The Dream Team’s children

The now elder statesmen of international hoops often speak about the influence the Dream Team had on them but what about the players who were born in the wake of that defining event in international basketball? Emmet Ryan looks at the most interesting young players at the 2014 FIBA World Cup of Basketball.

This seems like as good a time as any to talk about youth at the World Cup given Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk has been named in Ukraine’s squad. For the purposes of this we’re defining these players as any born from 1992 onwards. That means one or two were born before the 1992 Olympics but we’re going to allow them those couple of months when it’s safe to say they didn’t develop all that much as ballers.

What was stunning in our look across the squads was how few young players feature on teams from the Americas. Outside of Team USA, it’s a string of veteran heavy outfits. Europe, by and large, is sending more balanced squads but there are plenty of younger players knocking around.
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The Dish: Ohhh Alex Abrines

After a week off due to Cup Week, the Dish returns with a packed sched. From the Hall of Fame to the Rising Stars and a big slate of Euroleague action, it’s been a busy week in European hoops but I’ve got one question: What about Rudy?

The most hated man in European basketball may be considering a switch back to the NBA. Rudy Fernandez, a man who would wear ‘Everybody hate me’ on his back if Euroleague ever considered nickname jerseys, is being looked at by the Oklahoma City Thunder. Losing Rudy would be bad for ball over here for many reasons. He is a top tier talent in Euroleague and that’s enough in and of itself  but that’s not why I’m concerned. The sheer unreasonable hate of Rudy is almost soothing. Heck even Greens and Reds can come to agree on one thing: “Fucking Rudy”. We can lose such a symbol of unity. Fortunately, Fernandez would need to be nuts to go back to the NBA. Yes it’s the best league in the world but why leave a starting job with a big salary to fight for minutes?

One man happy to fight for minutes Stateside is BiE cult favourite Pero Antic. The Macedonia  big man was meant to play for Team Hill in the Rising Stars challenge but injury prevented him from playing and was instead replaced by Miles Plumlee. Jonas Valanciunas started for Team Hill and had 4 points, 2 boards, and 2 assists in his 19 minutes. Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 9 points, grabbed 2 boards, and dished 2 dimes, as Team Hill took a 142-136 victory over Team Webber.
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Europeans in 2013 NBA Draft: Consensus, Best-Case Scenarios, Official Fearless Predictions™ on our Top 10

NBA Draft Day 2013 is upon us and while US-based media mostly grouses about the lack of high-quality players this time ‘round, European basketball fans have much to look forward to one year after a first round passed with no Continental player selected. In the 2013 edition, a dozen or so European ballers are reasonably in the running to hear their names called within the 60 picks – and several will go in the first.

BallinEurope today takes a look at our top 10 prospects for this NBA Draft and Officially Fearlessly Predicts the fates of each. From thousands of mock drafts floating about the blogosphere, BiE called on seven good sources in order to form something of a “consensus” opinion. (“Consensus” is in quotes there for this oddest of drafts in which even the no. 1 overall is a question mark – and any semblance of agreement is lost by no. 7 on this list…) In seeking wisdom from all corners great and small, the mix includes specialists and Draft Express; big media outlets Yahoo Sports and the USA Today’s “common sense” mock; and the Hoops Hype, Dime Magazine, Real GM and Prospects in Europe websites.

Let the speculation roll on and enjoy the show tonight (this morning CET)!

The BallinEurope top 10 includes the following…

Alex Len is the poster boy for the uncertainty principle overriding the 2013 NBA Draft as the conception of Nerlens Noel has gone from prohibitive no. 1 choice to possibly the second-biggest center available behind Len. The Ukrainian first garnered serious buzz on opening day in 2012, when he was able to torch Noel and his Kentucky Wildcats for 23 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks; unfortunately for Len (though maybe also fortunate, as Noel’s stock drops), ankle surgery preempted his pre-Draft workouts.

Consensus: A top six pick, most likely by the Cleveland Cavaliers at no. 1, the Charlotte Bobcats at no. 4 or the New Orleans Pelicans at no. 6. (This draft is awesome.)

Best case scenario: Is Len facing lose-lose situations with any of these three teams, each of which worked him out in the pre-Draft? If taken at no. 1, Len gets a fat contract with immediate high expectations and Bargnaniphobia as just the second-ever European chosen first. At no. 4, he goes to the Bobcats and, well, they’re the Bobcats; at no. 6 with the Pelicans, Len figures to get quality time but with a smaller paycheck. All things considered, BiE sides with the personal cash grab: Best for Len is to go to the Cavaliers … and help the city of Cleveland hold its breath in anticipation of Lebron James’ impending freedom in 2014.

Official BallinEurope Fearless Prediction™: Len to the Charlotte Bobcats – and gods have mercy on him…

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On Hezonja, Todorovic plus a couple of Swedes: FC Barcelona’s future as bright as the present?

Barcelona’s future: Alex Abrines, Mario Hezonja, Marko Todorović

As though FC Barcelona’s red-hot play – they’re now at 14-4 overall after an 0-2 start in Spain – weren’t enough to keep European basketball devotees watching, here are two more reasons for you: Mario Hezonja and Marko Todorović.

At just 17 years old and despite missing the entire 2011-12 regular season, Hezonja finally got a taste of the action in Barça’s 78-48 laugher over Beşiktaş in Turkey last Friday night. His Euroleague debut stat line read five points, two rebounds and one steal in a few ticks under 12 minutes of play.

Hezonja again did not play in Spain this weekend, unlisted on the roster for Barca’s 81-64 win over Cajasol in Liga Endesa play; the 12th-man spot was filled by 20-year-old Todorović of Montenegro. In the Beşiktaş game, Todorović’s 12 minutes of court time was the most he’s gotten all season and the national teamer was good for four points, four rebounds and two blocks.

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Podcast: “The Euroleague Bonanza”

On this, the eve of Euroleague basketball 2012-13 edition, David Hein and BallinEurope (unleash) present a serious gabfest on all things Euroleague (and some NBA) with two of our favorite hoops scribes. It’s two hours of solid basketball talk, a.k.a. episode four in the “Taking the Charge” podcast series, which Hein took to calling “The Euroleague Bonanza” early. Show segments – really, this thing is so long, segmentation is necessary – are:

• A chat with UK-based John Hobbs of Talk Basket – Having attended several media events in Germany as well as the actual Alba Berlin-Dallas Mavericks NBA Europe Live tour game itself, John joined David Hein and myself to talk about Dirkamania, marketing the NBA (particular in that tricky British market) and the actually quite substantive >David Stern ‘n’ Jordi Bertomeu press conference of last week. Plus, fearless predictions from the Basket Talker … sort of.

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