Patrick Mills (Australia)
Although Pat’s Australian team didn’t coast beyond the quarters, Mills proved to be the revelation of the tournament. His 21.2 PPG and 42 FG % singlehandedly carried Australia into the knockouts despite the team performing poorly against Spain and Brazil. His performance against Russia spoke volumes about him, especially his smooth transition from defense to offense, drive-ins and play calls like ISO, pick and roll. Moreover, being the leading scorer in Beijing for Australia mounted pressure on Mills’ shoulders to carry this team at London, to which he didn’t succumb. His clutch shot against Russia in the group stages showcased his resonance and composure, one of the few highlights of an otherwise morose-looking side.
The San Antonio Spurs, who cling onto Mills in the NBA, have themselves a player of huge caliber to develop. Hopefully in the coming years, this indigenous Australian will produce more of what we saw at the Olympics.
Kevin Durant (USA)
The Oklahoma City Thunder star dipped one three-pointer after another throughout the tournament. Such was his efficiency that the opponents often zoned him, which allowed Durant’s teammates to find space with ease. Not many teams could mark this phenom, with the NBA scoring champion averaging 20 points a game and shooting 89% of his free throws. He also chipped in for the defense, shutting out Rudy Fernandez in the Final and accumulating 13 steals in the Olympics that summed up his massive rebounding through the course of the tournament. Had it not been for Durant’s 30 point night, Team USA wouldn’t have rallied to a seven-point win at the Olympic Park versus Spain. Coach K didn’t have to worry about playing a power forward in the line-up as KD’s versatility enabled him to function as both a shooting guard and power forward.
The only player in the entire competition to have made all his free throws, Ginobili’s menace drew 5 fouls a game from the opponents. He scored 19.4 PPG, once again leading the Argentinean contingent, and then topped that off with 1.6 steals a game. Incredible, isn’t it?
For a man of 35, to still function as a primo shooting guard is just remarkable, especially in a tournament that showcased young and quicker talents. His high-tempo, intensity and commitment was second to none as he led Argentina to another semi-final appearance – a feat they haven’t missed since Manu entered the fray with a gold medal haul in 2004.
If Manu hangs up his boots anytime soon, he will undoubtedly go down as the greatest South American to play the game and will remain as one of the two players to have an Olympic Gold Medal, NBA Title and Euro League title – the other being the legendary Bill Bradley.
“The ball in his hands… and Manu Ginobiliiiiiii – is this man human at all?”
Power Forward and Player of the Tournament
By far the least heralded sensation in the NBA, Kirilenko’s Olympic carnage was anything but sympathetic. He breezed through defenses, drew nearly two fouls a quarter and was by far the most impressive player this tournament. His stats illustrate his unworldly potential to light up the NBA with the T-Wolves this coming season; 17.5 PPG, 54 FG %, 7.5 RPG, 1.9 SPG and 1.8 BPG, AK 47 surmounted his credentials as the most explosive small forward in London. AK 47 is one of the few players in today’s game that has the caliber to put a five-five: five rebounds, points, blocks, steals and assists. More importantly, Kirilenko let the world know that Russia is a force to be reckoned with in the coming years.
Pau Gasol (Spain)
Mr. Supposed to be Doctor provided a cushion in the Spanish offense that let Rudy Fernandez and Juan Carlos Navarro expertly toil with the three point zone. His production column was solid, as expected from the Team’s go-to guy and Country’s flag bearer. Overall, he totaled 19.1 PPG, 57 FG % (top 3), 7.6 RPG, 1.1 BPG and 5.4 fouls drawn – the best numbers put up by a big man in the tournament.
Spain was able to keep up with the US’ three pointer dominance through Gasol’s ascendancy in the paint, where the 7 feet tall center made a mockery of Tyson Chandler and Kevin Love. To complement Kirilenko’s athletic prowess and quick steps in my line up, I chose Gasol for his commanding presence near the rim.
Final Team: Mills PG, Durant SF, Ginobili SG, Kirilenko PF and Gasol C.