The 2023 men’s FIBA World Cup is loaded with NBA talent all over the field. The United States is seeking redemption after a disastrous seventh place finish in this tournament in 2019, and a young roster impressed in group play by finishing undefeated.
Team USA is a championship threat, but are they the favorite? That’s what we’re trying to figure out as the tournament moves into the second round of group play that reduces the field from 32 teams to 16 teams.
The second round of group play will trim the field from 16 to eight teams. Each team will play the two teams in their group they didn’t face in the opening round. The top two teams from each second round group will advance to the quarterfinals in a single-elimination tournament. Follow every result from the 2023 men’s World Cup with our live tracker.
Let’s rank the teams still standing in the World Cup by their chances of winning it all.
A blowout loss to Spain didn’t keep Brazil from advancing in Group G after routing Iran and Ivory Coast. Former Raptors first rounder Bruno Caboclo is the biggest name here as a 6’9 forward who can force his way to the foul line and control the glass. The real star is Yago dos Santos, a tiny 5’10 point guard who has been on fire as a pull-up three-point shooter and lead creator. Yago’s 24-point, 12-assist effort against Ivory Coast punched Brazil’s ticket to the second round.
Thomas Walkup first gained notoriety as Stephen F. Austin’s March Madness hero back in 2016. Now he’s Greece’s physical and emotional leader as a tough point guard who hounds ball handlers and can make a shot inside the arc. Former Kings lottery pick Georgios Papagiannis has been brilliant as an interior scorer with soft touch, while teammates Giannoulis Larentzakis and Ioannis Papapetrou have added wing scoring. Making the second round without Giannis Antetokounmpo in the lineup is a real accomplishment.
Georgia’s first trip to the FIBA World Cup is already a success after advancing to the second round. Georgia has a super physical team that grinds opponents down by pounding the ball inside, making their free throws, and controlling the pace. Former Pacers first round pick Goga Bitadze is the biggest name here as a skilled interior scorer. Tornike Shengelia, a Nets’ second rounder in 2012, and Sandro Mamukelashvili, currently with the Spurs, add more size, toughness, and scoring punch. Georgia’s ceiling feels a bit limited without great guard play, but they won’t make it easy on whoever tries to knock them out.
13. Puerto Rico
Tremont Waters, the former Boston Celtics’ second round pick, makes Puerto Rico a thrilling watch. The 5’10 point guard is an audacious playmaker with deep shooting range who has kept the offense moving and pushed his team into the second round. Former Iowa State big man George Conditt has added some paint protection and interior finishing, while former Oregon State guard Stephen Thompson Jr. filled it up from the outside, making 9-fo-17 threes. The offensive firepower here is no joke.
Italy had a favorable path to the second round with wins over Angola and the Philippines in their opening group. The Italians have an NBA wing in Simone Fontecchio, and he’s been making plays going to the basket but struggling to shoot from the outside so far. Stefano Tonut and Giampaolo Ricci are solid complementary scorers, but the lack of size is evident. It feels like Italy has a hard ceiling on this group.
Nikola Vucevic did it all for Montenegro in group play, scoring on soft jump hooks inside, hammering his way to the foul line, and even going 3-for-3 from three-point range in their opening win over Mexico. There isn’t a ton of talent around Vuc, but naturalized point guard Kendrick Perry helps give this team some sorely needed shot creation. Montenegro saw the limits of its team when it got pounded by Lithuania to end group play.
Latvia doesn’t have injured big man Kristaps Porzingis on the floor, but it still pulled off the most inspiring win of group play without him. Latvia’s stunning comeback win over France eliminated Rudy Gobert, Nic Batum, and co. from the tournament. While Latvia’s next game — getting routed by Canada — served as a sobering reminder of its talent deficit without Porzingis, this team still has enough shooting to put a scare into anyone if they get hot.
This feels like one of the most complete Lithuanian teams in recent memory even without Domantas Sabonis in the lineup. Everything revolves around big man Jonas Valančiūnas, an incredibly powerful inside scorer and rebounder who can also step back behind the three-point line when he needs to. Rokas Jokubaitis — a 22-year-old, 6’4 point guard drafted by the Knicks a couple years back — has given Lithuania a creative ball handler to run the offense and stress defenses with his scoring. Former Michigan standout Ignas Brazdeikis is a straight gunner on the wing who can attack on the basket on straight line drives. Tomas Dimsa has been one of the highest volume three-point shooters in the field so far. The improved perimeter creation of this group gives them a real chance to go on a run.
8. Dominican Republic
Karl-Anthony Towns looked completely unstoppable for Dominican Republic in the group stage. The Minnesota Timberwolves star’s ability to rip three-pointers is a devastating weapon for a center in FIBA play, and it’s hard to find teams with a good matchup for him moving forward. Towns has a solid supporting cast around him. Jean Montero is a 20-year-old point guard who can use his speed to put pressure on opposing defenses to set up open looks for teammates. Warriors wing Lester Quiñones has been cold so far from deep, but gives DR a high-volume floor spacer from three. Angel Delgado and LJ Figueroa are big forwards who can control the glass and offer some scoring punch. Everything revolves around Towns, and so far that’s been a wonderful plan for this team.
Serbia doesn’t have Nikola Jokic in this tournament, but they remain formidable even without the best player in the world. Atlanta Hawks swingman Bogdan Bogdanović is one of the top pure scorers in this field as a 6’6 wing who can fill it up from all over the floor. Nikola Jovic, the 6’10 forward for the Miami Heat, has an easy shooting stroke from three-point range, and the fresh legs to get up and down the court as a 20-year-old. Filip Petrusev, the former Gonzaga standout, is a skilled interior scorer in the paint. Add in crafty guard Aleksa Avramović and 7-footer Nikola Milutinov, and Serbia has the talent to compete with anyone even without the two-time MVP. Serbia’s mix of offensive firepower and team cohesion is tough to bet against.
The Aussies are loaded with NBA talent on the perimeter, but will have to overcome a lack of size inside to go on a real run in this tournament. Patty Mills is an all-time great international scorer, and he’s been fantastic in this World Cup once again, dropping 25 points on Finland and 21 points on Germany in group play. Josh Giddey is future face of the program, and he’s already a stud at age-20, packing box scores as a scorer, playmaker, and rebounder. Josh Green has been on fire from deep as a shooter, and Dante Exum is a trusted floor general who needs to figure out a way to score inside the arc in this tournament. Teams with star bigs will give the Aussies trouble, but only the U.S. and Canada have more offensive firepower.
Dennis Schroder now up to 30 points today, 10/19 from the field
Really impressive change of pace + finish here in the clutch pic.twitter.com/hIFgwj5hD0
— Esfandiar Baraheni (@JustEsBaraheni) August 27, 2023
Germany checks nearly box for a potential champion. It has a speedy lead guard in Dennis Schroder who can blend scoring and playmaking on offense and hound opposing ball handlers on the defensive end. It has a huge scoring wing in Franz Wagner who can create looks for himself and his teammates off the dribble, or space the floor as a spot-up shooter. It has two skilled big men in Daniel Theis and Moritz Wagner, with Theis holding the down the defense in the middle, and the older Wagner brother playing as a stretch big man. It has also Isaac Bonga, a long and athletic 6’9 forward who struggles to shoot, but can impact the game by defending, hitting the glass, and pushing the ball in transition. Germany’s victory against Australia without Franz Wagner proved how powerful this team can be. If Franz can come back 100 percent healthy, the Germans have what it takes to go on a deep run in this tournament.
No team takes on the personality of its star player quite like Slovenia. Luka Doncic is the World Cup’s premier force of nature, a one-man offensive wrecking crew capable of making magic happen every time he touches the ball. We’ve seen Doncic carry Slovenia to greatness before, back in 2017 when he willed his country to a gold medal in Eurobasket as an 18-year-old. This version of Luka is at the height of his powers, completely unstopped as a scorer and playmaker, but he doesn’t have Goran Dragic as his running mate anymore. Instead, Slovenia’s second and third best players are … former Virginia Cavaliers center Mike Tobey, and Dragic’s younger brother Zoran Dragić. Slovenia wouldn’t have a prayer in this tournament without Luka, but in basketball more than any other sport, having the best player can take a team pretty damn far. Doncic has no equal in this World Cup, and because of that, Slovenia has a puncher’s chance.
I like the scoring assertiveness Juan Nunez displayed today, the 19yo passing wizard ended his game with 13 points and 7 dimes on 4/6 FG. pic.twitter.com/6fsWFoOVtN
— Francesco Semprucci (@fra_sempru) August 28, 2023
There are some familiar faces missing from the Spanish lineup with the Gasol brothers retired from national team play and Ricky Rubio stepping away to focus on his mental health, but Spain remains the most cohesive team in the field. Willy Hernangomez has become the team’s new star as a crafty interior scorer and strong rebounder who can control the paint on both ends. His brother Juancho, aka Bo Cruz, can step out to the perimeter offensively at 6’9 and also help out on the glass. Long-time stalwarts Sergio Llull, Alex Abrines, and Rudy Fernandez can shoot from deep and get a bucket in a pinch, while 19-year-old point guard Juan Nunez — a potential first round NBA draft pick in 2024 — has injected some creativity on the ball missing without Rubio. It’s jarring to think the only active NBA player in the lineup here is Grizzlies forward Santi Aldama, but Spain’s success has always been more about the team as a whole than any individual brilliance. Spain might not seem as scary on paper, but the defending champs remain a devastating draw for anyone standing in their way.
It’s feels like the basketball world has been waiting a decade for Canada’s breakthrough on the biggest stages of international play. Now, it’s finally happening. The Canadians’ stunning rout of France in the opening game set the course for a dominant run through group play that saw the team finish with the best point differential in the field (+111), and in the process announce themselves as a very real championship threat. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander gives Canada a superstar shot creator to guide the offense. He’s surrounded by four other NBA players in the starting lineup, and several more coming off the bench, who all know how to play their role. R.J. Barrett is thriving as a slashing off-ball scorer, Dillon Brooks and Lu Dort can play lockdown defense and the space the floor offensively on the wing, and Kelly Olynyk and Dwight Powell provide differing but complementary skill sets in the front court. Head coach Jordi Fernandez is pushing all the right buttons and looks like a future star in his own right. Canada has every ingredient to win the whole thing, and no one should be surprised if they actually do it.
1. United States
Team USA was never going to be tested in the opening round of group play against underwhelming competition, but the first three games against New Zealand, Greece, and Jordan showed why the Americans still have the highest ceiling of anyone in the tournament. Head coach Steve Kerr has a roster light on experience, but flushed with shot creation, athleticism, and outside shooting. While the starters have occasionally struggled to find their groove, the reserves — led by Tyrese Haliburton, Austin Reaves, and Paolo Banchero — have been electric going against backups. The best thing about this Team USA group is that no single player is tasked with carrying them: anyone can emerge as the hero on any give night. A lack of beef inside could make the Americans susceptible to an upset as the tournament reaches its conclusion. While this is by no means an unbeatable-looking USA squad, but it remains the strongest roster, top-to-bottom, in the World Cup field.