The Tokyo Olympics are almost here, as 12 countries will compete for the opportunity to take home a gold medal.
Among those 12 countries are some of the most talented basketball players in the world, looking to shine on the Olympic stage.
At the 2016 Olympics in Rio, it was Croatian forward Bojan Bogdanovic who led the tournament with 25.3 points per game, but Croatia did not qualify for the Olympics this time around. The next leading scorer? Australia's Patty Mills, who averaged 21.3 points per game.
At the 2019 FIBA World Cup, the most recent high-level international tournament, Korea's Guna Ra led the way with 23.0 points per game, but Korea failed to qualify for Tokyo as well.
So it begs the question, which player will shine the brightest and lead the 2020 Olympics in scoring? Our NBA.com Staff discusses.
Scott Rafferty ( @crabdribbles ): It's hard for me to go against Kevin Durant .
There's a chance Team USA is too loaded for Durant to lead the Olympics in scoring - he will be sharing the court with the likes of Damian Lillard, Jayson Tatum and Devin Booker after all - but he's the best scorer in the tournament and I'm guessing they're going to need him to be pretty close to his best to win it all.
In which case, good luck to everyone else.
DURANT FOR THE TIE! HE'S GOT 48!- NBA Fantasy (@NBAFantasy) June 20, 2021
OVERTIME IN GAME 7! pic.twitter.com/nbo2Jb4DZw
It helps that Durant has been on the stage two times before. He averaged 19.5 points per game in Team USA's gold medal run in 2012, putting him behind only Patty Mills (21.2) for most in the Olympics. He then averaged 19.4 points per game in 2016, which was the fifth-most in the Olympics .
Essentially, Durant has never led the Olympics in scoring, but he's come pretty close a couple of times. Maybe this is the year he does it.
Kyle Irving ( @KyleIrv_ ): I hear what Scott's saying on KD, but I also feel like Team USA has too many weapons for one of its players to lead the Olympics in scoring. Some nights it could be Durant, others it will be Damian Lillard and others it will be Jayson Tatum.
That's why I'm going with Slovenia's Luka Doncic .
Doncic couldn't have been anything short of incredible in order for his country to qualify for the Olympics in the first place, and as you'd expect, the 22-year-old phenom surpassed expectations to lead Slovenia to this point. Averaging 21.3 points during the FIBA Qualifying Tournament in Lithuania, Doncic was the second-leading scorer behind the aforementioned Korean Guna Ra, who led the 2019 FIBA World Cup in scoring.
🎵 M-V-P, M-V-P, M-V-P! 🎵- FIBA #Tokyo2020 (@FIBA) July 4, 2021
A historic night for @luka7doncic, who helps 🇸🇮 book a ticket to #Tokyo2020 with a triple-double performance! ✈️
📊 31 PTS 11 REB 13 AST | 42 EFF pic.twitter.com/QAXqv8AfwO
If Slovenia is going to advance out of their Group Stage that includes both the 2019 FIBA World Cup finalists in Argentina and Spain, it will be because Doncic put on his cape and pulled off some heroics like we've seen him do on the NBA stage time and time again in only three years in the league.
Carlan Gay ( @TheCarlanGay ) : Luka and KD are great choices, but I'm going off the path here and picking France's Evan Fournier .
France has a legit shot at standing on the podium in Tokyo. They're coming into the tournament with a FIBA world rank of seventh and in the last FIBA power ranking, they're sitting pretty at number six.
Expectations are going to be high on the French. France has two tough games right out of the gate against the United States and my Olympic sleepers, the Czech Republic. If France has any shot in those games, Fournier needs to get buckets.
Fournier averaged 19.8 points per game at the FIBA Basketball World Cup in 2019. I'm guessing that the leading scorer of these games will average around 22.0 points per game, so Fournier will need a slight bump from his World Cup production, but he'll need it if France has any shot of medaling in Tokyo.
Benyam Kidane ( @BenyamKidane ): This is what Patty Mills does
The San Antonio Spurs reserve transforms into a completely different player when he pulls on the green and gold jersey and has been one of the most electric scoring forces in the previous two Olympics. He finished as the tournament's second-leading scorer in Rio 2016 with 21.3 points per game and led the London 2012 Games with 21.2 points per game.
For the same reasons as Slovenia needing Doncic, Australia needs Mills' scoring and as the team's primary option he'll have every opportunity to get buckets in Tokyo, with the likes of Joe Ingles and Matthew Dellavedova tasked with orchestrating the team's offence.
Mills has one job. Get buckets.
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