Some of the best players in London have already showcased what they’re capable of through the first day of pool play, but how many are constant dangers to opposing teams?
The United States, Argentina, Nigeria, Russia, Spain and Brazil all earned victories on Sunday and nearly all had contributions from their star players. Although many notable players play in the National Basketball Association, there are others out there who will turn heads throughout the 2012 Games.
What makes a player not only an impact player, but dangerous as well, is their ability to turn a game around in the blink of an eye. This could come in the form of a scoring spree or lockdown defense for a substantial period of time.
Of the 12 teams playing for the men’s basketball gold medal, here are five players who are the most dangerous.
Please use the comments section for additional players who could be considered dangerous and please, not just every player on Team USA.
Serge Ibaka and Pau Gasol are both great players on Spain’s basketball team, but Marc Gasol is the most dangerous out of the trio.
Although Marc didn’t make much of a difference in Spain’s 97-81 victory over China, he will need to going forward if they plan on making it to the medal games. In 21 minutes in the China matchup, he only scored five points and grabbed two rebounds, but did have five assists.
Gasol should’ve been more of the force that we’ve seen him become with the Memphis Grizzlies. Last year in Memphis, Marc averaged 14.6 points and 8.9 rebounds per game.
Those types of numbers are what we should expect to see from Marc through the remainder of the Olympic Games. If he can add better passing into his game, he has the opportunity to get Spain to the gold medal game.
The only way that France makes it to the medal games is if Tony Parker can get them there. He is surrounded by plenty of other talented players, but if he doesn’t play well, they won’t go anywhere.
Parker and France had the task of trying to take down the United States on Sunday, but lost 98-71. Parker had 10 points on four of nine shooting and really played poorly. He logged 25 minutes while committing four turnovers three fouls.
Parker has been playing with goggles since his night club incident where he nearly lost his eye, which could be altering his play. Parker said that he was completely out of shape after recovering from eye surgery, according to Spurs Nation.
We all have seen the player that Parker can be if he’s healthy and on his game. If he were ready to go against Team USA, he easily could’ve changed the result of the matchup. Should Parker feel better as the London Games go on, he also change the results of the remainder of France’s schedule.
Luis Scola is one of the leaders of the Argentina basketball team, along with Manu Ginobili and Carlos Delfino. In Argentina’s opening game against Lithuania, Scola was the key factor in the 102-79 victory.
In 32 minutes on the floor, Scola scored 32 points on 12 of 19 shooting. He didn’t play that big of a factor on the boards, but he did claim a lot of attention as he drew nine fouls.
Last season with the Houston Rockets, Scola played at an All-Star caliber level, but couldn’t squeeze his team into the playoffs.
Scola is Argentina’s most important factor in getting to the medal games and they know that if they get behind, he’s capable of bringing them back. Scola can get opposing players in foul trouble while racking up the buckets on the other side of the court.
Yi Jianlian has not lived up to the high expectations in the NBA since coming over from China. He is still, however, a very good international basketball player who’s a difference maker for his national team.
Yi has yet to make a major impact as a NBA player, most recently playing off the bench for the Dallas Mavericks, but he seems to have the skills necessary to do so. In China’s 97-81 loss to Spain, Yi scored 30 points while shooting 65 percent from the field, and he also grabbed 12 rebounds.
It’s especially interesting to see that type of production from Yi since he was going up against Pau and Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka. China wouldn’t be able to face Team USA until the medal round, but that would be a solid test for him.
Yi needs to stay composed and continue being a leader for his Chinese teammates if they’re going to make a run in these London Games. Losing to Spain isn’t a great start, but Yi will be the biggest factor going forward for China. As we saw in that game, he can go off on quite the scoring spree if he wants to.
Many of you may beg to differ that there are many other players on Team USA who are more dangerous that Kevin Durant, but I disagree.
Team USA is an action-packed roster filled with the top talent in the NBA, including Durant who has been an MVP candidate for the last few years.
Durant is the most dangerous because he succeeds in every aspect of the game no matter what the score. Whether the United States is up by 20 points or down by 20 points—which has yet to happen—Durant continues to play hard.
Durant led all scorers with 22 points in Team USA’s big win over France while adding nine rebounds. He shot decently from the field and pretty well from three, but is a constant force from the free throw line. His length sets him apart from other players.
Team USA is definitely a favorite to reach and possibly win the medal games, and Durant is a big reason why this could become a reality.