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One of the most fun things about the Olympic basketball tournament is the reshuffling of familiar players. It’s a chance to watch NBA players in different contexts, often playing different roles with different teammates and in a different style. In some cases, you even get one more chance to watch old favorites who are no longer even playing in the NBA — like Pau Gasol, who played his last NBA game two-and-a-half years ago but will be suiting up for Spain with his brother Marc.
Here are all the NBA players, past, present and future you’ll get to see on international rosters during the Olympic basketball tournament, which tips off this weekend.
France: Nicolas Batum, Nando de Colo, Evan Fournier, Rudy Gobert, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Frank Ntilikina, Vincent Poirer, Guerschon Yabusele
There are lots of familiar faces on the French roster but Yabusele is, for me, the most interesting by far. He wasn’t able to stick in the Celtics organization and found his way back to Europe after the 2018-19 season. But his combination of bulk and agility, and boundless enthusiasm, made him a joy to watch. He’s been starting at the 4 for the French team and has averaged 14.2 points, 12 rebounds and 2.7 assists per 36 minutes, on a 59.7 true shooting percentage. He’s still just 25 and even if this isn’t a meaningful audition for an NBA return, it will be fun to just see him get a chance to cause chaos.
Czech Republic: Tomas Satoransky, Jan Vesely
Vesely is another player who couldn’t put it together in the NBA but has found his niche in Europe. He’s 31 now, not the explosive athlete he was as young player in the NBA, but still has plenty of highlight postential.
Japan: Rui Hachimura, Yuta Watanabe
If you ever wondered what the Wizards would look like without Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal, and with Rui Hachimura shooting 25 times per game, then boy do I have a treat for you.
Germany: Isaac Bonga, Mo Wagner
If you ever wondered what the Wizards would look like without Russell Westbrook, Bradley Beal, and Rui Hachimura, and with Mo Wagner and Isaac Bonga shooting 25 times per game, then boy do I have a treat for you.
Italy: Danilo Gallinari, Nico Mannion, Nicolo Melli
Nico Mannion has looked really strong in Italy’s Olympic warm-ups and his games should be must-watch events for optimistic Golden State Warriors’ fans.
Slovenia: Luka Doncic, Vlatko Cancar
Watching Slovenia in the Olympics is going to be all about marveling at Luka Doncic’s brilliance and hoping against hope that he doesn’t get injured or wear himself down before the next NBA season.
Nigeria: Precious Achiuwa, KZ Okpala, Gabe Vincent, Miye Oni, Josh Okogie, Jordan Nwora, Chimezie Metu, Jahlil Okafor
Nigeria’s roster is loaded with NBA role players who will get a chance to step into featured roles on the Olympic stage. They already pulled off an upset against Team USA and thumped Argentina two days later. Okafor is getting lots of post touches and it’s fun to see him doing useful basketball things in this context, but Nigeria has a deep team that should be an exciting underdog challenger.
Argentina: Leandro Bolmaro, Luis Scola, Facundo Campazzo, Luca Vildoza
Argentina’s team isn’t as deep with NBA talent as it has been in previous years. But there’s still the opportunity for some Luis Scola magic. And Timberwolves (Bolmaro) and Knicks (Vildoza) fans will want to get a first look at some future talents who should be joining their rosters next season.
Australia: Aron Baynes, Matthew Dellavedova, Dante Exum, Josh Green, Joe Ingles, Patty Mills, Matisse Thybulle
Australia looks like a real Gold Medal contender with a deep, experienced roster of NBA players and the budding confidence of having already beaten team USA once. Ingles and Mills are reliable scorers and initiators at this level, Baynes is capable of banging with the Gasols and Scolas of the tournament and Thybulle, Exum, Green and Dellavedova give them a slew of pesky perimeter defenders to throw at opponents.
Spain: Pau Gasol, Marc Gasol, Rudy Fernandez, Ricky Rubio, Willy Hernangomez, Sergio Rodriguez, Juan Hernangomez, Alex Abrines, Usman Garuba, Victor Claver
Spain’s roster is loaded with some legit (former) NBA stars in the Gasol brothers as well as a slew of high-level former NBA role players. They have one of the older rosters in the competition but experience and familiarity have worked to their advantage in the past. For fans of NBA teams holding late lottery picks, hyper-athletic big man Usman Garuba is a must-watch prospect who should be in the league next season.
Milwaukee’s defense has risen to the occasion in beating back the Phoenix Suns. And Jrue Holiday’s calculated gamble in Game 5 may turn out to be the key play of the series for the Bucks.
If you’re a masochist hungry for more Portland Trail Blazers-Damian Lillard drama, Kevin O’Connor catches you up on the past, present and future.