Ranking Tokyo 2020 Basketball Teams At A Glance

Who will be the favorites heading into Tokyo 2020?

With the NBA season winding down, and the European league being over, we have a clear image of who will be at Tokyo 2020 for Olympic Basketball. While the top is quite clear cut, we have seen the development of certain countries superstars putting people on notice. The governing body of international basketball FIBA has their own rankings, which uses a point system based on a variety of factors to determine team’s ranks. While certainly useful to distinguish position rankings heading into the Summer Olympic Games, it doesn’t necessarily project into the future of how the teams may do. Let’s look at some quick narratives for each team, and put them in order. If you disagree, please feel free to tell me where I messed up!

#1: United States

©Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images

When the biggest controversy surrounding your team is if Kevin Love is good enough to make the roster, than I think you are sitting pretty. When your potential starting lineup includes the likes of Damian Lillard, Devin Booker, Kevin Durant, Jason Tatum and Bam Adebayo, with the likes of Bradley Beal possibly coming off the bench, you should expect to win. We also can’t forget the future hall of famer Greg Popovich will lead the squad once again, with Steve Kerr being one of his assistants.

#2 Australia

#3 Spain

Marc Gasol (left) and Pau Gasol (right) will suit up one more time together for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. ©Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Spanish basketball league (Liga ACB), is widely considered to be the second best league in the world. It’s the closest thing to the NBA there is, certainly outside of the United States, in terms of talent pool and developing top-level players. With multi-million dollar contracts and a rather loyal fan base, it’s easy to see why the best European prospects (I.e Luka Doncic), choose to make this their springboard to the NBA. The Spanish team is loaded with Euro League stars and some aging NBA vets, most famous being the Gasol brothers. Their team has high NBA draft prospect Usman Garuba joining the squad too, which should inject some young energy into the team. The Spaniards are always a dangerous bunch, claiming the world championships just two years ago in China.

#4 Argentina

#5 France

Rudy Gobert getting ready to shoot free throws. Photo via Fansided.

I think French athletes often get a lot of flack, especially in North American team-based sports. But underestimating France’s Tokyo 2020 basketball team would certainly be a mistake, especially on the defensive end. It’s obvious that their team is anchored by three time NBA Defensive Player of the Year, Rudy Gobert, but there are other pieces that make them particularly staunch defencively. Nicolas Batum who did a little bit of everything for the Clippers this year has great size (6'9"), and is just a year removed from a good defensive season with the Hornets. Knicks guard Frank Ntilikina, who despite often being labeled as a bust has shown the ability to at least defend well. For France it really is going to come down to if their offence can get enough going. All those players I mentioned, as much as they are capable defenders, they have struggled somewhat offensively.

#6 Slovenia

Luka Doncic representing Slovenia. Photo via Luka Doncic’s Twitter.

This is by far the biggest riser in my list, and is probably not justifiable by any means. Of course they are deserving to be in the games, but definitely aren’t viewed so highly in the eyes of many. But two words for you. “Luka magic”.

#7 Italy

Italy besting Serbia in their Olympic qualifying finals. ©FIBA

Italy is another one of those countries that seems to get disrespected, in terms of their basketball ability. They may not have the stars that some of the other European countries may have, at least in terms of NBA talent, but their roster is full of professionals from high level leagues. They were able to defeat one of the best teams in the world in Serbia in the finals of their qualifying tournament. They would best the Serbs on their home soil with the final score 102–95 Italy. They did so by running good half court offence and shooting over 41% from 3pt range. They also were able to get an advantage over the opposing team by outworking them on the glass, amassing more offensive rebounds and converting those second point chances.

#8 Nigeria

Nigeria defeating USA in a friendly match on July 10th 2021. ©NBC

#9 Czech Republic

#10 German

Germany qualifying for Tokyo 2020 with a win over Croatia. ©FIBA

Regardless the sport, the Germans are always a tenacious bunch regardless of the talent pool. They do have some familiar names for the Wizards fans out there ,with both Isaac Bonga and Wagner (now with Orlando) suiting up for Washington’s team this year. With their most publicized NBA star in Dennis Schroder opting out, it will be interesting to see who will lead the team. After a rather disappointing showing at the 2019 FIBA World Cup, finishing 18th out of 32 teams, there isn’t a lot of pressure heading into the tournament. I think a real asset to their team is head coach Henrik Rodl, who took over the program 4 years ago. Rodl was the point guard for the men’s national team in the 1990’s and early 2000’s, playing the likes of the Dream Team in Barcelona back in 1992, and contributing to Germany claiming the European Basketball Championship in 1993. Rodl will look to get the most out of his team, when the games kick off in just over a weeks time.

#11 Iran

Iran defeating Qatar to qualify for Tokyo 2020. ©FIBA

#12 Japan

Rui Hachimura (left) and Yuta Watanabe (right) ready to represent Japan at Tokyo 2020. Photo via Kyodo News.

If you wish to contact me, you can reach me at Shotarohmoore@hotmail.com

A writer living in Japan. Creating articles about the 2020 Tokyo Games. A regular contributor to Junkture Magazine. https://www.junkturemagazine.com