The men’s basketball tournament at the 2016 Rio Olympics will start in a couple of days and the United States National Team composed of NBA stars is the favorite to win. However, the presence of the NBA is not just in the US but almost all the participating countries.
According to CBS Sports, there are 71 players that are connected to the NBA whether a current, former or a draft pick. If there are no injuries and fear of the Zika Virus and security at the 2016 Rio Olympics, there would have been more players with ties to the NBA involved.
Let’s take a look at all the 12 teams participating in the 2016 Rio Olympics and all the current, former and draft picks from the NBA
Even though players such as LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, Kawhi Leonard and James Harden are not part of Team USA, the Americans are still the favorites. The final roster of the United States includes Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, DeMarcus Cousins, Kyrie Irving, Paul George, Draymond Green, Kyle Lowry, Jimmy Butler, DeMar DeRozan, Klay Thompson, DeAndre Jordan and Harrison Barnes.
The Spaniards are still a threat to Team USA as they boast 11 players with ties to the NBA. Pau Gasol, Ricky Rubio, Jose Calderon, Sergio Rodriguez, Alex Abrines, Nikola Mirotic and Willy Hernangomez are on NBA rosters.
On the other hand, Juan Carlos Navarro, Rudy Fernandez and Victor Claver are former NBA players while Sergio Llull was a second-round pick by the Denver Nuggets in 2009.
The third best basketball country has produced a number of NBA players throughout the years. In the 2016 Rio Olympics, Jonas Valanciunas leads Lithuania along with Mindaugas Kuzminskas of the Knicks and Domantas Sabonis of the Thunder.
They also have former NBA draft picks Renaldas Seibutis and Robertas Jovtokas. Seibuties was drafted in the second round by Dallas while Jovtokas was a 2001 pick by the Spurs.
The 2004 Gold Medal winners have remained a good team with veteran NBA players such as Manu Ginobili and Luis Scola. Former NBA players Andres Nocioni and Carlos Delfino are still capable of playing at a high level while 23-year-old Patricio Garino was just signed by San Antonio.
One of the real threats to the Americans in basketball, France boasts five current and two former NBA players. The team is led by Tony Parker and Boris Diaw with Nicolas Batum, Rudy Gobert and Joffrey Lauvergne providing ample support. They also have reigning Euroleague MVP Nando De Colo and swingman Mickael Gelabale.
The sixth-ranked team in the world has only one current NBA player on their roster, Nikola Jokic, because Nemanja Bjelica is recovering from injury. Nevertheless, Serbia has former NBA players such as Nemanja Nedovic and Miroslav Raduljica, and NBA draft picks Bogdan Bogdanovic and Milan Macvan.
The hosts will be led by five current NBA stars including Leandro Barbosa, Nene Hilario, Raul Neto, Marcelo Huertas and Cristiano Felicia. Brazil’s former NBA players that many fans might not have heard of are Alex Garcia and Marquinhos Souza.
The reigning champions of Oceania will be led by Andrew Bogut and Matthew Dellavedova. Aron Bynes, Joe Ingles and Patty Mills provide additional star power while former NBA players David Andersen, Cameron Bairstow and Brock Motum are the supporting cast.
Australia could have had two more young NBA players, Dante Exum and Ben Simmons. Exum is currently recovering from a knee injury while Simmons is preparing for his rookie season in the NBA.
Croatia boasts a very young core that will get much-needed experience in the 2016 Rio Olympics. They are led by Dario Saric, Bojan Bogdanovic and Mario Hezonja while Roko Ukic provides veteran leadership.
The Asian champions have no current NBA players and have only Yi Jianlian with an experience to play in the NBA. However, they have two young players from the recent draft, Zhou Qi and Wang Zhelin.
Unfortunately for the reigning FIBA Americas champion, they are the only team without any ties to the NBA. Brooklyn Nets guard Greivis Vasquez pulled out of the 2016 Rio Olympics due to an injury.
Finally, the African champions have the best roster in their history with former NBA players Ike Diogu, Josh Akognon and Ben Uzoh leading the way. They also have Detroit Pistons swingman Michael Gbinije. Nigeria would have been much stronger if Al-Farouq Aminu and Festus Ezeli did not withdraw their participation at the last minute.
Australia and France will kick off the men’s basketball tournament at the 2016 Rio Olympics on Saturday. Team USA’s first opponent will be the Asian champions, China, and it is scheduled after the first game.