Despite their disappointing showing at the 2019 World Cup in China, USA Basketball has retained the No. 1 seed in FIBA’s international rankings, writes Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. World Cup champion Spain is at No. 2, followed by Australia, Argentina, and France.
FIBA’s rankings account for results from the last eight years, so the fact that Team USA won the 2014 World Cup and took home gold medals at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics keeps the program at the top of that list for now.
Meanwhile, FIBA also announced this week that the 24-team field is set for next summer’s Olympic qualifying tournaments. Eight of the 12 spots in the 2020 Olympics have already been claimed, but 24 countries will have a chance to compete for the final four spots. Brazil, Canada, Germany, Greece, Lithuania, Serbia, and Slovenia – all of whom should have NBA players on their rosters – are among the teams competing in those qualifiers.
Interestingly though, those Olympic qualifying tournaments are scheduled to take place between June 23-28, 2020, so it’s not clear whether members of next year’s free agent class will be willing to participate — suffering a major injury in those games would impact their earning potential a week later.
Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:
- Ethan Strauss of The Athletic polled a dozen executives around the NBA about the 2019/20 outlook for the Warriors, Lakers, Clippers, and Rockets. The consensus? Those execs unanimously agreed that Golden State will make the playoffs, and believe that the Clippers are a better team than the Lakers. They’re also not convinced that the Rockets will be much better after swapping Chris Paul for Russell Westbrook.
- The NBA announced this week that the annual NBA G League Winter Showcase will have a new tournament format this year. The event, which will take place in Las Vegas from December 19-22, will feature a $100K prize for the winning team. That prize will have to be split among all the team’s players, but it still represents a nice bonus, considering the NBAGL’s standard salary is $35K.
- In an interesting piece for The Athletic, Danny Leroux explains how an over-the-cap, below-the-tax team that re-signs a player using Bird rights can essentially turn that player into a “walking trade exception” by overpaying him to some extent. Leroux points to Darius Miller of the Pelicans as one example. Miller probably wasn’t getting a $7.25MM salary from any team besides New Orleans, but that contract could be a useful salary-matching piece for David Griffin during the season, whereas a minimum deal wouldn’t have been.