2020 Tokyo Olympics Basketball: 10 Notable NBA players to watch for

Team USA Basketball stars
Team USA Basketball stars

Although the NBA Finals are almost over, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics basketball contest is just around the corner. Twelve teams will be competing in the tournament, with Team USA being the strong favorites after winning the last three gold medals and having a roster stacked with NBA All-Stars.

Despite this, Coach Popovich's side have lost their opening two exhibition games in Las Vegas against Nigeria at the weekend and Australia on Monday night. They still have some chemistry issues to fix but will be expected to have them sorted by the time their opening game of the tournament comes around.

This article will not only focus on the stars in Team USA, but the top ten NBA players to look out for across the 2020 Tokyo Olympics basketball tournament. Some national sides have a range of league stars to choose from, whom they hope will be able to challenge the US national team.

2020 Tokyo Olympics Basketball: 10 NBA stars competing at this summer's tournament

#10 Moritz Wagner

Orlando Magic big man Moritz Wagner
Orlando Magic big man Moritz Wagner

Without Lakers guard Dennis Schroder in qualifying and possibly with him not coming to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, it was down to Orlando Magic center Moritz Wagner to lead the Germans to this summer's Games. Despite a turbulent season in which the 24-year-old played for three different NBA teams, he was dominant in Germany's qualifying campaign.

In the final against Brazil, Wagner scored 28 points, grabbed six boards and three steals. His athleticism will be a nightmare for Germany's opponents in group B (Italy, Australia and Nigeria), whom they will back themselves to beat and progress further in the tournament.


#9 Nicolas Batum

Clippers wing threat Nicolas Batum
Clippers wing threat Nicolas Batum

Nicolas Batum will be hoping to help France top Team USA in their group at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics basketball tournament after several impressive performances in previous Games. Batum had a consistent year too in the NBA with the LA Clippers and was crucial in their postseason run to the conference Finals, averaging 8 points per game, 5.5 rebounds and 1.3 steals.

The French national team will fancy themselves against an undersized Team USA with both Batum and Gobert - whom we will come onto later. Shooting at 39% from three in the playoffs and 48% from the field, the small forward continued to prove he still has a lot to give to a title contender as a knockdown shooter and with his hustle on defense.

Also Checkout: France Men's Olympic Basketball Team Roster and Players


#8 Gabe Vincent

Miami Heat's Gabe Vincent
Miami Heat's Gabe Vincent

Although he averaged 13 minutes per game in his sophomore year in the NBA with the Miami Heat, Gabe Vincent is one of Nigeria's standout players heading into the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

In their thrilling win against Team USA, Vincent scored 21 points and clinched the win with a pair of clutch free throws in the dying seconds of the contest. Nigeria then routed Argentina on Monday night, 94-71, in which the 24-year-old grabbed six points, two rebounds and a steal in 16 minutes on the court.

With their array of NBA talent, D'Tigres will be no pushover at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and could be one of the dark horses of the basketball tournament.

Also Read: Nigeria Men's Olympic Basketball Team 2021


#7 Ricky Rubio

Minnesota Timberwolves veteran Ricky Rubio will lead Spain at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics basketball tourny
Minnesota Timberwolves veteran Ricky Rubio will lead Spain at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics basketball tourny

Spain will come into the 2020 Tokyo Olympics hoping to finish on the podium for the fourth straight international tournament. They picked up silver in the Rio games before winning the 2019 FIBA World Cup.

Only behind Team USA, they are currently ranked second in the world with a wealth of NBA experience on their team, including Timberwolves guard Ricky Rubio.

Despite being frustrated by his move to Minnesota, Rubio had another solid season, averaging 8.6 points, 6.4 assists and 1.4 steals.

Although he was overshadowed at times by the team's young stars Anthony Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns, Rubio will be looking forward to leading this Spain team into the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in a group which they should finish on top.

Also Checkout: Spain Men's Olympic Basketball Team 2021


#6 Joe Ingles

Utah Jazz sharpshooter Joe Ingles
Utah Jazz sharpshooter Joe Ingles

Though he is mostly a bench star for the Utah Jazz, Joe Ingles is one of the leaders of the Australian men's basketball team flush with NBA talent. After reaching the semifinals in Rio in 2016, they are looking to go one better this time and have a tight-knit group of weapons on offense.

Coming off another highly efficient campaign for the Jazz, Ingles will be the one to watch out for Australia's opponents.

In their opening exhibition match against Argentina, in which the Aussies prevailed 87-84, Ingles poured in 16 points, grabbed three boards and two steals. Per 36 minutes in the 2021 NBA campaign, Ingles had his most efficient season on offense, grabbing 12 points per game and shooting at 45% from downtown - the highest of his career.

As one of the most experienced sides at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics outwith Team USA, Australia will feel like they have a good chance of progressing from their group that contains Germany and Nigeria. Ingles' continued accuracy and consistency will be essential to that success.


#5 Damian Lillard

Team USA point guard Damian Lillard
Team USA point guard Damian Lillard

As arguably the only true point guard on Team USA going to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Damian Lillard can expect to have plenty of playing time in Popovich's lineups. The 30-year-old will be hoping to leave all of the trade rumors surrounding his future in Portland behind him when the side travels to Japan at the end of this month.

He is coming off the back of an immense playoff series against the Denver Nuggets in which he averaged 34 points and 10 assists. Nevertheless, his efforts were not enough to carry the Trail Blazers through. With the side's appointment of Chauncy Billups as the new head coach, Lillard's future has been brought into question.


#4 Rudy Gobert

Utah Jazz big man Rudy Gobert
Utah Jazz big man Rudy Gobert

Leading the French team at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics will be another of the Utah Jazz' stars from this season, Rudy Gobert. The NBA's Defensive Player of the Year is his national side's best player and will provide nightmares for opposing big men in the paint due to his elite shot blocking and rim protection.

The French team will be considered medal contenders and will have an early chance to test themselves against Team USA in the group stage of the tournament. In the 2019 FIBA World Cup, France finished with a bronze medal.


#3 Jayson Tatum

Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum
Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum

Another notable name to watch out for at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics basketball tournament is Boston Celtics star Jayson Tatum. Team USA is stacked with talent and it is likely that the 23-year-old will see plenty of time on the court after being one of the few consistent players on the C's this year.

This will be Tatum's first time representing Team USA at the Olympics and in his first exhibition match on Saturday registered 15 points and seven rebounds in the loss to Nigeria. The two-way forward continues to grow as an NBA star and improved his points, assists and rebounds per game again this season while shooting at 46% from the field.

Tatum is the perfect kind of player for a Popovich team. He is a consistent scorer who works hard for his side on defense, grabbing over a steal per game in his four-year NBA career.


#2 Luka Doncic

Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic
Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic

The most exciting non-American NBA player to watch out for in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics basketball tournament is Slovenia's leader Luka Doncic. After another stellar campaign in which the 22-year-old made the All-NBA first team, he carried his country to their first ever Olympics.

In qualifying for the Games, Doncic recorded a 23-13-9 box score in the semi-finals against Venezuela before lighting up the final against European rivals Lithuania with 31 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds.

Should Slovenia progress from their group, which contains Spain, Argentina and Japan, every team ishould be scared of what Doncic can do and his experience of carrying the Mavs in the NBA through playoff games.

He knows what it takes to compete in the brightest spotlight and is unguardable at times. He will be Slovenia's go-to guy on offense and his teammates will do everything they can to make sure he gets open looks on the floor.


#1 Kevin Durant

Milwaukee Bucks v Brooklyn Nets - Game Five
Milwaukee Bucks v Brooklyn Nets - Game Five

Leading the line for Team USA will be Brooklyn Nets sharpshooter Kevin Durant. The two-time NBA champion had an electric postseason campaign, averaging 34 points per game and nine rebounds.

As Team USA hunts for their fourth straight gold medal, Durant will be the side's talisman and will be looked upon to take over down the stretch. The 32-year-old is one of the more experienced players in the squad, having competed in the previous two Olympics for the national team.

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