The oldest European team in Beijing showed during the tournament that it has come to the end of a cycle. Several German players will end their career in the national team after this tournament, and coach Dirk Bauermann has now four years to rebuild a team to remain competitive.
If you start with the Eurobasket 2009, the German national team will have to go very deep in their youth categories to find the necessary talent to set up a nice team. The chances of seeing Dirk Nowitzki in Poland are very, very slim and therefore Chris Kaman won’t be there, either. Nowitzki has not said that he will never play with the national team again, but his goal now is to win the NBA championship. In my opinion, we could see him back in 2011 at the age of 33 to go for a last run at a Eurobasket medal and Olympic Games qualification with a new bunch of young players.
So if you take the current German roster and you delete the following names, you see how big Bauermann’s task is: Garrett, Greene, Roller, Kaman, Schultze, Femerling and Nowitzki. So you need a new backcourt and a new frontcourt, nothing less. All these guys will very probably not be in the roster for the next Eurobasket, as they have either already declared the end of their international career, have declared that they will not play in 2009, or are simply at the end of their progression. So let’s check who could take over the massive open spots in the team.
If we start on the guards, you still have Steffen Hamann. But then? The first name to come to mind is Joe Herber, who played a nice tournament in 2007 but had a very bad year because of injuries in 2008. He is on his way back now and should have an important role in the future of the German NT. But still, Herber is already 25 now.
A name that you can add to the plans is Heiko Schaffartzik; he’ll have his first starting job season this year in Giessen and brings the necessary offensive firepower to make for a good rotation. Gordon Geib is also a name to consider for immediate results, but if you want to build for the future, you have to dig deeper in the youth categories as quality German guards are hard to find. From 1988, you find Per Günther, who will play his first season in Bundesliga this year, or even 1990-born Maurice Stuckey from Urspring academy.
On the inside positions, Tim Ohlbrecht is of course the man of all hopes. The 1988-born seven-footer should be able to replace Patrick Femerling at least. In combination with Jan Jagla, you have already a very interesting pair of big men at both the C and PF positions. Somebody like Yassin Idbihi could also join the NT in very short time, as the Morocco-born forward from Cologne has already been with the team in preparation. Here there is also a huge gap in the German youth categories, as the generations of 1985, ’86m, and ’87 are really poor. So the eyes of the national team are set on the successful 1989 generation, of which players like Elias Harris and Robin Benzing could have a role with the seniors in a short time.
When you talk about the wings, Konrad Wysocki has played himself into a possible starter at the shooting forward position already. Philip Zwiener, who was the team in Beijing, will see his first Euroleague games this year with ALBA Berlin. Still, neither are players that will bring your team to another level and go for a medal round in the Eurobasket 2009; nor is a real scoring talent showing up in the youth categories at the moment, either.
Johannes Lischka is a player that could be a possibility on the wing for the future, as the 1987-born shooting forward is improving and will gain in maturity in his second season in the Bundesliga. Additionally, younger players like Philipp Schwethelm or Christian Standhardinger may have a future with the national team earlier than they think.
So here is the possible roster of the German National team for 2012.
Guards: Hamann, Herber, Schaffartzik, Stuckey, Schwethelm;
Forwards: Nowitzki, Jagla, Wysocki, Harris, Lischka;
Centers: Kaman, Ohlbrecht.