The games are over, and the Americans won their basketball gold, but not without trying to make it at least a little bit interesting.
With the defection of Durant, Ibaka’s trade and Olympic absence, and Westbrook’s withdrawal from the Games, Thunder fans looking for a glimpse of next season were disappointed by Olympic basketball this time around.
Alex Abrines, the Thunder rookie coming over from Spain, was literally a non-factor–he barely played at all. His only recorded stat was a plus/minus of -5. Although many were high on Abrines coming out of Real Madrid, the Spanish team is simply too talented and experienced for Abrines to have had any meaningful impact. Spain had no lack of talented, veteran guards and forwards; Ricky Rubio, Nikola Mirotic, Rudy Fernandez, Sergio Llull, and Juan Carlos Navarro all took the lion’s share of minutes and statistics for the Bronze medal-winning Spanish squad.
Domantas Sabonis didn’t exactly impress either, at least statistically. He impressed with a strong initial showing, but all of his stats took a nosedive in Lithuania’s last three games. He ended the tournament averaging 5.5 points per game, adding 4.5 rebounds and under an assist per game. While his play was spotty and faltered late in the tournament, Sabonis showed flashes of savvy and composure, especially in the first three games. He may get some serious playing time in his rookie season with the Thunder if he can prove consistent.
At face value, it’s hard to assign any real meaning to the young guns’ showing (or lack thereof) in Rio de Janeiro. Through the statistic lens, Domantas Sabonis and Alex Abrines were quite disappointing. Considering the context, though, it would have taken a transcendent showing for either to get much playing time, and it should be clear that the two are not those kinds of players, at least at this early stage in their respective careers. The pair have some development to make, especially physically.
Despite not accomplishing a whole lot individually, the Olympic experience and the rigor of the competition were definitely a positive for their development. By the time the 2020 Olympics in Japan roll around, Sabonis and Abrines will be ready to go for Lithuania and Spain.