In the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, the USA was quite simply dominant, unstoppable, however one wants to describe how America annihilated the competition.
In 2016, the USA was..mostly dominant. They again won the gold medal (by 30 in the final round) but there were also 4 matchups in which they won by just 10 points or less (Australia, Serbia, France, and Spain).
My prediction is the USA will win the gold medal again in 2020.
But, I also think the margin of victory will be even closer than 2016. This is because of two teams. One of which I think could be USA’s biggest threat since Spain in 2008. The other didn’t even play in the Olympics last edition.
Serbia was arguably USA’s closest competition in the last 14 years in the Olympics. On August 12, 2016, the United States beat Serbia 94-91, in a game that was a Bogdan Bogdanovic missed 3 from playing in overtime. Not a single player on the USA squad scored more than 15 points, which seems absurd considering how dominant they have been.
A rematch happened in the finals, but this time the American squad realized how effective Serbia was and alertly won by 30 on their way to the gold medal.
But in 2020, Serbia will be reloaded and ready to put up a serious challenge.
In the last 2.5 years, Nikola Jokic has burst onto the scene as a legitimate superstar. But this team has depth too filled with players that have a lot of international experience.
Serbia has Bogdan Bogdanovic (a current top 100 player in the NBA), Nemanja Bjelica (having the best season of his career for Sacramento), Boban Marjanovic (a 7’3 threat who is more effective with international rules), Milos Teodosic (one of the greatest EuroLeague players of all time), and Nemanja Nedovic (a 2013 1st round pick).
And the thing is, since the 2016 Olympics, every single one of these players have gotten better.
Jokic is an NBA superstar, Bogdanovic has become a serious NBA talent, and Nedovic is one of the best players in the EuroLeague right now for example.
The style of play they have will cause the American team problems (and this style has before). They play hard, gritty, and with the evolution of Jokic becoming an effective scorer from all areas of the floor they become even more dangerous
Serbia is going to be very hungry for an Olympic gold medal and will be the biggest threat to USA in 2020.
This is a team that didn’t even make the Olympics in 2016, but this is a low key dangerous team going into 2020.
Canada has 13 current NBA players (the most of any country outside of the United States) and this number is only trending up.
Here is the list of all current Canadian NBA players:
There are also 4 projected 1st round picks for the 2019 draft that are Canadian (including projected top 3 pick RJ Barrett) and a multitude of solid players who are currently playing overseas.
If Canada happened to play the USA, it would be very interesting. This team is depth filled with players who have NBA experience.
More and more young kids in Canada are playing basketball. They might not be the biggest threat in 2020, but I have a good feeling they will be in 2024.