The Rio Olympics kick off this weekend, with the U.S. men’s basketball team playing their first game on Saturday against China. But there isn’t going to be much drama in the tournament. Even with the slew of world-class American players who will be absent from Rio for various reasons (a group that includes LeBron James, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Anthony Davis, Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, James Harden, LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard), Team USA is still widely expected to walk to a third-straight gold medal.
Which is a shame, because the worldwide crop of basketball talent is as deep as it’s ever been. The problem is that many of the best international players (Latvia’s Kristaps Porzingis and Italy’s Danilo Gallinari) play for countries that don’t have many NBA-caliber players. There’s no team the U.S. will face in the Olympics with the depth to challenge them; Brazil and Argentina are aging groups, Spain will be without Marc Gasol, and France’s roster is top-heavy. None of them can compete with a U.S. squad that, after all the withdrawals, still includes Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Paul George, Carmelo Anthony and DeMarcus Cousins.
But the lack of competitiveness in the Olympics leads to an interesting hypothetical: could a superteam be constructed that could compete with the Americans? If you took 12 of the best non-American players in the world and put them on a team together, what would it look like?
We took a stab at how that roster could come together, and it’s a pretty impressive group.
Goran Dragic (Slovenia)
Ricky Rubio (Spain)
Tony Parker (France)