Basketball has become a global sport with a lot of NBA stars today coming from different countries around the world. Although it has been a pleasure to watch them play in the NBA, watching them play for their respective countries in the international stage ultimately provides a different flavor to the game. Let’s take a look at the 12 biggest NBA stars not playing for Team USA in the 2023 FIBA World Cup.
After a disappointing campaign with the Mavericks, Luka Doncic can let out all his frustrations this summer while playing for Slovenia. After powering Slovenia to a fourth-place finish at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, Doncic will be hoping to make his mark at the 2023 FIBA World Cup this time around. With Slovenia favored to rule Group F, Doncic and crew should be deemed as potential medal contenders.
In recent years, Karl-Anthony Towns has been the face of the Timberwolves. But despite his talent, the versatile big man has yet to suit up for his country since the 2013 FIBA Americas Championship. Fortunately, the wait for Dominican Republic basketball fans will soon be over after Towns floated his intention of wearing the national team colors again this summer.
In the last two major international meets, France took bronze at the 2019 FIBA World Cup and Silver at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. In those tournaments, France also defeated Team USA at least once. All of those were possible thanks to Rudy Gobert anchoring the paint. The three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year will once again be a menace to the opposition this summer.
Greece has been a fixture at the FIBA World Cup, and with Giannis Antetokounmpo at the helm, that isn’t changing anytime soon. With Greece grouped with Team USA in Group C, Giannis and the Greeks will be aiming to replicate the monumental upset they achieved back in 2006. Moreover, after leading the Bucks to an NBA title, Giannis has all the tools to lead the Greeks to a podium finish.
Nikola Jokic has solidified himself as one of the best centers in the NBA after winning back-to-back MVPs. However, Jokic still finds himself searching for a medal at the World Cup, especially after Serbia was upset by Argentina to settle for a disappointing seventh-place finish at the 2019 FIBA World Cup. With Jokic wearing the national team colors again, Serbia should be penciled to be championship contenders once again.
After playing an instrumental role in helping the Kings end their playoff drought, it also seems possible for Domantas Sabonis to end Lithuania’s medal drought at the world stage. Lithuania last won bronze at the 2010 meet. With Sabonis steadily improving his play, Lithuania should be medal contenders this summer.
As of late, Canada hasn’t made any waves at the world stage, registering mediocre performances despite a talented roster. However, with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander leading the Canadians, the Thunder star will be expected to help the team provide a better showing at the 2023 FIBA World Cup. In three games at the Americas qualifiers, Gilgeous-Alexander posted 26.3 points, 4.0 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game.
The Philippines have waited for Jordan Clarkson to play for the national team at the FIBA level. In 2022, fans finally got it after Clarkson represented the Philippines against Lebanon and Saudi Arabia at the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers. In those two games, the Philippines went 1-1 with the former Sixth Man of the Year averaging 25.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 6.5 assists per game. With the Philippines going all out in their home court, having Clarkson will be a huge boost to their Olympic hopes.
After a historic campaign in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics that saw Australia win bronze, the Boomers are now giving Josh Giddey the keys to their future. With his improved all-around play for the Thunder, it’s easy to see why. Nevertheless, Giddey boosts their chances of finally winning a medal at the World Cup.
After a string of frustrating campaigns, Latvia finally made it back to the world stage thanks largely to Kristaps Porzingis, who had a pair of monster games in the qualifiers. In Latvia’s victories, Porzingis averaged 25.5 points and 14 rebounds in two games. However, Latvia will once again lean on the NBA All-Star as they try to survive the first round after landing in a group with Canada, Lebanon and France in a tough Group H.
Montenegro isn’t expected to take home a medal at the 2023 FIBA World Cup. However, with Nikola Vucevic leading the team, Montenegro can pull off some surprises. The two-time All-Star will be testing free agency after the Bulls missed the postseason, and showcasing your wares against the best basketball players in the world is a great way to boost your stock.
Aside from Jordan Clarkson, another Jazz star who will probably play this summer is Lauri Markkanen. Although he is currently fulfilling his military duties in the offseason, the newly crowned Most Improved Player of the Year should be ready to go for Finland at the 2023 FIBA World Cup better than ever.
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