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Unless we’re talking about the 2004 or 1972 Olympics, the USA has historically been dominant on an international stage. Just watch the ‘Redeem Team’ on Netflix to see how the disappointment in 2004 has led to a resurgence for the US men. In spite of recent success, Spain, as of this week has surpassed the US in the international hoops rankings taking over as number 1.
Now, that may seem a bit ridiculous in spite of Spain still having a wealth of NBA talent, but one could argue that the US should remain the top dog with all of the talent on the US roster, but the NBA is laden with international talent as the world is catching up. Look no further than back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic or the back-to-back MVP before that Giannis Antetokounmpo.
In honor of the World Cup, let’s look beyond the NBA this week and dive into 3 up and coming international squads that may one day look to knock off the US super teams of yesteryear.
Just take a look at this potential roster:
G: Jamal Murray
G: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
F: Andrew Wiggins
F: RJ Barrett
C: Chris Boucher
Sixth Man: Bennedict Mathurin
I mean, just loaded with young and talented NBA players. Murray is an all-star-level talent. We all know how I feel about SGA, and if you don’t know how good he’s playing right now, he’s accomplishing something that hasn’t been done since Wilt.
Wiggins is coming off a career-best season and a title, RJ is off to a slow start but is a tremendous 4th option, and Boucher is a versatile big who can defend and occasionally know down a three. Oh and Mathurin is a 3-level scorer off the bench.
No one will have the depth of the US but the top-tier talent is there for team Canada to make a name for itself on an international stage.
What the French may lack in depth, they make up for with top-tier talent. Led by Rudy Gobert the French men’s basketball team is packed with NBA talent like Frank Ntilikina, Theo Maledon, Evan Fournier, and Ousmane Dieng. That’s not what makes them dangerous going forward.
Enter Victor Wembayana, the once-in-a-lifetime prospect who will be taking the NBA by storm in 2023. Pairing 7’4 Wemby and his ridiculously talented offensive game with 7-1 Gobert locking it down in the paint may be the formula to win internationally. Who can score on those two and who can guard Wemby? One thing is for sure, it’ll be fun to watch.
Now, I know that international basketball isn’t all about high-quality, individual talent. Just look at Spain, Australia, or Argentina, their programs are built on continuity and knowing the international game rather than relying on the most talented players in the world. Now, what if you take a team that’s grown together, won together, and continues improving, then drop in one of the best young players in the league? You get Slovenia.
The Slovenians have been on the rise behind Goran Dragic and NBA Superstar Luka Doncic. Winning Eurobasket in 2017 behind a monstrous performance from Dragic, without Doncic, and following that up by making it all the way to the semi-finals of the 2020 Olympics only to lose to France by 1 point.
Dragic is aging, but Luka is only getting better and this group could continue to make noise internationally for years to come.
Week 5 Pick Recaps
Picks – Season (11-3)
Thunder – W
Jazz – W
Warriors – W
Survivor – Season (7-3)
Clippers – W
Grizzlies – W
Survivor Traps (4-6)
Spurs – L
Hornets – L
Sure, the Warriors didn’t beat the spread, but those aren’t out when I write these, we are approaching on-fire territory for game picks, and I might just toss up a heat check from half-court for week 6.
Week 6 Pool Picks
Kings @ Grizzlies 11/22 – LIGHT THAT MF BEAMMMM! I don’t know if they light it for road wins or not, but we’ll find out Tuesday, Kings shock the Grizzlies in Memphis and continue their shocking hot streak.
Hornets vs Sixers 11/23 – No Embiid, give me the Hornets.
Thunder vs Bulls – Two teams with similar records and completely different vibes. Trouble abounds in Chicagoland and the Thunder have been a fun surprise to start the year. I’m riding with SGA until the wheels fall off.
Hawks over Kings 11/23 – The beam is cut off by a Trae Young dagger three, and the Kings cool down on the second night of a back-to-back.
Lakers over Spurs 11/25 – The Lakers are quietly figuring it out behind a resurgent Anthony Davis and just beat a hapless-looking Spurs team at home, locking in the road W for the purple and gold.
Celtics vs Kings 11/25 – On paper this is a cakewalk, but as previously mentioned the 9-6 Kings are on a tear, winning 8 of their last 10 and both teams will be rested after Thanksgiving off. Stay away or you might get beamed up.
Suns vs Jazz 11/26 – Lauri is him. My guy hit a spinning turn-around fadeaway jumper to knock off the Suns just last week. Bet against the Jazz at your own peril.