winning Olympic gold. Rubio will be tasked with taking a more primary role with Spain this summer, and perhaps do more scoring than he’s accustomed to as opposed to just playmaking, as the Spaniards’ golden generation of basketball has aged a bit and hasn’t been replaced by a new wave of studs quite yet, at least not in the backcourt.
Joe Ingles (Australia)
Australia’s Joe Ingles shoots the three-ball at an elite rate in the NBA, so with the shortened FIBA line, he’ll be even deadlier knocking down shots from the perimeter. Ingles’ tough defense and underrated playmaking will also get a chance to shine in the upcoming Olympics, where he’ll get a chance to medal at an international competition that’s not the Oceania Championship for the first time. Anything less than a bronze medal for the Australians in Tokyo should be considered a disappointment, considering the field is missing multiple strong teams, as well as with how loaded their team is with NBA talent and proven international commodities like Ingles and Mills.
Danilo Gallinari (Italy)
Italy has never medaled at the senior level with Danilo Gallinari in the fold, which is a shame considering he’s likely the best player the country has ever produced. The Italians will get another shot to do so this summer, but with so many strong teams and merely one other NBA player in the fold for the Olympics (Nico Mannion), it won’t be easy. Even so, Gallinari should have a nice tournament, as he’s experienced in FIBA settings and has the shooting range that’ll translate at that level.
Draymond Green (USA)
Like Adebayo, Draymond Green was selected by the Americans for his elite defensive acumen, but he brings a couple of things that Adebayo doesn’t: international experience and leadership. Green has represented Team USA at the senior level once before, helping the team win gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics, putting up mundane numbers while doing so – 1.9 points and 2.1 rebounds – but still being quite effective in his role. Still, Green knows what his job on the team will be, to defend, get teammates into the right positions on both ends of the floor and knock down the occasional wide-open three. Anything else that Green provides will be the cherry on top for Team USA.
Facundo Campazzo (Argentina)
A weathered international competitor, Facundo Campazzo has competed in 16 different FIBA senior-level competitions for Argentina, including two Olympics and two World Cups, helping his country finish fourth in the 2012 London Olympics and win a silver medal at the 2019 World Cup. His feistiness defensively and creative playmaking help him thrive in the international setting.
Evan Fournier (France)
At the senior level, Evan Fournier has helped France to three bronze medals in his international career, once in Eurobasket and twice in the World Cup, in 2014 and 2019. He was part of the French team in 2019 that knocked the Americans out in the quarterfinals of the World Cup, leading the team in scoring that day with 22 points to go with three rebounds and four assists.
Rui Hachimura (Japan)
Washington Wizards forward Rui Hachimura has yet to represent Japan in official competition at the senior level, though through three tournaments at the youth level, he has performed extremely well, averaging 22.0 points and 10.1 rebounds. As Japan’s best player and with the Olympics taking place him his home country, expectations will be high for Hachimura this summer.
Jerami Grant (USA)
This summer’s Olympics will be Jerami Grant’s first time representing Team USA, a role he was selected for thanks to his defensive versatility and willingness to do the dirty work. Grant’s ability to switch on defense will be especially important for the Americans this summer.
Tomas Satoransky (Czech Republic)
Tomas Satoransky heads to the Olympics with a lot of international experience and in great form, having just led the Czech Republic to qualify for the Games for the first time ever by upsetting the heavily favored Canadians in the semi-final contest, an outing that saw Satoransky hit the game-winner, and then by beating Greece in the final. Able to score, rebound and create, Satoransky should put up impressive numbers this summer.
Nicolas Batum (France)
Nicolas Batum possesses a load of international experience, having won three bronze medals (two in the World Cup and one in Eurobasket), one silver (Eurobasket) and one gold (Eurobasket) with his country. He heads to Tokyo likely full of confidence, too, after a resurgent season with the Los Angeles Clippers in 2020-21. Batum’s shooting and defense will be pivotal for the French squad.
Matisse Thybulle (Australia)
These Olympics will be Matisse Thybulle’s first time representing Australia. He’ll be one of seven NBAers participating for the Australians, and his role with the team will likely be similar to his NBA role: to defend the opposing team’s best wings and to wreak havoc jumping passing lanes.
Marc Gasol (Spain)
Marc Gasol is one of the most decorated international basketball competitors ever, with four gold medals (two World Cup and two Eurobaskets) and three silver medals (two Olympics and one Eurobasket) to his name. Now 36, however, this summer will likely be one of Gasol’s last chances to bring home the one thing his loaded resume is missing, an Olympic gold.
Keldon Johnson (USA)
Eyebrows were raised when Team USA announced Keldon Johnson would be one of their injury replacements headed to Tokyo, but his play in the team’s final tune-up game, where he dropped 15 points, three rebounds and two steals against Spain, helped ease some of those concerns. In all likelihood, Johnson won’t be getting much playing time in Tokyo, but for the Americans, it’s good to know if he’s called upon, he can contribute in a positive fashion.
Nando De Colo (France)
For years, Nando de Colo has been widely considered one of the best basketball players in the world who didn’t play in the NBA. This summer will offer NBA fans another chance to find out why, as the smooth, confident guard can get buckets and create for teammates with the best of them. De Colo heads to Tokyo with tons of international experience, as he was also part of the 2019 World Cup French team that upset the Americans and finished third.
Luis Scola (Argentina)
Had this been peak, Luis Scola, the Argentine big man would have ranked far higher on this list, as FIBA Scola was a force to be reckoned with in his heyday, extending his range out to the three-point line, befuddling opponents with his low post moves and craftiness around the basket. Scola is one of the most decorated international competitors in basketball ever, with Olympic gold on his resume, as well as two World Cup silver medals. This will almost certainly be Scola’s swan song, at least in international competition, as the big man is now 41 years old.
Pau Gasol (Spain)
Pau Gasol will certainly go down as one of the greatest non-American basketball players in history, and if this really is it for his career (all indications are that he’ll retire after the Olympics), what a career it was, especially internationally. In the FIBA play, the older Gasol brother has four gold medals (three Eurobasket, one World Cup) and four silver medals (two Olympic and two Eurobasket) under his belt. What a moment it would be if Gasol’s career ends in a few weeks with an Olympic gold medal, the one thing he doesn’t have on his mantle yet.
Aron Baynes (Australia)
He won’t provide much on the actual score sheet, but Aron Baynes will do similar for Australia at the Olympics that he does in the NBA, and that’s set bruising screens, battle down low, protect the paint with his body rather than try to block shots and perhaps hit a three or two nightly.
JaVale McGee (USA)
From nearly representing the Philippines to receiving a late call-up to take part in the 2020 Tokyo Games with the Americans, what a career whirlwind it’s been for JaVale McGee. He may not play much, but if he does, it’ll be if a Team USA opponent has a big man going off or if the team is lacking in energy or shot-blocking, both of which McGee provides in spades.