When Kevin Durant and Team USA took the podium to receive their gold medals, it marked not only the end of the Olympics, but of a summer of FIBA tournaments. Beginning with the U17 Worlds in June and concluding with Saturday’s thrilling U16 European championship game, the best young players from across the globe have been competing for their junior national teams in small-scale versions of the Rio games. Here is a breakdown of some of the standout performers, along with their early DMX grades (the complete model for reference):
G: Markelle Fultz (USA)
FIBA Exp.: 109 minutes (2016 U18 Americas)
FIBA DMX: 13.3
Another small sample size, another shroud of evidence that Markelle Fultz is the best PG prospect since Kyrie Irving. Fultz has moved to #1 in DraftExpress’ 2017 mock draft, in part due to his dominant play at the U18 Americas tournament. I captured some of his finest moments for your enjoyment.
G: Collin Sexton (USA)
FIBA Exp.: 113 minutes (2016 U17 Worlds)
FIBA DMX: 9.1
If I had to pick a star-making performance of the FIBA junior national games, I’d lean towards Collin Sexton (pictured) in the U17 championship game against Turkey. In a 20-minute adrenaline rush, the 6-footer scored 16 points (8-9 FG) and dished out 8 assists. Beyond the box score, Sexton plays with an energy, flair, and fearlessness from the point guard position that is distinctly Westbrook-ian.
F: Dzanan Musa (Bosnia)
FIBA Exp.: 876 minutes (2014 U16 Euros, 2015 U16 Euros, 2016 U17 Worlds)
FIBA DMX: 7.2
Dzanan Musa played the role of one-man team for a Bosnian squad that likely wouldn’t have qualified for the tournament without him. Musa, a highly skilled offensive player, was mostly up to the task, including a 50-point outburst against Chinese Taipei. After three FIBA tournaments and a 2016 season in which he appeared in Euroleague at age 16, Musa is one of the highest rated international prospects in the world (6.8 DMX overall).
F: Michael Porter Jr. (USA)
FIBA Exp.: 105 (2016 U18 Americas)
FIBA DMX: 10.7
Young Michael Porter Jr. looked the part of a future #1 pick, putting on a show alongside Markelle Fultz in the U18s. Porter is a futuristic prototype; a 6’10” forward who can handle, shoot threes (6-20 3PT), and explode for transition dunks. With Porter already in tow for next year’s recruiting class, Washington’s Lorenzo Romar may have bagged the #1 pick in back-to-back years.
C: Usman Garuba (Spain)
FIBA Exp.: 203 minutes (2016 U16 Euros)
FIBA DMX: 8.7
Spain’s Usman Garuba took U16 MVP honors and had one of the most dominant FIBA runs of the summer by anyone not on Team USA…as a 14-year old. One can’t help but question the validity of Garuba’s birth certificate, given how big and good he is, although this would be an unnecessarily bold lie. Either way, Garuba is a stellar defender, rebounder, and finisher who could develop into a Tristan Thompson type.
G: Troy Brown (USA)
FIBA Exp.: 166 minutes (2016 U17 Worlds)
FIBA DMX: 8.8
Brown is not a great scorer at this stage, but he was arguably Team USA’s best all-around player in the U17 Worlds. At 6’6”, Brown has the versatility to run the offense (5.1 assists per 40 minutes) or play alongside smaller guards like Collin Sexton and Markus Howard.
G: R.J. Barrett (Canada)
FIBA Exp.: 307 minutes (2015 U16 Americas, 2016 U17 Worlds)
FIBA DMX: 4.7
Just a rising sophomore at Montverde Basketball Factory, Barrett profiles similarly to the last big thing out of Canada, Andrew Wiggins. Barrett is an athletic, five-star swingman without any particular outlier skills. For what it’s worth, R.J. has outperformed Wiggins at the FIBA level:
|R.J. Barrett||307 minutes||26.3||7.2||3.1||1.4||0.8||4.0||4.7|
|Andrew Wiggins||289 minutes||20.0||7.3||1.8||1.0||1.8||3.2||3.2|
F: P.J. Washington (USA)
FIBA Exp.: 89 minutes (2016 U18 Americas)
FIBA DMX: 9.1
Like Troy Brown, Washington was an un-celebrated role player with an absurd small sample size DMX. Washington, who possesses impressive court vision for a teenaged big man, picked up eight assists and nine steals in less than 90 minutes of court time.
F: Lauri Markkanen (Finland)
FIBA Exp.: 818 minutes (2013 U16B Euros, 2014 U18B Euros, 2015 U18 Euros, 2016 U20 Euros)
FIBA DMX: 7.1
It was tough to leave Markkanen off the first team in favor of Musa, who I couldn’t in good conscious pass off as a guard. The best hooper from Finland in who knows how long, Lauri will try to carry the momentum of a big summer into a highly anticipated freshman year at Arizona.
C: Wendell Carter Jr. (USA)
FIBA Exp.: 217 minutes (2015 U16 Americas, 2016 U17 Worlds)
FIBA DMX: 7.7
The biggest difference between USA Basketball and other countries at the junior level are man-children like Wendell Carter Jr., who has been a dominant scorer and rebounder for two gold medal squads.