FIBA Basketball World Cup (August 31st-September 15th)
Host country: China
Number of Teams: 32
Odds to Win FIBA Basketball World Cup
USA -225 Serbia +350 Greece +1000 Spain +1600 France +2800 Canada +3300 Australia +4000 Lithuania +5000 Turkey +15000 Germany +15000
The FIBA Basketball World Cup will be held in China from August 31st to September 15th. This tournament will truly be a global display of the NBA’s best talent. A field of 32 teams will compete for a chance at winning the tournament and being crowned the world’s best team. For the first time in an international tournament, Team USA will not have the best player as Giannis Antetokounmpo will be playing for Greece and Nikola Jokic will be playing for Serbia. With the end of the World Cup so close to the beginning of training camp for the NBA season, most US players decided to skip the competition. The US Team suffered many losses when most top players decided not to play and even some late losses in Kyle Kuzma and De’Aaron Fox. Losing all that talent further diminishes their chances of winning the World Cup.
Fox and Kuzma might’ve put them over the top, but now the US is left with questions about their ability to compete at the international level after losing to Australia 98-94 on August 23rd in an international friendly. Patty Mills of the San Antonio Spurs roasted the team for 30 points. The teams the US will be competing against will be teams that have been playing with each other for years and have developed on court muscle memory after running the same plays over and over. The US team has been thrown together over the course of a few weeks in the lead up to the World Cup. The US is definitely still the favorite to win with more across the board athleticism than any other team, but the best chemistry will lie with the more cohesive teams.
Team USA -225
The contenders are the US, Greece, Serbia, Spain, Turkey, France, Australia and Lithuania. The US features a foursome of Boston Celtics in Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Kemba Walker and Marcus Smart. While they may develop some pre season on court chemistry while representing their country another storyline to watch will be the continued development of Donovan Mitchell, Derrick White and Joe Harris. Mitchell may take the next step this season and with less defensive pressure focused on him because of the perimeter improvements to the Jazz the added freedom could unleash a new beast on the league.
Mitchell and Walker will be the team’s best players and main ball handlers. Tatum has the talent to take over games as well and this tournament could be influential as he develops his versatile offensive game. Harris is a great outside shooter than can also beat defenders off the dribble. White gives Team USA head coach, Gregg Popovich a Spur to coach on the US team, a capable point guard that showed his potential against the Nuggets during the playoffs with some great games. The frontline rotation of Brook Lopez, Myles Turner and Mason Plumlee is adequate, but not as strong as the team’s perimeter talent. This team has no superstars and it will be interesting to see if they can put the doubts to rest and still win the World Cup.
Serbia has a team laden with NBA talent and savvy veterans that have great chemistry together. Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets and Bogdan Bogdanovic and Nemanja Bjelica of the Sacramento Kings will feature prominently on the team. Jokic will run some of their offense as their point center and Bogdanovic can also assume some of the ball handling responsibilities, having shown to be a killer capable of ripping a team’s heart out with his deadly shooting. Marko Guduric will make his NBA debut on the Memphis Grizzlies and Boban Marjanovic of the Dallas Mavericks gives the team a deeper pool of talent to play with. Serbia did lose a great player to injury in Milos Teodosic. Teodosic was their floor leader and an elite passer and without him their chances at winning are lessened, but with a tough and experienced team, Serbia could still win the World Cup.
Greece will feature the best player in the tournament, with Giannis Antetokounmpo leading the team to great heights. Giannis is basketball’s most dominant player and after an NBA MVP season he will be looking for more success at the World Cup. After leading the NBA in paint points it seems that no defense can stop Giannis from getting to the rim. Nick Calathes is a capable ball handler and great passer that will help Greece run their offense more smoothly. Georgios Printezis is a helpful forward with a decent post game that will help offset the defensive attention that Giannis will draw. Giannis’ older brother, Thanasis Antetokounmpo gives the team an athletic perimeter defender that can harass opposing guards and make energy plays offensively.
Spain is a deep team with plenty of talent and ability to compete at the highest level. Ricky Rubio of the Phoenix Suns and Marc Gasol of the Toronto Raptors will give them a potent inside outside duo that will rival any other team’s. Brothers, Juancho and Willy Hernangomez will help the team as Juancho will provide the team with shooting and athleticism while Willy will provide an inside presence with good touch around the basket. The team also features teammates on Spain’s two best club teams in Real Madrid and FC Barcelona Lassa. Madrid teammates, Sergio Llull and Rudy Fernandez give the team an added veteran presence. Llull is a dynamic shoot first guard that can get hot on the offensive end and string buckets together. Fernandez is a shooter that can hurt teams from 3 and has proven to be a great clutch player. Barcelona teammates, Pau Ribas and Victor Claver are proven performers that give the team added depth. Ribas can provide shooting and ball handling on offense and Claver is an athletic big that is great around the basket.
Turkey has a decent team, but will likely get knocked out in the Group Stage as they are in the same group as Team USA. Turkey has a strong team with players like Cedi Osman of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Ersan Ilyasova of the Milwaukee Bucks and Furkan Korkmaz of the Philadelphia 76ers. Osman is a versatile forward that can score from all 3 levels. Ilyasova is a stretch 4 that can have scoring outbursts and Korkmaz is mainly a shooter with some ball handling skills. Guards, Scottie Wilbekin and Melih Mahmutoglu are capable lead guards and decent 3 point shooters that will give the team perimeter scoring and a more efficient offense.
France has a great team that is full of NBA talent and has versatility with their lineups. Frank Ntilikina of the New York Knicks, Nicolas Batum of the Charlotte Hornets, Evan Fournier of the Orlando Magic and Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz are some of the team’s most important players. Gobert is a great rim protector that is able to change the game on the defensive end and force opposing offenses to make adjustments because of his presence. Batum is a versatile forward that can score at all 3 levels and is also an impactful defensive player with his length and lateral movement. Fournier is a great perimeter shooter that can get hot from deep. Ntilikina is a developing young point guard with good defensive skills, but still garners questions about his NBA potential. Nando De Colo is on of the best guards that is not currently in the NBA. De Colo lead Cska Moscow to the Euroleague and Russian League Titles this past season and will next play for Fenerbahce in the Turkish League. De Colo is a point guard that is cool under pressure and can hit the perimeter shot as well as make the correct pass. De Colo is really their floor general and will be one of their most influential players in their success.
Australia is a team with NBA talent and chemistry built from years of playing with each other. Aaron Baynes of the Phoenix Suns, Matthew Dellavedova of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Joe Ingles of the Utah Jazz and Patty Mills of the San Antonio Spurs gives the team quality NBA players that are a great collection of floor spacers and hard working players. Andrew Bogut, a player with great size and a decent passer will help the team get easier looks offensively and be effective defensively. Mills and Ingles are great 3 point shooters that are able to get hot and hurt defenses with their sweet stroke. Australia had one of their biggest wins in team history after defeating the US, 98-94 in the lead to the World Cup. With more performances like that, Australia could see an unprecedented run in the tournament.
Lithuania features an NBA frontline with Domantas Sabonis of the Indiana Pacers and Jonas Valanciunas of the Memphis Grizzlies that will give the team two great big men to feed in the post. Sabonis is also a decent passer that can make plays from the mid post and elbow areas on the court. Mantas Kalnietis and Mindaugas Kuzminskas are important guards that will take some of the offensive scoring load off of Sabonis and Valanciunas. Kalnietis can create his own offense and set up his teammates. Kuzminskas is an athletic wing that can make the three ball and swing games with his energy.
The 2019 FIBA World Cup will determine the greatest team in the biggest international tournament until the Olympics in 2020. The World Cup will feature great international talent and show how global basketball has become. 32 teams will compete for the chance to win the World Cup and bring great joy to their countries. The biggest storyline will be seeing how vulnerable this version of Team USA is and if they can overcome their lack of talent to still come out on top. Taking place in multiple cities in China, the host country is ready to put on a great show for all basketball fans.