Luka Doncic and the 4 other best non-USA NBA stars at the Tokyo Olympics, ranked
The surprising struggles of Team USA have been front and center in the ongoing men’s basketball tournament at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. However, the competition isn’t only revolving around Gregg Popovich’s squad. There are a number of other players who are also capable of putting on a good show for their countries, including Slovenia superstar Luka Doncic.
After a busy 2020-21 season, many NBA players are now looking to make noise on the international basketball scene and vie for medal finishes for their respective nations. These non-Team USA players are eager to show that they can also compete at a high level against the world’s best national teams.
Here are the five best international NBA players who are aiming to make waves in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, with Luka Doncic leading the way. Plus, we must give a major honorable mention to France’s Evan Fournier after his 28-point performance in the big upset over Team USA.
5. Danilo Gallinari (Italy)
Italy may already have a rising star in Nico Mannion, but Atlanta Hawks veteran Danilo Gallinari is still the best player in their lineup. The 32-year-old forward is no stranger to the international brand of basketball, as he has been wearing the country’s colors since 2005.
In the 2019 FIBA World Cup, Gallinari’s veteran presence provided a major boost for the team, averaging 14.8 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 1.7 assists. Over the years, Italy has never amassed a podium finish in the Olympics, and the veteran has a chance to lead his nation to their first-ever medal in the men’s basketball tournament.
4. Ricky Rubio (Spain)
Like Gallinari, Ricky Rubio has been a mainstay for Spain’s national team, already seeing action in two Summer Olympic Games. He previously backstopped his squad to a silver medal in Beijing back in 2008 and a bronze medal finish in Rio De Janeiro eight years later.
Having played overseas at a very young age before he entered the NBA (he was a phenom just like Luka Doncic), Rubio is extremely familiar with the Xs and Os of international basketball. His experience certainly showed when he led Spain’s attack in the 2019 FIBA World Cup. Rubio notched a team-high 20 points and seven rebounds in a lopsided victory against Argentina in the championship game en route to being named tournament MVP.
Rubio is definitely a player to keep an eye on as he hopes to strike gold alongside the Gasol brothers for the first time in Tokyo this year.
3. Patty Mills (Australia)
Patty Mills may be a solid role player for the San Antonio Spurs, but he surely turns it up a notch higher whenever he suits up for the Australian Boomers in international waters. Though he has been a national team player since 2007, Mills will only be making his first appearance in the Olympic Games this year.
Nonetheless, the 32-year-old showed that he is more than prepared to represent his country this time around as he balled out in their exhibition proceedings before heading to Tokyo. He drained a buzzer-beating triple to overcome Argentina back on July 11 and also finished with 22 points to stun Team USA with a convincing win two days later.
Playing on a solid Boomers squad that also features Joe Ingles (another honorable mention), Mills will certainly set his sights on getting the gold, even if it will come at the expense of overcoming his own NBA coach in the same tournament.
2. Rudy Gobert (France)
A solid contending team that will surely give every team a hard challenge will be Rudy Gobert’s French squad. Though he isn’t as experienced as the aforementioned players on this list, The Stifle Tower is a force to be reckoned with on the international scene, just like he is in the NBA.
Like Mills, Gobert will also be making his debut in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics as the star of France’s national team. In fact, the 7-footer already began the tournament on a high note with 21 points and 16 rebounds to win in their first game against Team USA via an 83-76 victory.
Having a three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year will surely be a luxury for head coach Vincent Collet as he tries to secure a first-place finish for France in this year’s Olympics.
1. Luka Doncic (Slovenia)
Topping this list is none other than Slovenia’s Luka Doncic, who is already an Olympian at the age of 22. Back in 2019, he famously claimed that it was easier to score in the NBA than in Europe, which didn’t bode well to some. Two years later, Doncic proved that he is still the same awesome player regardless of where he plays, as he exploded for 48 points in his Olympic debut for a 118-100 win over Argentina.
To put it simply, Slovenia is definitely not a country that you would regularly see in the men’s basketball tournament during the Olympics. However, the arrival of the NBA star has surely brought some promise to their improving team. They are already looking to deal upset victories against the world’s powerhouse squads moving forward.
With a player of Luka Doncic’s caliber leading the way, Slovenia will certainly turn heads as they aim to vie for a medal in Tokyo this year.