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Ranking best backcourts at 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup: Why Canada has edge over Team USA, Luka Doncic

The 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup is going to be stacked with talent.

Big NBA names such as Luka Doncic, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Jalen Brunson have already committed to playing for their teams. They join some of the best players outside of the NBA in what will be a great competition. 

The guard play in particular at the World Cup is looking like it will be very strong for several teams. There are some extremely talented backcourts playing in the tournament. Here are the top four.

Ranking best backcourts at 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup

1. Canada: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Jamal Murray

Canada has an embarrassment of riches at the guard position. NBA rotation players Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Luguentz Dort and Cory Joseph will likely come off the bench, while Gilgeous-Alexander and Murray form the best starting duo in the tournament. 

Gilgeous-Alexander is coming off a season where he exploded into superstar status, being named to the All-NBA First Team by the season’s end. His averages of 31.4 points, 5.5 assists, 4.8 rebounds, 1.6 steals and 1.0 blocks per game have only been matched by Michael Jordan (twice) in the history of the league, per Stathead. 

Murray showed that he is one of the best guards in the league in helping to lead the Nuggets to a championship. He went No. 1 in our redraft of the 2016 NBA Draft thanks to his elite shot creation and pick-and-roll wizardry. He turns it on in the biggest moments, as is evidenced by his 26.1 points per game in the 2023 NBA Playoffs, which was over six points higher than his regular season average. 

Both Gilgeous-Alexander and Murray are tough players who can score or set up teammates and play physical defense on the other side of the floor. The Canadian roster should have no issues with shot creation with those two at the helm. 

MORE: Full Canada FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 roster

Jalen Brunson

2. USA: Jalen Brunson and Tyrese Haliburton

The USA isn’t far behind Canada.

Brunson has never been an All-Star, but that is probably changing sometime in the near future. He carried the Knicks in the playoffs, elevating his game and his scoring up to 27.8 points per game. He’s one of the best isolation scorers in the league, with a bag as deep as anyone. And while he’s undersized as a defender, he will fight on that end. 

Haliburton made his first All-Star team last season, averaging 20.7 points and 10.4 assists for the Pacers during the regular season. He’s a brilliant passer and a dead-eye 3-point shooter that has hit 40.8 percent of his attempts for his career. With big-time scorers like Paolo Banchero, Anthony Edwards and Brandon Ingram on the roster, Haliburton will rack up his assists throughout the tournament. 

MORE: Full USA FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 roster

Luka Doncic Slovenia Eurobasket 2022

3. Slovenia: Luka Doncic and Aleksej Nikolic

Doncic might be the best player in the tournament. He’s been a star in these settings, racking up a modern record of 47 points against France at last summer’s FIBA EuroBasket 2022. He takes these opportunities to represent Slovenia very seriously, and he’s coming off a season in which he was named an All-NBA First Team guard. 

Nikolic started next to Doncic in the later rounds of the qualifiers last year. Longtime Slovenian national player Zoran Dragic is also a candidate to start. 

Sergio Llull Real Madrid Liga ACB Liga Endesa

4. Spain: Ricky Rubio and Sergio Llull

Rubio tore his ACL at the end of 2021, coming back for the second half of the 2022-23 NBA season. He admitted that he still wasn’t quite 100 percent in a disappointing return where he averaged a career-low 5.2 points and 3.5 assists. He looked a step slow defensively, and he was essentially unplayable in the playoffs for the Cavs.

Hopefully, Rubio’s body is more recovered with the added time off that he’s received. 

Llull has long been one of the best players not in the NBA. He led Real Madrid to their 11th EuroLeague title in their 2022-23 season, hitting the game-winning shot in the championship game. 

When is the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup?

  • Dates: Aug. 25-Sept. 10
  • Locations: Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines

The 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup begins with the Group Phase on Aug. 25, 2023. The Final Phase, or elimination round, begins on Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2023, with the championship game set for Sunday, Sept. 10 at 8:40 a.m. ET.

Canada Group, schedule at 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup

The Canadian Men’s National Team will participate in Group H and will play each game of the Group Phase at the Indonesia Arena in Jakarta. Group H consists of Canada, Latvia, Lebanon and France.

Date Opponent Time (ET)
Fri., August 25 France 9:30 a.m.
Sun., August 27 Lebanon 5:45 a.m.
Tue., August 29 Latvia 9:30 a.m.

The top two finishers from Group H will advance to the Second Round, where they will be joined by the top two finishers from Group G (Iran, Spain, Ivory Coast and Brazil).

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