The Eurocentric 2011-12 NBA Western Conference preview (plus Official Fearless Predictions™)

Okay, after that Xmas distraction, BallinEurope is ready to write up some more stuff about good tidings and cheer*, namely, the start of the NBA season. With hours to go, BiE’s got just enough time to get in the part two of the Euro-centric big-league preview in this brief look at the teams in the Western Conference – plus Official Fearless Predictions™, guaranteed to be as accurate as they are popular.

*Los Angeles Lakers fans, over whom a huge cloud of doom hangs to start this season, excluded (sigh).

As in the Eastern Conference preview, BiE seeks to keep an eye on those players who contributed a stint in Continental ball this summer during the lockout period and even, to some, extent participants in Eurobasket 2011. BiE believes that the running start from real game-time situations plus the suddenly intensive NBA season will give the Euroballers an advantage in the short-term against more laggardly opponents not in “basketball shape.” And with the shortened regular season, a jump start will provide lasting effects.

To BiE, it looks something like this.

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Ho, ho, De Colo! Nando goes Santa Claus

Hey, look, it’s a Christmas card from Nando de Colo via BallinEurope’s man in Italy, Enrico Cellini! Enjoy and happy holidays!

With few seconds on the clock, French combo guard Nando “Aladdin” de Colo is the man that Valencia fans want to see handling the ball. Check out the acrobatic fashion by which he knocked down a half-court shot against Bilbao Basket just two weeks ago (too bad it didn’t count).

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Jaycee Carroll, Nik Caner-Medley: Proud to be Azerbaijani?

One hot-button topic in the European basketball world got a bit more heated yesterday: Word has it that The Azerbaijan Basketball Federation has opened talks that would install American-born players Jaycee Carroll and Nik Caner-Medley on the men’s national team in preparation for Eurobasket qualifiers.

Twitter tremors on the acquisitions – and let’s just call them acquisitions, shall we? It’s just business, after all – are still occurring, but the overriding sentiment only with an interesting bit of information was perhaps best summed up by Sportando’s tweet:

Jaycee Carroll has the same agent as Nik Caner-Medley who got as well passport from Azerbaijan. Europe, where fake passports happen.

As for BallinEurope, yes, we’re addressing the topic. Enrico Cellini weighs in on the subject below.

Suppose you are the head of a basketball federation in a tiny state with little tradition in the sport and must prepare for the Eurobasket 2013 qualification round. You would:

A) Hire a foreign coach with long European Basketball resume;

B) Invest in young players that could turn out to be good in the future; or

C) Just do like everyone else and grant national passports to American players so they can play in your national team.

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The official BallinEurope ballot for FIBA Europe Men’s Players of the Year: Nowitzki, Navarro and…?

BallinEurope just loves season- and year-ending polls, and every December FIBA Europe offers hoops devotees the opportunity to participate in the naming the Continent’s Players of The Year. And while the winner of the award for 2011 – a.k.a. the Year of Dirk – is surely a no-brainer, the FIBA ballot calls for electors to award a 1st, 2nd and 3rd place vote from among 10 nominees; BiE is finding that no. 3 spot a real mind-bender. If someone can provide a nice salient argument for the final spot, that person will have BiE’s undying admiration.

The process of elimination went the following way, in reverse order of finish, and garnishing with highlight clips.

10. Dimitris Diamantidis, Panathinaikos. Yes, Double-D was the Euroleague MVP and the Euroleague Final Four MVP for 2010-11. Yes, he thus established himself as one of the five or six greatest of the EL modern era. But Diamantidis did not play any international ball, whereas all other nine nominees participated in Eurobasket 2011 and most where instrumental to their team’s successes. Dimitris simply has the shortest CV of a very talented ten.

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Parting shots, part one: Okur throws dagger; Splitter near double-double; D-Will’s jersey retired (no, really)

A few players returning to the NBA made expected final appearances with their European clubs last night as the mass departure to the ‘States begins. BallinEurope runs down a handful of individual performances from Adriatic League, Eurocup, and FIBA Eurochallenge games.

• Big shot of the night, NBA-related or no, was certainly Mehmet Okur’s three-point dagger to give Turk Telekom the 83-81 win over Pinar Karsiyaka. Reports FIBA Europe in part: “With Turkish basketball still talking about the 50-point explosion by Okur’s former Utah Jazz teammate Deron Williams for Beşiktaş last week, Okur capped another solid performance with a long-range shot that gave the Ankara team an 83-81 triumph on Tuesday.

“Utah Jazz big man Okur, like New Jersey Nets guard Williams, is to soon head back to the United States following Saturday’s announcement that the lockout is set to end this week.

“Okur had 14 points and 10 rebounds in Izmir against Karsiyaka. … His free throw had given Turk Telekom an 80-79 advantage with 31 seconds to go, but Karsiyaka went back out in front when Alper Saruhan landed a jumper.

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