Men's 2012 Olympic Basketball Draw: Analyzing Both Preliminary Groups
Here is some instant analysis on the drawings and how the tournament will eventually play out.
It is important to note that there are still three open spots remaining in the tournament for teams who will be playing in 2012 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament on July 2-8.
So far, two of the three teams who earned a medal at the last Olympics have qualified, U.S.A. and Australia, while the third team, Russia, is still trying to earn one of the final three spots.
Here is how the official drawings went:
1. Qualified 1
5. Qualified 2
2. Great Britain
5. Qualified 3
The tournament will officially begin on July 28 and will conclude with the gold medal game on August 12. The games will be played in two locations, the newly built Basketball Arena and the O2 (will be called North Greenwich Arena during the Olympics).
Will team U.S.A. defend their title and earn back-to-back gold medals once again or will another team like Spain or France or Argentina steal the gold medal away from them?
We'll soon find out.
Teams: U.S.A., France, Argentina, Tunisia, Qualified 1, Qualified 2
Best Finish: Gold (1936, 1948, 1952, 1956, 1960, 1964, 1968, 1976, 1984, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2008)
Key Players: Lebron James, Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant
Team Analysis: This team will be made up of the best players from both the group that we saw during last Olympics and the team that qualified for this year's Olympics during the FIBA World Championship.
No matter who makes up the final roster though, this team will head into every game as the heavy favorites. Anything short of a gold medal will be a disappointment for by far the most talented team in the competition.
Best Finish: Silver (1948, 2000)
Key Players: Tony Parker, Joakim Noah, Nicolas Batum
Team Analysis: France has their fair share of NBA talent, led by former NBA Finals MVP Tony Parker. Parker combines with Nicolas Batum to form possibly the best backcourt in the tournament after team U.S.A.
France's biggest issue is Noah, the only big man on the roster who is actually really talented. This can be a major concern when they go up against teams like U.S.A. or Spain.
Best Finish: Gold (2004)
Key Players: Manu Ginobili, Luis Scola, Carlos Delfino
Team Analysis: Argentina is the only team, other than the U.S.A., to take home a gold medal within the past 24 years when they shocked the Americans during the semifinals of the 2004 Olympics.
All of their key players from that team are still on the roster. This team knows how to defeat the Americans, so expect an epic battle when these teams meet up in the preliminary round.
Best Finish: None
Key Players: Macram Ben Romdhane, Marouan Kechrid
Team Analysis: Tunisia qualified for the team's first ever Olympics by winning the 2011 FIBA Africa Championship.
No player on the roster has ever played in the NBA or any league that comes close to it as 11 of the 12 players on the roster currently play for clubs in Tunisia.
This will certainly be an eye opening experience for the Tunisian team, but one they will most definitely enjoy.
Teams: Spain, Australia, China, Brazil, Great Britain, Qualified 3
Best Finish: Silver (1984, 2008)
Key Players: Pau Gasol, Marc Gasol, Juan Carlos Navarro, José Calderon, Serge Ibaka
Team Analysis: This is another team loaded with NBA talent and probably the biggest threat to defeat team U.S.A. in this tournament. They definitely have the best set of bigs in the tournament with the Gasol brothers as well as the recently added Serge Ibaka.
Their biggest issue versus the Americans will be whether their guards are athletic enough to defend the quicker and more powerful U.S.A. guards for an entire game. If they can, expect Spain to take home their first gold this year.
Best Finish: 4 (1988, 1996, 2000)
Key Players: Andrew Bogut (Injured), Patty Mills, Aleksandar Maric
Team Analysis: The Australian team took a big hit when it was announced that Andrew Bogut would need surgery on his ankle and would miss the upcoming Olympics.
That leaves them with only one player on their roster currently in the NBA, Patty Mills. In the qualifying, Mills took 25 three-pointers in just three games, so expect a lot of outside shooting from this team throughout the tournament.
Best Finish: 8 (1996, 2004, 2008)
Key Players: Yi Jianlian, Wang Zhizhi
Team Analysis: The last time China played in the Olympics without 7'6" Yao Ming was back in 1996. Now the team is led by current Dallas Mavericks forward Yi and former NBA player Zhizhi Wang.
With NBA talent on the roster every year, it's very surprising to see that China has never made it to the medal rounds before.
Best Finish: Bronze (1948, 1960, 1964)
Key Players: Leandro Barbosa, Nene, Anderson Varejao, Tiago Splitter
Team Analysis: Brazil qualified for their first Olympics this year since 1996.
Like Spain, Brazil is another team who has some great NBA talent at their power forward and center position.
However, Leandro Barbosa has been the team's leader and primary scorer since 2005. His career average with Brazil is 15.3 points per game and he will be looking to build on that in his first Olympics appearance.
Best Finish: 20 (1948)
Key Players: Luol Deng, Eric Boateng, Joel Freeland
Team Analysis: Unlike any other team, Great Britain actually has multiple players on their roster who are currently playing in the NCAA and NBDL.
None of them are at power-conference schools, but they still have to be pretty talented to play college ball in the United States. We will see if it will be enough for team leader Luol Deng to work with in the team's first Olympics appearance in over 60 years.
Note: It is very difficult to give a completely accurate prediction since there are still three teams yet to qualify. Here are the three teams I believe will earn the final three open spots:
Qualified 1: Greece
Qualified 2: Russia
Qualified 3: Lithuania
Preliminary Round Predictions
1. U.S.A. (5-0)
2. France (4-1)
3. Argentina (3-2)
4. Greece (2-3)
5. Russia (1-4)
6. Tunisia (0-5)
1. Spain (5-0)
2. Brazil (3-2)
3. Lithuania (3-2)
4. China (3-2)
5. Great Britain (1-4)
6. Australia (0-5)
U.S.A. vs. China
Argentina vs. Brazil
France vs. Lithuania
Greece vs. Spain
U.S.A. vs. Brazil
France vs. Spain
Medal Games Predictions
Gold Medal Game
U.S.A. vs. Spain
Bronze Medal Game
France vs. Brazil
Leading Scorer: Luol Deng
Leading Rebounder: Luis Scola
Leading Assists: Tony Parker