Which NBA stars will play for their national teams at EuroBasket this summer?
The NBA is still a couple of months away from giving us games, but fans will be able to watch some of their favorite players at this year’s EuroBasket.
It feels like ages ago that Slovenia were crowned European champions, and, well, it was almost five years ago. That summer in 2017 saw Goran Dragic named tournament MVP while Luka Doncic showed once again that he was ready for the NBA. Since then, the world has seen two Europeans, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Nikola Jokic, win two NBA MVPs apiece and Doncic become one of the best players in his early twenties. The three of them are just some of the NBA stars that will take part at EuroBasket 2022, which promises to be a special one.
Luka Doncic’s Slovenia, the champs
Dragic is now even more of a veteran than he was in 2017, but even at 36 he will be an important player next to his team’s superstar: Luka Doncic. The Dallas Mavericks player has not yet won an MVP or a championship in the NBA, but his craft makes him the perfect player for FIBA basketball, as he slowly creates his chances and dominates better than any other player can. Slovenia’s chances hinge on Doncic showing that he cannot be upstaged in Europe, not even by other NBA stars. Unlike Antetokounmpo or Jokic, Doncic was already a star in Europe before reaching the NBA, and he has repeatedly shown that he knows how to win here. Vlatko Cançar, of the Denver Nuggets, will play alongside him as well.
Four Antetokounmpo brothers for Greece
Giannis has never thrived in FIBA competition, but it is still hard to see what he is able to do on an NBA court and not imagine him crushing lesser competition in Europe. He will have another chance this September, and he will be surrounded by family as well, as three of his brothers have been called up to be part of Greece’s team.
Jokic elevates Serbia
Recently drafted Nikola Jovic and Thunder’s Aleksej Pokusevsky will not be part of Serbia’s team, but two-time MVP Jokic will, and that is all they need to have a fighting chance. Jokic is used to being his team’s main player in Denver, but he will have to show his dominance against players more used to FIBA basketball.
Gobert anchors France’s defense
France won the silver medal at the Olympics in 2021, going past everyone but the mighty US team, and they will try to do so again this year. Center Rudy Gobert, recently traded to Minnesota, will have some help around him to both share the burden in defense, like defensive-minded guard Frank Ntilikina, and make plays on offense, with Knicks’ Evan Fournier as the main scoring option.
Ricky Rubio is still recovering from injury, and the golden age of the Spain of the Gasol brothers is long gone, but this team mixes some NBA talent, such as the Hernangómez brothers and the Houston Rockets’ Usman Garuba, with experienced players who have already won this tournament more than once time in Rudy Fernández or Sergio Llull. They are the World Cup holders for a reason.
Rest of the pack: Bogdanovic, Gallinari…
Apart from the clear favorites, most national teams have some NBA talent in their ranks. Croatia will try to compete with the best thanks to three important league players: the Utah Jazz’s Bojan Bogdanovic, the LA Clippers’ Ivica Zubac and Suns’ Dario Saric. Germany has four NBA players, the Wagner brothers, free agent Dennis Schroeder and the Indiana Pacers’ Daniel Theis.
Lithuania will play with two dominant centers in Domantas Sabonis and Jonas Valanciunas, Italy will have Danilo Gallinari as their leader,and Jusuf Nurkic will lead Bosnia-Herzegovina.