We conducted a 7-day survey among journalists from 32 countries participating in the basketball World Cup. The journalists gave us answers to 12 questions regarding team and individual performances on the tournament. Here are their predictions:
1 Team performance
1.1 Medal winners
Only 5 teams are projected to compete for one of the medals, according to journalists. Despite major problems with star player withdrawals, the USA is still a clear favorite to win it all (53.8% of the first-place votes). Serbia seems to be the only serious contender for the gold with 38.5% of the votes.
The Serbian national team has the best chance to get into the finals with the USA and win a silver medal. Aside from the two, Greece and France appear on our journalists’ list as possible contenders.
Giannis-led Greece has the best chance to claim the 3rd spot in the tournament.
1.2 Best offense/defense
Our experts didn’t have any doubt that the USA will have the best offense in the World Cup. 84.6% of the votes went to Gregg Popovich’s team, and the only serious contender for the best offense is Serbia with 11.5%.
On the other hand, Serbia (30.8%), France (26.9%), and Greece (21.2%) will allow the least points to their opponents.
Serbia will be the tallest team in the tournament with an average height of 2.06 meters (6’9’’), and it will be very hard to score over that much length and size. France’s defense is led by the reigning defensive player of the year in the NBA, Rudy Gobert, and Greece will have a player who finished third in the DPOY voting (Giannis Antetokounmpo).
1.3 Overachievers and underachievers
Led by Al-Farouq Aminu, a new Orlando Magic player, Nigeria’s national team ranks high in our experts' eyes. Nigeria is expected to be the biggest positive surprise of the World Cup, followed by Argentina, Brazil, and Australia.
On the other hand, Spain is projected to be the biggest disappointment in China, along with Russia, France, and Italy.
The mixed votes that France and Australia received are interesting. Maybe Australia’s surprising victory over the USA a few days ago contributed to these mixed results.
2 Player performance
2.1 Scoring, rebounding, and assists leaders
Giannis Antetokounmpo is a clear favorite among the journalists to win the scoring title in China. He’ll face the biggest competition in Bogdan Bogdanovic (SRB), and 3 Americans in Kemba Walker, Donovan Mitchell, and Kyle Kuzma.
The Greek Freak is also expected to grab the most rebounds in the World Cup, topping some dominant rebounders as Rudy Gobert, Nikola Jokic, Marc Gasol, and Miles Turner.
Another player from Greece is projected to be on the top of the list - journalists see Nick Calathes as the best passer in China, slightly over Spain’s Ricky Rubio. Nikola Jokic’s amazing passing ability pushed him to number 4 in assists voting as the only center (and non-guard) in the top 5.
In the history of the basketball World Cup, only once has a player won an MVP honor without leading his team to the semifinals. So it doesn’t surprise us that our journalists chose their MVP from the top 3 countries in rankings voting.
Kemba Walker is leading the race with a comfortable margin over Nikola Jokic, Bogdan Bogdanovic, and Giannis Antetocounmpo.
3 All-Tournament team
In the end, we asked the journalists to choose their starting 5 of the tournament. Similar to the MVP race, the results are not surprising in terms of the countries who will give the best 5 players.
Kemba Walker and Bogdan Bogdanovic will make a guard duo, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jayson Tatum will fill the forward spots, while Nikola Jokic will be a starting center.
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