Examining Parker, Gasol and rest of NBA pack at 2013 EuroBasket in Slovenia
Ricky Rubio, Spain (Timberwolves): Juan Carlos Navarro didn’t compete in Slovenia, but the Spanish backcourt rotation was absolutely loaded. In addition to Rubio and Calderon, Spanish coach Juan Orenga had former NBA players Rudy Fernandez and Sergio Rodriguez at his disposal, plus Sergio Llull (who plays for Real Madrid and was a standout in the bronze-medal game). Playing time, then, wound up being a wacky juggling act, and Rubio saw his minutes cut in a number of Spain’s biggest games. Overall, Rubio averaged 7.2 points and 3.4 assists in 20.7 minutes. He made his mark defensively by notching a tournament-best 15 steals.
One storyline entering the tournament was how well Rubio would shoot after two seasons in Minnesota where he hit only 35.9 percent overall and 31.7 from deep. The results weren’t really definitive. Rubio converted 46.3 percent from the field, but he rarely shot from beyond the arc and he was happy to stay in pass-first mode. That mentality helped him lead a number of successful breaks in transition. Unfortunately, Rubio, still just 22, watched many of the tournament’s biggest moments from the bench.
Boris Diaw, France (Spurs): Gasol aside, Diaw was the most captivating big man in the tournament. It helps that he enjoys a sixth-sense camaraderie with Parker, his longtime friend and teammate, but his skill level is such that it deserves its own praise, independent from France’s franchise point guard. Diaw averaged 10.4 points, 4.6 rebounds and a team-leading 3.4 assists, providing timely baskets and helping France stay afloat when it went cold from the outside. Diaw hit for double figures in four of France’s final five games, and his versatility proved to be too much for most of his opponents. He sealed a strong tournament performance with 15 points, six rebounds and four assists in the gold-medal game against Lithuania. Like Parker, he has been representing France in international competitions for more than a decade.
Jose Calderon, Spain (Mavericks): Like Rubio, Calderon saw his minutes fluctuate, but he did enjoy a bit more stability. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to deliver in the tournament’s knockout stage after scoring 23 points (including five three-pointers) and handing out five assists against Finland during the second round. In the final four games, Calderon averaged just five points on 29.2 percent shooting, and he missed a potential game-winning three-pointer in the closing seconds of regulation against France.
Mavericks fans will be glad to note that Calderon ranked sixth in three-point shooting at 45.7 percent and tied for third with 21 total threes. That percentage, by the way, is virtually identical to his league-best 46.1 percent for the Raptors and Pistons last season.
Luigi Datome, Italy (Pistons): This summer, Detroit signed Datome, 25, to a two-year contract after he spent the previous 10 years working his way up in the Italian ranks. The 6-foot-8 forward won MVP honors in Italy’s Serie A last year, and he enjoyed a do-everything EuroBasket for Italy, which lost to Lithuania in the quarterfinals. Datome was second on the team in scoring (13.8 points) and rebounding (4.9), and he shot 42.9 percent from long range (No. 15 overall) while leading the tournament with 24 three-pointers. Datome twice topped 20 points, hitting for 25 against Russia and 24 against Croatia, while knocking down three three-pointers in each game. He looks like a building block for Italy and a much-needed floor spacer for Detroit.
Jonas Valanciunas, Lithuania (Raptors): Minutes aren’t handed out in Lithuania, and the Raptors’ promising young center, coming off Las Vegas Summer League MVP honors, managed to garner only 16.5 minutes per game. It should be noted that Valanciunas, 21, was the youngest player to make Lithuania’s roster by more than two years. When he did play, Valanciunas often looked special, posting three double-doubles and shooting a whopping 65.9 percent. His improved upper-body strength was really evident against international competition, as he powered through on and-one plays and made an impact rebounding on both ends. His final numbers — 6.5 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.4 assists — shouldn’t be misread as disappointing. He was a handful for opponents.
Victor Claver, Spain (Blazers): Portland has dipped repeatedly into the international game over the last decade, and guys who played for, or had their rights held by, the Blazers (Rodriguez, Fernandez, Petteri Koponen, Kostas Papanikolaou, Georgios Printezis, etc.) dotted the field in Slovenia. Aside from Batum, Claver was the only current member of the Blazers to compete at EuroBasket, as British big man Joel Freeland elected to sit this one out.
Claver, 25, a tweener forward who lacks the shooting range to succeed as a small forward and the size/strength to play full-time power forward in the NBA, was a helpful contributor for Spain. As the team’s starting power forward, Claver did his best to hold down the boards and protect the paint on defense while mostly staying out of the way and shooting only when wide open on offense. He dutifully filled that role, playing with good energy and effort. He averaged 6.1 points and 5.1 rebounds, and the latter figure marked the second-best number for the Spaniards. The size and scope of his role will clearly change when Pau Gasol and Ibaka return to international competition, but Claver’s ability to do the little things and play with purpose should keep him in the rotation mix.