The FIBA Basketball World Cup starts on August 30th 2014, and will take place throughout Spain. A total of 24 teams will participate, and we will be taking a look at the stars associated with each team and who will be expected to carry a significant amount of the work for each country. These players are not necessarily the best or superstars, but several are able showcase their talent before making NBA debuts, or show significant improvements in terms of playing style and ability.
1. Angola: Carlos Morais – 6’4″ shooting guard, Toronto Raptors, scored 15.9 points and grabbed 4.6 rebounds during the FIBA Africa Championship. He is also known to be a solid three-point shooter and has gained valuable experience by playing with Canadian NBA representatives last October.
2. Argentina: Luis Scola – Manu Ginobli will not be playing for Argentina so Scola will have a much bigger role to fill for his team. He averaged at least 18 points in all of his recent international games.
3. Australia: Dante Exum – Was drafted in 2014 by the Utah Jazz as a lottery pick. He is a big guard with an athletic playing style, solid defence, and an excellent ball manipulator. The combination of Exum, Mills, and Bogut will help Australia put up a rigid effort against some of the bigger dogs like Spain. This will be a valuable learning experience for the young Australian, and hopefully he will be able to showcase his skills during the World Cup.
4. Brazil: Marcelinho Huertas – 31 year old guard, helped his Barcelona team win the trophy of the Spanish league. He currently averages 11 points and 4.2 assists per game for the national squad, and Brazil seem to have a solid all-round team with great potential this year. In the post they have Nene, Tiago Splitter, as well as Anderson Varejao. Their skills are complemented with Huertas as well as Leandro Barbosa to help spread the floor.
5. Croatia: Bojan Bogdanovic – The Croatian team is full of young potential who will take the stage in the NBA hopefully within the next few years. This includes Mario Hezonja (a predicted top 10 2015 draft pick), Dario Saric (76ers 2014 first-round pick), and Damjan Rudez. During the 2013-14 season, he averaged 13.4 points, 2.2 rebounds, and 2.2 assists in just 27.2 minutes per game. This 6’8″ shooter will surely have a sizeable impact on Croatia’s performance.
6. Dominican Republic: Francisco Garcia – Only player on the national team from the NBA (Houston Rockets) and a decent shooter. He averaged 14.2 points, 2.2 rebounds, 1.4 assists in 2012 for the national team, as well as 16 points, 3 rebounds, and 4 assists in 2013.
7. Egypt: Assem Marei – 6’9″ post player, good post moves and solid rebounder. During the FIBA Africa Championship he averaged an impressive 14.6 points and 11.6 rebounds per game while shooting 53.3%.
8. Finland: Drew Gooden – Evidently the best player on the Finnish team, an NBA veteran, solid athlete.
9. France: Nicolas Batum – Excellent all-rounded player and had a great 2013-14 NBA season. He can contribute in pretty much any fashion for his team and will carry France without Tony Parker on the roster.
10. Greece: Giannis Antetokounmpo – He has shattered the expected developmental timetables and started for the Milwaukee Bucks as a rookie. He performed very well this offseason during the summer league and is predicted to possibly have a breakout 2014-15 season.
11. Iran: Arsalan Kazemi – First Iranian-born player selected in the NBA draft, and an excellent rebounder. He has not made his NBA debut yet as he has chosen to continue to play for his Iranian club. He averaged 12 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 2.8 steals during the 2010 world cup and was the team’s second leading scorer.
12. Korea: Sungmin Cho – Korea’s second-leading scorer in the 2011 FIBA Asia Championship with 11.1 points per game.
13. Lithuania: Jonas Valanciunas – He has been on the verge of a breakout season for a while now and has improved greatly during his young NBA career. He is able to put up big numbers for points and rebounds and is constantly improving his jump shot.
14. Mexico: Gustavo Ayon – Helped bring Mexico to a victory during the 2013 FIBA Americas Championship where he averaged 17.5 points, 9.2 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.4 steals, and 1.4 blocks per game while shooting 58% from the field. He is seen as the leader of the Mexican team.
15. New Zealand: Isaac Fotu – 6’8″ forward who wants to make a great impression on NBA scouts at the World Cup.
16. Philippines: Andray Blatche – NBA caliber player with an excellent turnaround jumper and a variety of moves to beat defensive efforts against him.
17. Puerto Rico: J.J. Barea – MVP of the Tuto Marchand Continental Cup, leading his squad to gold with 18.2 points, 4 rebounds, and 7.8 assists per game. He did all this while shooting 52.9% from the field and 50% from 3-point territory.
18. Senegal: Gorgui Dieng – Timberwolves former head coach was known to hold his rookies back, but when forced to play Dieng due to several team injuries, he exploded during the end of the 2013-14 NBA season. He averaged 12 points, 11.3 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks per game over the course of 18 outings.
19. Serbia: Vasilje Micic – 6’6″ 20-year-old point guard who has yet to make his debut with the 76ers in the NBA. Instead he has kept playing in the Serbian league where he averaged 7.5 assists per game.
20. Slovenia: Goran Dragic – Only NBA player on the team with the added potential of being a 2014-15 all-star contender. He was considered a top 20 player during the 2013-14 season with the Phoenix Suns, and there have been several debates suggesting that he should have been picked as an all-star. He is the unquestioned leader of the Slovenian team.
21. Spain: Ricky Rubio – Spain is easily considered America’s biggest threat to a gold medal during the World Cup, and Ricky Rubio is a great reason as to why. With a point guard such as Rubio running the floor and organising Spain’s impressive low post collection of the Gasol brother’s along with Serge Ibaka, they will surely be a dominating force within the competition.
22. Turkey: Enes Kanter – Number 3 pick in the 2011 draft, and as a part-time starter for the Utah Jazz this big man averaged 12.3 points along with 7.5 rebounds per game. With Omer Asik as a mentor, he should be able to make major improvements and put up some impressive numbers for Turkey.
23. Ukraine: Sergii Gladyr – Solid shooting guard drafted by the Atlanta Hawks in 2009, excellent passer and is known to be an effective sharpshooter.
24. United States: Derrick Rose – Well…this was a no-brainer, wasn’t it? The US team has been kept relatively placid this World Cup in terms of superstar names on the roster. With no LeBron James, Kevin Love, Kevin Durant, and several others, Rose will be expected to lead the way for the world number one basketball team. It will be Derrick Rose’s first opportunity for competitive level basketball on a large stage since his SECOND knee injury with the Chicago bulls early into the 2013-14 season. Recent footage of him at the Team USA scrimmage ignites hope with Rose fans all over the world as he put up a dominant and exciting performance.
Who do you think will win?