There were some initial concerns about Team USA's talent level coming into the 2016 Olympic Games after so many superstars declined to participate. So far, it seems like there's nothing to worry about, as they have destroyed all competition in exhibition games. This tournament looks like a wrap.
It's nearly impossible to imagine any other national team preventing the U.S. from getting the gold medal. There are a lot of good non-American players, but no squad comes close to having the depth and elite talent that America boasts.
But what if we combined the best players from the other national teams and pit them against this iteration of Team USA? Could Team Rest of the World at least make things interesting?
Here's a team we built using the best non-American players participating in the Olympics. You tell us if it would give the U.S. trouble.
Point guard: Ricky Rubio (Spain, Timberwolves)
There are a lot of talented point guards that could cause serious damage on offense. In order to contain Kyrie Irving and Kyle Lowry, however, Team Rest of the World needs a good defender manning the position. That's why Rubio, one of the best in the NBA on that end, gets the nod as a starter.
Rubio's poor shooting could be a problem on offense, but he improved in that area last year before a dip in April. His great ball handling and court vision will also help when trying to break down a stingy Team USA pressure defense.
Shooting guard: Manu Ginobili (Argentina, Spurs)
Even at 39 years old, Manu remains a good marksman and playmaker who shot 39 percent from beyond the arc and averaged over five assists per 36 minutes during his most recent NBA season. Any team hoping to hang with the U.S. needs several ball handlers who can create for themselves when things go sour. Manu can still do that.
He's also had tremendous success at the FIBA level, including two victories over Team USA way back in 2002 and 2004. He might not be a star anymore, but his experience and leadership should help keep his teammates focused.
Small forward: Nicolas Batum (France, Hornets)
Team Rest of the World’s small forward would need to be able to contribute in every area. Batum is more than capable of doing that, as his 15 points, six rebounds and six assists in leading the Hornets to the playoffs last season proved. He's also an experienced international competitor who nevertheless brings athleticism on the perimeter.
Despite having the necessary tools, Batum never emerged as a truly elite defender, which could be a problem since he would be tasked with guarding Kevin Durant. The hope is that his length and mobility would be enough to at least make things hard for Team USA's best player.
Power forward: Dario Saric (Croatia, 76ers)
We originally had Portland’s Al-Farouq Aminu (Nigeria) in this spot, but Aminu was a late scratch from the Olympics due to an insurance issue. Therefore, Saric takes his starting place. Youth will be served.
Versatility at the forward spots is a must. Saric is 6'10, can shoot, handle the ball and rebound. He's exactly the type of combo forward who could replicate some of what Carmelo Anthony gives Team USA as a power forward, while also being able to play some small forward if needed.
Center: Pau Gasol (Spain, Spurs)
Gasol is the first option on offense. His ability to score from inside and out could give DeAndre Jordan fits, while his passing could create open looks for his teammates. He's also very experienced at the FIBA level and has come as close as anyone in the past few years to beating Team USA with the Spanish national team.
He doesn't have great mobility on defense, but he could stay in the lane most of the time, where his length allows him to be a good rim protector. If his brother were not hurt he would likely be the starting center, but he's out. Therefore, Pau gets the nod.
Point guards: Patty Mills (Australia, Spurs)
A Spurs point guard gets the back-up role, and it's not Tony Parker. Parker is still a productive player, but his skill set is not necessary on Team Rest of the World. Rubio, Manu and Batum can create, so bench guards need to be able to catch and shoot, as well as be a pest on defense. Neither is Parker’s strength.
Mills, on the other hand, fits the bill in both areas. He's also experienced success at this level, as he led the London Olympics in scoring with Australia at over 21 per game.
Milos Teodosic (Serbia, CSKA Moscow)
Serbian Pete Maravich also edges out Tony Parker for a spot, again because of his skill set. His clutch shooting and ability to go off in a moment's notice are more needed than Parker's steady hand. If Rubio and Manu struggle, Team Rest of the World can unleash Teodosic in the hopes that he fuels a run by himself.
Bojan Bogdanovic (Croatia, Nets)
Either Bogdanovic — Croatia's Bojan or Serbia's Bogdan — would have been a good pick, but the Nets' sniper gets the nod because he's better at playing off the ball. If the spacing gets crammed or the inconsistent Batum is not hitting shots, Bogdanovic can check in and hopefully make some buckets from beyond the arc.
Boris Diaw (France, Jazz)
Diaw is like a fully realized version of Saric. He had a down season last year with the Spurs and is aging, but he's still one of the most versatile players in the world. He can punish smaller defenders in the post, hit outside shots if he's left open and will keep the ball moving. It was tempting to go with FIBA legend Luis Scola at this spot, but his defense is a concern.
Nikola Mirotic (Bulls, Spain)
Mirotic had a down year in the NBA with the Bulls, but his ability to spread the floor with his jumper and ability to attack closeouts makes him a useful bench player for Team Rest of the World. There are a few other traditional big men that may be better or more exciting players, but Mirotic slides in here because of his skill set.
Jonas Valanciunas (Lithuania, Raptors)
Choosing between Valnaciunas and Serbia’s Nikola Jokic was hard, but JV showed flashes of breaking out last postseason, destroying Hassan Whiteside inside before injuring his ankle. If he's playing at that level, he might even replace Pau in the starting lineup.
Just keep him away from DeMarcus Cousins.
Rudy Gobert (Jazz, France)
If Team USA's athleticism gets too overwhelming for Diaw, Valanciunas and Gasol, Gobert is there to check in and protect the rim. There are enough good pick-and-roll ball handlers to make him a threat on offense, too.
Others considered: Tony Parker (France, Spurs), Nikola Jokic (Serbia, Nuggets), Luis Scola (Argentina, Nets), Mario Hezonja (Croatia, Magic), Rudy Fernandez (Spain, Real Madrid), Alex Abrines (Spain, Thunder), Nene (Brazil, Rockets), Andrew Bogut (Australia, Mavericks), Matthew Dellavedova (Australia, Bucks), Juan Carlos Navarro (Spain, FC Barcelona).
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Could Team Rest of the World actually compete with the U.S.? Probably not. Though it has depth and is built to counter some of Team USA's strengths, it would not likely get the win.
But at least it would make the tournament more competitive than it’ll likely be.
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