The league has collected some elite talent for its first-ever NBA Africa Game on Saturday.
Both Team Africa and Team World boast a handful of stars young and old, but the latter enters the game with what looks like, on paper, to be the better overall team. Here’s a look at the full roster:
NBA Africa Game 2015: Team World Roster
Chris Paul (Los Angeles Clippers; U.S.)
Bradley Beal (Washington Wizards; U.S.)
Kenneth Faried (Denver Nuggets; U.S.)
Marc Gasol (Memphis Grizzlies; Spain)
Pau Gasol (Chicago Bulls; Spain)
Jeff Green (Memphis Grizzlies; U.S.)
Marcus Smart (Boston Celtics; U.S.)
Evan Turner (Boston Celtics; U.S.)
Nikola Vucevic (Orlando Magic; Montenegro)
Head coach Lionel Hollins (Brooklyn Nets; U.S.)
Assistant coach Brad Stevens (Boston Celtics; U.S.)
General manager R.C. Buford (San Antonio Spurs; U.S.)
Team World Breakdown
Headlining this squad, of course, are Chris Paul and the Gasol Brothers, who have combined for 15 All-Star game appearances and will likely give Team Africa all kinds of matchup problems.
The most glaring problem defensively for the home team is that it doesn’t have a true point guard on the roster, meaning head coach Gregg Popovich will most likely have to use someone like Giannis Antetokounmpo or Nicolas Batum on Paul. Their length may bother him a little bit, but neither boasts the kind of lateral quickness to stay in front of the blindingly-quick Clipper. Moreover, the Paul-to-Pau pick-and-roll should be unstoppable, as long as the latter keeps his hands off the former’s head.
As Team Africa collapses to either help on Paul’s drives or help down on guys like Marc Gasol and Nikola Vucevic, who can both score out of the post, shots are going to open up on the outside for Bradley Beal. The other half of the Washington Wizards’ elite young backcourt shot 40.9 percent from long range last season, and he can catch fire if he gets into a groove.
It’s not all offense for Team World, either. In addition to Marc Gasol, the 2013 NBA Defensive Player of the Year, Kenneth Faried brings a ton of energy on both sides of the ball, while point guard Marcus Smart is a steal machine (1.5 per game as a rookie) who should cause fits due to Team Africa’s lack of ball-handlers.
Really, this team has it all. Point-guard play, check. Frontcourt scoring options, check. Guys who can shoot, check. Bigs who can defend the rim, check. A slight lack of athleticism may be a bit of a concern, but that doesn’t stop Team World from entering this inaugural exhibition as the definite favorite.
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