Olympic Basketball 2012: 5 Top Internationals Who Aren't in the NBA
Despite all the talent in the NBA, there's plenty to look for across the international landscape during the 2012 Summer Olympics.
Whether a player has never been, has previous experience and/or is about to play in the NBA for the 2012-13 season, the following are not currently representing the Association. Spain point guard Juan Carlos Navarro is a prime example, as he played for the Memphis Grizzlies in 2007-08.
Having been out of the NBA since, Navarro has remained a consistently elite player for Spain and is one to watch for during the London Games. In addition to Navarro, though, there is a plethora of talent residing on foreign soil that has yet to infiltrate the NBA ranks.
Let's check out Navarro and the top-five internationals in the 30th Olympiad.
Stats and rosters courtesy of London2012.FIBA.com.
5. Guilherme Giovannoni: Forward, Brazil
Photo courtesy of Getty Images
Possessing a solid shot and reliability in the paint to rebound, Brazil forward Guilherme Giovannoni will go a little overlooked in London because of teammates such as Anderson Varejao and Tiago Splitter.
Still, Giovannoni performed quite well at the FIBA Americas Championships with 11.1 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. He also shot 53.2 percent from the field and averaged almost 28 minutes per contest.
Giovannoni's size bodes well as a small forward, but with his marksmanship, it wouldn't be surprising to see him get some time at shooting guard in London. Defensively, he's aggressive near the glass and can force multiple turnovers on occasion.
4. Juan Carlos Navarro: Guard, Spain
Harry How/Getty Images
It's supremely easy to underrate Juan Carlos Navarro because Spain presents so much NBA talent across the board.
With the Gasol brothers (Marc and Pau), as well as Serge Ibaka and Rudy Fernandez, Navarro's contributions won't appear as noteworthy. On the bright side, a strong performance in London will display inflated numbers and a legit shot to contend for gold.
After playing one season for Memphis, where he averaged 10.9 points and shot 40.2 percent from the field in 82 games played, Navarro proved he could measure up decently well in America. During the FIBA EuroBasket tournament, he accounted for 18.7 points and three assists per game.
Combine that production with what could potentially happen in London, and a strong challenge to Team USA would garner Navarro some well-deserved recognition.
3. Salah Mejri: Center, Tunisia
Photo courtesy of FIBA.com
Salah Mejri is already on the NBA's radar.
According to Matthieu Fédida of StarAfrica.com, Mejri has been participating in the Orlando Summer League.
This comes as no surprise, since Tunisia enters its first Summer Olympics in basketball and Mejri is easily the team's best player. Averaging 8.9 points, nine rebounds and almost 2.5 blocked shots per game during the FIBA Africa Championships, his potential in the paint is worth an NBA opportunity.
Now, he will be under a brighter and more challenging spotlight during the Olympics, as Tunisia is in the same group as Team USA, Argentina and France. But, a respectable performance will, at the very least, earn Mejri that slight increase in exposure needed to open the NBA's eyes.
2. Alexey Shved: Guard, Russia
Photo Credit: Roman Kruchinin, RIA Novosti
Russian guard Alexey Shved has never played in the NBA, but all that will change once late October rolls around.
The Timberwolves on Tuesday continued to add before they inevitably subtract, agreeing to contract terms with Russian guard Alexey Shved in the hours before the NBA's signing period commenced just before midnight, NBA sources said.
Now, technically, Shved is not in the NBA, as the upcoming season doesn't tip off until the end of October. His signing, however, was a good move by Minnesota, as Shved's versatility will pay great dividends. With the ability to play anywhere in the backcourt, Shved put on a great performance during the 2011 FIBA Olympic qualifying tournament.
Russia didn't lose a game, and Shved accounted for 10.5 points and five assists per, as well as shooting 70.6 percent from the line.
1. Ike Diogu: Forward, Nigeria
Photo courtesy of FIBA.com
Nigeria's Ike Diogu is actually American-born, but the former NBA forward is representing his heritage in the Summer Olympics.
Diogu's production of 16.6 points and 10.8 rebounds, while shooting 53.7 percent from the field and 82.6 percent from the charity stripe in the FIBA World Olympic qualifying tournament was pure dominance. The Nigerians went on to capture bronze in the tournament and will appear in their first Summer Olympics for basketball.
And with not much other talent around him, an eye-opening performance may attract the NBA once again. Nigeria is entering with confidence and Diogu is the country's best player.
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