In the years since the very first USA Dream Team stormed the Olympics with NBA Hall of Famers like Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Charles Barkley, and Magic Johnson, the NBA has become even more of an international sport. Most NBA teams have at least one player from somewhere around the globe and many of those players are on their country’s own Olympic teams. In the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, there were over 30 NBA players playing for the various countries in the tournament. There were over 20 players in the final medal games and including the gold medal winners from the United States, the silver medal winners from Serbia, and the bronze medal winners from Spain, there were 18 NBA players who took home Olympic medals for their country at the Rio Olympics. So how do these NBA medalists ran as overall players? Here is the definitive ranking so please read on to find out who is the very best (spoiler alert: Kevin Durant) to who is the worst (another American).
18 Harrison Barnes
After helping the Golden State Warriors blow a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals, Harrison Barnes took his talents to Dallas and signed with the Mavericks after the 2016 season. But before he started his career with the Mavs he played for the US Olympic team in Rio. As an overall player he was the fourth or even fifth weapon on the Golden State Warriors behind Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Andre Iguodala. During the finals he was sometimes even less of a weapon as he missed a lot of big open shots over the course of the series. In the Olympics he was the last man on the USA bench averaging just eight minutes and four points per game.
17 Alex Abrines
Although he was not quite an NBA player during the 2016 Olympics, Alex Abrines has since joined the Oklahoma City Thunder to qualify for this list. Abrines was originally selected with the 32nd pick in the 2013 NBA Draft by the Thunder but remained in Spain where he played professionally for FC Barcelona at the time. In his time playing in Spain he has been a Spanish League champion, a Spanish Cup champion, and was given the Euroleague Rising Star Award. He officially signed with the Thunder over the summer and made his NBA debut in the opening game of the Thunder season. Over 32 games Abrines is averaging 14 minutes per game and scoring 5.7 points per game while shooting 35% from three point land.
16 Draymond Green
Although he might be a better overall player than Harrison Barnes, and he is certainly more valuable to his team than a lot of players, during the Olympics Draymond Green was probably the worst player on Team USA. It may have been the effects of a rough couple of months of controversy, starting of course with the NBA Playoffs where he collected endless technical fouls and eventually managed to get himself suspended for a game for his antics, which was a big reason the Warriors blew a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals. Part of it could be the fact that his unique role with the Golden State Warriors is much more involved and unusual than what he was needed for in the Olympics where he was mostly required for his tough defense and rebounding. Over the course of the Olympics he averaged under two points and over two rebounds in just less than 10 minutes per game.
15 Jose Calderon
With over a decade of playing in the NBA, in addition to almost seven years playing professionally in Europe, Jose Calderon is among the best Spaniards to ever play the game. He has averaged a hair under 10 points and over six assists per game as a point guard for the Toronto Raptors, Detroit Pistons, Dallas Mavericks, and New York Knicks through the years. Internationally, Calderon has played for his country in three Olympic Games winning silver medals in 2008 in Beijing and 2012 in London, and winning a bronze in Rio in 2016. He also has gold and silver medals in the European Championships and FIBA World Championships during his time with the Spanish national team. As the wily veteran he only played sparingly in the 2016 Olympics.
14 Ricky Rubio
One of the most exciting Spanish players to come around, Ricky Rubio started his pro career in Spain at age 14 and made it to the Euroleague at age 16. Despite being drafted by the Timberwolves in 2009 he stayed with his Spanish teams until 2011 before heading to the NBA. Rubio has spent his NBA career with the Minnesota Timberwolves where he is now the veteran point guard whose job it is to distribute to the exciting young gun Wolves, Karl Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, and Zach Levine. Not known for his shooting, the excitement in his game comes in his ability to dish out creative assists. As point guard with the Timberwolves he has averaged over eight assists per game during his career. Rubio has represented Spain in two Olympics winning silver in 2008 and bronze in 2016.
13 DeAndre Jordan
As the third member of the Los Angeles Clippers big three with Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan is the force in the middle who provides defensive beef and blocks, gobbles rebounds, and catches many of the alley-oop lobs that give Lob City its name. Away from his familiar Clippers ecosystem with the Olympic team, Jordan was more of an old school center, patrolling the middle and collecting everyone’s misses. Over his eight years in the NBA, Jordan has average over eight points per game while grabbing almost 10 rebounds and blocking almost two shots per game. During the Olympics Jordan played about 17 minutes per game and scored seven points and grabbed six rebounds per game. He also had nine blocks in the eight games played.
12 Nikola Jokic
Despite a strong tradition of great basketball players there is only one player from the 2016 Serbian Olympic team currently playing in the NBA. That is Nikla Jokic who is a power forward with the Denver Nuggets. He began his professional career in Europe playing in the Adriatic League for a few years as well as in the Serbian League for a time. Jokic was drafted by the Denver Nuggets in the second round of the 2014 NBA draft with the 41st overall pick. He joined the Nuggets as a rookie in 2015 and after a strong season he finished third in the Rookie of the Year voting. In the 2016 Olympics, he averaged nine points and six rebounds for Serbia as they won the silver medal.
11 Nikola Mirotic
The Chicago Bulls had three players win medals in the 2016 Olympics with Jimmy Butler earning a gold medal for Team USA and Nikola Mirotic and Pau Gasol winning bronze medals with Spain. Mirotic spent his first six years playing professionally in the Euroleague with Real Madrid. In 2011 he was selected by the Houston Rockets with the 23rd overall pick in the NBA Draft. He was subsequently traded to the Timberwolves and then the Bulls. In 2014 Mirotic signed a deal with the Bulls to finally come to the NBA. His big body combined with his three point stroke as well as some injuries to the Bulls made Mirotic an important piece of the rotation and he ended his rookie season finishing second in Rookie of the Year voting to Andrew Wiggins. He continued to improve his second year in the league. 2016 was his first time playing in the Olympics for the Spanish team.
10 DeMar DeRozan
Kyle Lowry’s back-court mate in Toronto, DeMar DeRozan was also a member of the 2016 United States Olympic team. Over seven seasons in Toronto, DeRozan has become their go to scorer and along with Lowry has given the Raptors the best point guard shooting guard combo in the NBA. The duo has led the Raptors to three consecutive playoff appearances including a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals against the Cavaliers in 2016. DeRozan has averaged over 20 points per game for the past three seasons and over 18 points per game during his entire career. In the 2016 Olympics DeRozan played 11 minutes per game, missing one game and scored over six points per game.
9 Jimmy Butler
The Chicago Bulls two way terror has slowly joined the elite of NBA stars over the past few seasons. Originally known as a defensive stopper, he slowly became more and more of an offensive weapon as the Bulls main offensive threats faltered or were injured over the years. After averaging 13 points per game in 2013 he has now scored over 20 per game in the past two seasons as well as grabbing five rebounds per game as the top dog on the Bulls. When the Olympics came around, Butler was an easy choice for his defense alone. During the tournament he averaged over five points and two rebounds while playing about 15 minutes per game.
8 Kyle Lowry
The Toronto Raptors star point guard was named to his first national team in 2016 for the Rio Olympics, joining his teammate DeMar DeRozan. After over a decade in the NBA, Kyle Lowry’s recent work leading the Raptors to the playoffs as one of the top three teams in the Eastern Conference over the past few years provided an opportunity for him to be considered for the national team. Despite not being one of the obvious choices for the team initially, Lowry performed well, providing aggressive defense and leadership off the bench for the squad. He only averaged five points per game but he added over three rebounds and three assists per game as well. Coach K and Jim Boeheim both praised him for being an “unsung hero” and great teammate for USA.
7 Pau Gasol
As a two time NBA Champion with the Los Angeles Lakers, among countless other career highlights and milestones, Pau Gasol is probably the best Spanish basketball player ever. Over 16 seasons in the NBA with the Memphis Grizzlies, LA Lakers, and Chicago Bulls the elder Gasol brother has averaged almost 20 points per game while missing out on a career double-double in grabbing just under 10 rebounds per game. He has also recorded over three assists and just under two blocks per game. Internationally Gasol has played in three Olympics for Spain, winning two silver medals and a bronze medal. He has also collected three more golds, two more silvers and another bronze in the Euroleague championships over the years. He is also a two time FIBA player of the year, a two time Spanish League Champion, a six time NBA All-Star, the 2002 NBA Rookie of the Year, and possibly a future NBA Hall of Famer.
6 Carmelo Anthony
As the elder statesman on the United States Olympic basketball team Carmelo Anthony provided great leadership and guidance, while enjoying the heck out of himself for the team during their Olympic run. Anthony is the only player who has appeared on four straight Olympic teams for the United States. He has three gold medals, which is the most of any USA Basketball player as well as one bronze. Anthony is also the all time leading scorer and rebounder for Team USA in the Olympics. During this year's tournament Anthony averaged 12 points, five rebounds, and two assists per game while shooting 40% from three. He shared USA Male Basketball Player of the Year honors with Kevin Durant giving him the honor twice in his Olympic career.
5 Klay Thompson
Known for his deadeye shooting and ability to suddenly erupt for loads of points within a matter of minutes, Klay Thompson has been an up and coming star in the NBA for a few years. His performance over the past few seasons for the Warriors has shown him to be among the best players in the NBA. He has averaged over 20 points per game while shooting over 42% from three point distance. He is easily one of the top five long range shooters in the NBA and that has been a huge part of helping the Warriors to two straight NBA Finals appearances. Klay was an easy choice for the Olympic team and proved his value knocking down triples and getting scorching hot on a couple occasions throughout the Olympics.
4 Paul George
In a scrimmage during the 2014 Team USA training camp, Paul George suffered a compound fracture of both bones in his right leg. The horrifying injury ruined his chance to make that year’s national team for the World Cup and also looked like it would lead to him missing the entire 2014-2015 season with the Indiana Pacers. Unbelievably George recovered and rehabbed over the next few months and managed to return to the Pacers for the last few games of the season. When the 2016 Olympics came around many people were unsure if he would give the national team another chance after such a tough turn of events in his previous attempt. George decided to try again though and his effort paid off. During the tournament he was Team USA’s fourth leading scorer with 11 points per game.
3 DeMarcus Cousins
Despite his occasional volatility with the Sacramento Kings, DeMarcus Cousins is still one of the best players in the NBA. Sometimes it is overshadowed by the chaos and dysfunction in Sacramento but when he does have the opportunity to work in a well run, organized system like USA Basketball, Cousins can really show how great he can be. He also appears to have a heck of a lot more fun away from the drama in Sacramento which is a lot more enjoyable for fans to see as well. During the Olympic tournament Cousins lent his toughness and competitiveness to the effort while scoring nine points and grabbing almost six rebounds in 19 minutes per game. This was Cousins’ second gold medal having won one with the 2014 national team at the FIBA World Cup.
2 Kyrie Irving
As a reigning NBA champ, Kyrie Irving was the only Cleveland Cavalier who chose to play for team USA in the Olympics this year as LeBron decided to take a much deserved rest. This also made Irving one of only four players to win both an NBA Championship and an Olympic gold medal in the same year, joining his teammate Lebron James and of course Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. Kyrie has had a very good career with USA basketball so far, also being named tournament MVP in the 2014 FIBA World Cup. In the NBA Irving has ascended to the elite echelon of players and if he is not quite one of the 10 best players in the NBA right now, he soon will be.
1 Kevin Durant
The best player in the 2016 Olympic is also one of the three best players in the NBA (and therefore the world) right now. After almost taking the Oklahoma City Thunder to the NBA Finals (which he would have won this year if he had stayed), Kevin Durant helped lead the Team USA through the tournament to the gold medal. It was a crazy offseason for Durant as in addition to the Olympics, he decided to ditch the Thunder to join a potential super team in Golden State. Although the move probably deprived basketball fans of what could have developed into one of the best long-term rivalries in NBA history between Golden State and Oklahoma City, Durant’s choice to stick with team USA gave us a chance to see him bring another gold medal to his country.
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