EuroBasket 2017 Preview Group D - The Kristaps Porzingis Show


EuroBasket gets ready to start on August 31 and is one of the best competitions of international basketball out there. It’s taking place in Finland, Romania, Israel and Turkey from August 31 – September 17. There are plenty of big names playing in the event and some missing due to injury. EuroBasket is made up of 24 teams, playing in 4 groups. The top-4 from each group advance to the knockout round. Spain is the reigning champ from 2015. We’ll be taking a look at each group over the next few days, breaking down the roster and picking who should advance to the knockout round. I highly suggest watching the event if you can as it is probably the third most competitive event behind the Olympics and World Cup for basketball. 

Group C

Venue: Istanbul, Turkey

Teams (World Rank): Great Britain (22), Russia (9), Serbia (3), Latvia (35), Turkey (8), Belgium (44)


BelgiumGreat BritianLatviaRussiaSerbiaTurkey

Story lines to Watch: 

1. Kristaps Porzingis at the international level: 

There’s probably not a better player in the tournament than Kristaps Porzingis, good friend of Clem and unicorn of New York. Because of Kristaps (and Davis Bertans) Latvia has a good chance to make the medal stand and some thing they could be a darkhorse to win the gold. Kristaps obviously has become a star in the NBA and one of the best young players in the league. We now get to see him at the international level, where he’s the best player in the event. Latvia will run their offense through Kristaps, using him in pick and pops all over the court. Knicks fans will want to tune in just because it’s a chance to watch Kristaps play where he’s not being called a pussy (allegedly) and is a little more in his element.

2. Serbia without Milos Teodosic and Nikola Jokic

Serbia made the gold medal game in the 2016 Olympics. They have the absolute most fun player to watch in Milos Teodosic and one of the best young players in the world in Nikola Jokic. They would be my pick to win the gold medal if both of them were playing in this event. They are missing it however, which means Serbia is now beatable and will look to rely on Bogdan Bogdonvic, who signed with the Sacramento Kings this offseason. Bogdanovic is a must-watch player as he’s known as the best shooter in Europe. When you watched him play either for Serbia or for Fenerbache, you saw he had range all throughout the gym and was a complete star at that level. Without Teodosic and Jokic, Serbia will look for him to be the go-to guy on the offensive side of the ball here too.

3. Turkey at home 

As I’ve said before, home court advantage in Europe is a very real thing. That’s the case here in Turkey too as the crowd will be going absolutely nuts anytime the Turks step on the court. They will be without Ersan Ilyasova and Omer Asik but they still have a group that should advance to the next round. Keep an eye on Cedi Osman a 22-year old who is currently signed with the Cavs. He was drafted 31st overall in the 2015 Draft by Minnesota before being traded for Tyus Jones. He’s won MVP at the 2013 Europe U-18s and 2014 Europe U-20s.

4. Familiar names for Russia trying to advance 

Russia has been one of the more disappointing teams in Europe lately but that has a decent chance of changing this time around. The Russians are third favorites to win the group according to odds (ahead of Latvia) and have a two-man team of Aleksey Shved and Timofey Mozgov that the Russians will lean on for the five games of group play. The Russians won bronze at the 2011 EuroBasket and 2012 Olympic games. However, since then they haven’t qualified for the Olympics and finished 21st in 2013 EuroBasket and 17th in the 2015 EuroBasket. This is one of the last go-arounds for Mozgov and Shved in their prime, so they need a strong performance.

5. Manu Lecomte debuts for Belgium

College basketball fans will get to watch one of their own play in this event as Baylor guard Manu Lecomte will be on the Belgium national team for the first time. He was one of the breakout players last year for Baylor (after sitting out due to transferring from Miami) and has the ability to drop 20 in a game without really paying attention. He’ll step in as a shooter and ball handler for Belgium, but I’m curious to see how he takes care of the ball. There were times last year at Baylor he’d get careless and make mindless turnovers, now at the European level will he do the same?

Five Best Players

1. Kristaps Porzingis (Latvia)

2. Bogdan Bogdanovic (Serbia)

3. Cedi Osman (Turkey)

4. Aleksey Shved (Russia)

5. Davis Bertans (Latvia)

Projected order of finish: 

1. Serbia

2. Latvia

3. Turkey

4. Russia

Do not advance to knockout stage

5. Belgium

6. Great Britain