As you all know, one more World Cup will be held this summer. Basketball World Cup. How do you feel about the FIBA World Cup? How does Your team's roster look like? Who are the players to watch? Who are the players to watch that might benefit the Grizzlies? Who will win? Are you going to watch it? Which teams are you the most enthusiastic about?
I'm very excited since Serbia has a huge history in national competitions in basketball and with this revamped and very young team we are slowly, step by step, looking to get back where we were in golden years.
Players to watch:
1) Miloš Teodosić (PG/SG, 6'5, CSKA Moscow). The best point/combo guard in Europe. One of the most skilled ball handlers in the world (including NBA players). A terrific passer, and a great shooter. One of the rare players that is able to make huge plays single-handedly. If left alone, he will score 30 on you with ease. Although he is very deceptive with his dribble and speed, he is not much of an athlete, he is not a strong fella and he doesn't play good D. The Grizzlies were interested in him in the beginning of the last season.
2) Nemanja Bjelica (SF/PF, 6'10, Fenerbahce Ulker/Minnesota Timberwolves). One of the up-and-coming Euroleague stars. Since his time in Caja Laboral, Bjelica's trend of improving each year is continuing, so he quickly became one of the most important players in Fenerbahce, along with Croatian teammate Bojan Bogdanović (who is also a guy to watch!). Highly skilled for his size, refined fundamentals, excellent footwork, great handling skills, knack for passing, good shot blocker, great chasedown defender and a venomous shooter. The rights for Bjelica are currently held by Minnesota Timberwolves (!).
3) Bogdan Bogdanović (SG/PG/SF, 6'6, Fenerbahce Ulker/Phoenix Suns). One of the greatest talents in Europe at his position. He played for a young Partizan Belgrade team since 2010, where he was one of the carriers of the game, especially in 2013-14, when Leo Westermann (France), team's primary PG, got injured, and Bogdan was forced to play point. Although he is not completely comfortable with being a PG, as he is more of a scorer/knock down shooter, he handled the big burden very well. A proven clutch player. A great shooter and a solid defender. Still needs to work on a lot of things, but Phoenix owns a potentially another great ex-Yugoslavian guard, first one being Goran Dragić, of course. Just a couple of days ago, he signed for Fenerbahce Ulker led by the Euro basketball legend Željko Obradović. Look for him to drastically improve in this team.
4) Nemanja Nedović (PG/SG, 6'3, Golden State Warriors). He had a very uninspiring rookie season in Golden State, because he made the same mistake Darko Miličić made - entered the NBA way too early. He is a good ball handler with deceptive speed, but the most notable thing about Nedović is his explosiveness and his vertical. At 6'3, he can make some mind-blowing dunks, thus being named 'European D.Rose' when he was playing in Lietuvos Rytas. What he needs to improve however, is defending his left side, his shooting stroke (he is capable of knocking down threes in a row, but isn't properly consistent), and his play making. What he excels at are the fast breaks. He can run up the court very quickly, and finishes well at the rim. Although his first season with the Warriors was a waste for him, i think that if he continues to work on his game, he could develop into a very valuable NBA combo guard.
5) Nemanja Dangubić (SG/SF/PG, 6'75, Mega Vizura/San Antonio Spurs) is coming from a young Serbian team Mega Vizura (one of the top teams in Serbia). He is a tall and a very athletic shooting guard with a knack for finishing around and close to the rim (aged 21). Very intensive defender. His main drawback is his still-inconsistent shooting stroke, which he is improving as we speak. What he excels at is his active defense and his close range finishing. Mega Vizura is one of the top teams in Serbia, but two most dominant teams, Partizan and Red Star get all the Euroleague games, so he wasn't facing very challenging opponents in domestic league, but he proved his value agains strong opponents. If he becomes a consistent shooter, he might develop as a great fit for the Spurs that currently hold the rights for him.
Other notable players:
1) Vladimir Micov (CSKA, SF/SG): An excellent 3-point shooter
3) Nenad Krstić (Anadoliu Efes, C/PF): The only veteran in Serbian team. You might remember him for his great first three seasons with New Jersey Nets, playing alongside J.Kidd in their exciting playoff push. Since his huge injury in NBA, his athleticism and strength diminished too much for him to handle the sheer physicality of the NBA game, so he moved to CSKA where he was able to adjust himself relying purely on his polished technical game. He had several excellent seasons in Moscow, and is still widely regarded as one of the best centers in Europe. Remember, before Marc there was Divac, but Krstić is one of those tragic players that are too injury-prone, like Željko Rebrača, if anyone remembers him from his time in Detroit and Clippers.