The France Olympic basketball team will be looking to capture their first ever gold medal when they head to London for their first Olympic games since 2000.
This team may not be ranked that highly, but you definitely can't sleep on a team with so much NBA talent.
This squad also has it's fair share of international talent that really rounds out this roster and makes it one of the deepest in the tournament.
Here are my predictions and analysis for how the team from France will fare during the 2012 Summer Olympics.
The official roster for the France National Team according to the FIBA website is:
—Andrew Albicy (PG, 5'10", Paris Levallois, France)
—Nicolas Batum (SF, 6'8", Portland Trail Blazers, U.S.A.)
—Nando De Colo (SG, 6'5", Valencia, Spain)
—Boris Diaw (PF, 6'8", San Antonio Spurs, U.S.A.)
—Antoine Diot (SG, 6'4", Le Mans Sarthe Basket, France)
—Mickael Gelabale (SF, 6'7", Asvel Lyon-Villeurbanne, France)
—Charles Kahudi (F, 6'6", Le Mans, France)
—Ian Mahinmi (C, 6'11", Dallas Mavericks, U.S.A.)
—Joakim Noah (C, 6'11", Chicago Bulls, U.S.A.)
—Tony Parker (PG, 6'2", San Antonio Spurs, U.S.A.)
—Florent Pietrus (PF, 6'8", Valencia Basket Club, Spain)
—Kevin Seraphin (C, 6'9", Washington Wizards, U.S.A.)
—Steed Tchicamboud (SG, 6'4", ES Chalon-Sur-Saône, France)
—Ali Traore (PF, 6'10", Lokomotiv Kouban-Krasnodar, Russia)
—Ronny Turiaf (C, 6'10", Miami Heat, U.S.A.)
This France team has an abundance of NBA talent on the roster, seven players to be exact:
—Tony Parker: Starting point guard who leads the team in points and assists. In reality France will only go as far as Parker takes them.
—Joakim Noah: Starting center who is the only real rebounder in the starting lineup. He is also the only interior defender France has that can really make an impact, so they definitely need him to play incredible to win it all.
—Nicolas Batum: Even though he's only 23 years old, Batum has been playing with the team from France for eight years. He was MVP when France won the U18 European Championship back in 2006 and will be looking to help his team earn gold once again.
—Boris Diaw: At one point Diaw was a double-digit scorer for France, but he is clearly coming to the end of his career. This will most likely be his last chance to earn an Olympic medal so expect him to be playing at his best.
—Kevin Seraphin: Seraphin made his debut with the France national team last year while they were qualifying and averaged just over five points and two rebounds in only 10 minutes per game.
—Ian Mahinmi: Out of the seven NBA players on France, four of them are centers. There just won't be many available minutes for Mahinmi this year unless one of them goes down with an injury.
—Ronny Turiaf: He only played in one game during France's qualifying after breaking his hand during their opening game. Turiaf isn't much of a scorer, but is definitely the team's second best rebounder.
Projected Starters: Tony Parker, Nicolas Batum
Projected Reserves: Nando De Colo, Andrew Albicy
—Tony Parker has been the leader of this team since 2001, even though he has never participated in the Olympics. During the last five tournaments France has been in, Parker has averaged at least 18 points per game. He may have a long playoff run with the Spurs still ahead of him, but you know he will be excited to continue his dominance in his first Olympics.
—Nicolas Batum has been an efficient scorer for the France National team ever since he joined back in 2009. He's averaged double figures in every tournament, his highest total of 13.8 ppg coming in the Olympic qualifiers last year. Besides team U.S.A., Parker and Batum probably make up the best starting backcourt in the entire tournament.
—Nando De Colo played more minutes off the bench for France than any other player during their qualifying. He was also tied for the most points during the tournament for any player on the team who didn't start.
—Andrew Albicy and Steed Tchicamboud will both be used to backup TP. Neither of them got any significant minutes in the qualifying though, as each of them played over 15 minutes in only one game.
By the Numbers:
22.1—Tony Parker's points per game average that earned him the scoring title at the 2011 FIBA Europe Championship
Projected Starters: Mickael Gelabale, Boris Diaw
Projected Reserves: Florent Pietrus, Ali Traore
—Boris Diaw has been a member of the France National team since 2003. His numbers have declined since he first joined the team, but he is still starting for them now 10 years later. Diaw is a power forward who likes to play away from the basket so he stretches the floor for his team.
—Mickael Gelabale is the only starter on the team not currently in the NBA. He has had a short stint with the Seattle Supersonics before, but that was back from 2006-2008. Gelabale played significant minutes for France during their qualifying until he injured his ankle and only played in 26 minutes over the next five games.
—Florent Pietrus is not a scorer and plays only because of his rebounding and defense. He actually had more rebounds than points during the team's 11 game qualifying. Pietrus played 16 minutes per game during the European Championships this year and took only 16 shots the whole tournament combined.
—Ali Traore only played around 11 minutes per game last tournament, but was a very efficient scorer when he was in. He shot 54.4 percent from the field, which was the highest on the team out of the players who took at least 50 shots.
By the Numbers:
63.6—Amazing three-point percentage for Gelabale during the 2011 FIBA Europe Championshp.
Projected Starter: Joakim Noah
Projected Reserves: Kevin Seraphin, Ian Mahinmi
—Joakim Noah has a lot of work ahead of him now that Derrick Rose has torn his ACL and will miss the remainder of the NBA playoffs. As I stated before, he is the only player on the team who has the ability to be a real dominant inside presence. Noah averaged a very respectable nine points and eight rebounds per game during the qualifiers, but France is going to need much more out of him if they want a chance at winning a gold medal.
—Kevin Seraphin first joined the National team last year during the 2011 London Invitational Tournament. The 22 year old averaged a very solid 5.6 points and 2.6 rebounds per game in only 13 minutes. After Noah, Seraphin is probably the team's second best interior defender, so I expect to see both of them on the floor together versus bigger lineups.
—Ian Mahinmi hasn't played significant minutes with France since he was on the U18 team and it appears these Olympics will be more of the same. It is unsure whether he or Ronny Turiaf will be the team's third center, so don't expect to see much of Mahinmi this tournament unless another player on the team suffers an injury.
By the Numbers:
10—Difference between Noah's points and rebounds during the 2011 FIBA European Championship (90 points-80 rebounds).
France dominates in the Preliminary Round and enters the Quarterfinals as a one or two-seed.
Tony Parker continues his dominant play and leads all players in scoring, just like he did at the European Championships to help France qualify for the Olympics.
After dominating their Quarterfinals game, France meets Spain in the Semifinals, the team who last defeated them. Parker and Noah get their redemption and secure that they will be bringing home a medal this year.
Of course they will then meet team U.S.A. in the gold medal game. After a hard fought battle that sees numerous lead changes, France pulls away to earn the narrow victory and their first ever Olympic gold medal.
Tony Parker leads the San Antonio Spurs to the NBA Finals, but falls short in the end. He is physically and emotionally drained from the grueling shortened season and just doesn't perform during the Olympics.
Without Parker's effective ball distribution, France's bigs can't get the ball in scoring opportunities. They turn into a three-point shooting team, but fail to get hot as a team on any given night.
To make things worse, France gets paired up with U.S.A. and Spain in the Preliminary round. They lose four out of the five games and once again embarrass the country of France during the Olympics.
France will finish...
Even though France is ranked 12 in the FIBA World Rankings, I think they will be competing for a medal by the end of the tournament.
Tony Parker is playing out of his mind right now in the NBA, with the toughest competition in the world, so there's no reason to believe his dominant play won't continue during the Olympics. He will most likely score close to 20 points per game, but will probably fall short of winning the scoring title.
Ultimately, France will come in third and take home the bronze medal since there are two teams that they won't be able to overcome.
The first one is team U.S.A. I know France has their fair share of NBA talent, but Tony Parker and Joakim Noah are the only two who would even have a chance of seeing any minutes if they were with the U.S.A. France has never defeated U.S.A. in the Olympics and that streak will continue if they meet up this year.
The other team France would have trouble defeating is Spain. Their last meeting was just a few months ago when Spain defeated the French team 98-85. France just doesn't have the big men to defend Spain's bigs. Besides the two Gasol brothers, Spain now has Serge Ibaka on their squad who may be the most dominant inside presence of them all.
After losing to either Spain or U.S.A. in the Semifinals, France should be the favorite in the bronze medal game, regardless of who they play. They should win this game and take home the first Olympic medal since 2000.
Coach: Vincent Collet
How They Qualified for the Olympics: Made it to the Finals of the 2011 FIBA European Championsip
Best Olympic Finish: Silver (1948, 2000)
FIBA World Rank: 12
Leading Scorer in Qualifying: Tony Parker
Leading Rebounder in Qualifying: Joakim Noah
Most Minutes in Qualifying: Tony Parker
Highlights: Here's highlights from the 2011 Eurobasket Finals between France and Spain that qualified them both for the Olympics.
Other Team Previews: Be Sure to check out some of the other Olympic team previews: