#Rio2016: Predicting the breakout performance

Domantas Sabonis (LTU)
(Image from FIBA)
*This first appeared on FIBA.com.

Facundo Campazzo of Argentina enjoyed a breakout tournament at the 2012 Olympics while four years before that, Ricky Rubio of Spain excelled while still a teenager.

Which player (s) will stand out on the giant stage of the Rio de Janeiro Games? International basketball experts Jeff Taylor, David Hein, Dimitris Kontos, Enzo Flojo, Julio Chitunda and Paulo Kennedy give their thoughts.

Jeff: Nicolas Laprovittola is set to play big minutes for Argentina. He's a good one. The players I'm most intrigued by are 22-year-old Vaidas Kariniauskas, a late addition to the roster following an injury by Edgaras Ulanovas, and Domas Sabonis. If the 1.97m Kariniauskas, a guard, plays with the same toughness he showed during the preparations, he could easily get big minutes for the team from the Baltics. Sabonis was in last year's EuroBasket squad and didn't play much but now has another year under his belt and could be a big factor for his team.

Dimitris: Nikola Mirotic will be vastly better in Rio than in his maiden major tournament with Spain last year and Nikola Jokic of Serbia will be so good nobody will believe this is the first summer he is playing for the senior national team. But both of these players ply their trade in the NBA, while Dario Saric of Croatia has never played outside Europe before and it will be the first time people in the rest of the world get to see just how good he can be. Nando De Colo falls somewhere in the middle, because those who only saw him play in the NBA a few years back will be surprised to find he is now arguably France's most important player.

Enzo: I'd love to see young guys like Dario Saric, Domantas Sabonis and even Nikola Jokic break out in a big way at this level. Having said that, Team USA’s Draymond Green should have a break-out tournament. He should be extra pumped after losing the 2016 NBA Finals, and, to be honest, he has such an uncommon and sublime skill-set that can potentially make him such a difficult mark for opposing defenders

Julio: Bojan Bogdanovic of Croatia. He was so good at the Turin OQT that I can't see Croatia competing without him. The Rio Olympics will be just the confirmation of how great of a player he is.

David: Draymond Green will do it all for the Americans while Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant will also be fantastic. Pau Gasol will once again be a giant on the international stage along with Tony Parker, Milos Teodosic, Luis Scola, Mindaugas Kuzminskas and Raulzinho Neto.

Paulo: Dario Saric and Nando De Colo are two obvious nominees, as is Paul George, but the two players I'm most looking forward to seeing are China's Zhou Qi and Guo Ailun.

This pair may not be ready to star at the highest level just yet, but sooner or later they will have the world talking - Zhou with his length and versatility, Guo with his Sergio Llull-like physical guard play - and I'm fascinated to see how many glimpses they will show in Rio.




Next Post »
0 Comment