Last year, it was the FIBA World Cup. This year, tournaments were spread all over the world in preparation for next year’s Olympic games.
The one advantage for basketball fans: the FIBA Americas, Eurobasket, Asia, Afrobasket, and Oceania tournaments allowed for lots of basketball with several different NBA talents from all over the world. The Timberwolves’ roster features players from Canada, Spain, Senegal, the Dominican Republic, Serbia, Montenegro, and Croatia.
Not everyone on the Wolves roster played in international play this summer (Rubio, Pekovic, Towns), but most did. Let’s see how they fared.
Andrew Wiggins, Canada
15 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 2.3 apg, 49.5% FG, 51.7% 3pt
For the most part, Wiggins played like the young star he showed for his rookie season. In fact, with the exception of some spot-up three pointers, his play in this tournament often mirrored his rookie season.
He had some moments of brilliance on the offensive end, and had some earth-shattering dunks in both this tournament and the one preceding it. In addition, he shot over 50 percent from 3-point land. He was the clearcut leader of team Canada, and Wolves fans should feel good about his play over the summer.
Anthony Bennett, Canada
7.6 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 1.2 apg, 58.0% FG, 43.8% 3pt
While it’s looking like Bennett may now be on his way of Minnesota, it’s still worth looking back at what he did next to Wiggins. You know, just in case he sticks around. Not a ton to report that Wolves fans didn’t already know – not from this tournament anyway.
While he was the bonafide team leader of Canada in the preceding tournament (Marchand Cup), he disappeared a bit in the Americas. Part of that may be the permenant inclusion of Wiggins and others, but Bennett struggled to make a name for himself in the tournament that mattered. Percentages were fine, presence was not.
Gorgui Dieng, Senegal
22.9 ppg, 13.9 rpg, 3.7 apg, 47.4% FG, 20% 3pt (5/25)
Fact: Gorgui Dieng rocks in international play. It helps that AfroBasket doesn’t feature a ton of talent, but look back at his numbers in last year’s World Cup. He’s been doing this for a while. But this time around, he threw a curveball.
Dieng was shooting threes! And taking the ball to the hoop from the perimeter! The deep ball shooting wasn’t always effective, but it was fun to watch. It’s tough to take too much from this tourney in effort to try to gauge his 2015-16 season with the Wolves, but if nothing else, watching Dieng was a good time.
Nemanja Bjelica, Serbia
13.9 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 2.7 apg, 56.1% FG, 37.5% 3pt
His consistency wasn’t as great as some let on, but if you watched Nemanja Bjelica in this tournament and aren’t excited, you’re crazy. Not only did he show NBA-ready offensive instincts, he showed a confidence that most players don’t have.
Will he have that in his first couple games with the Wolves? You can’t blame him if he doesn’t, but it will come with time. In the meantime, look for solid point forward skills, good passing, and a nose for the basket. This could work, whatever that means.
Damjan Rudez, Croatia
1.7 ppg, 0.5 rpg, 0.8 apg, 10.5% FG, 15.4% 3pt
There was no highlight from Rudez in this tournament, because frankly, he didn’t play all that well. For the most part, he was invisible during his time playing with Croatia.
This isn’t something to read too much into, as Rudez’ s role with the Wolves (assuming he makes the team) will revolve around sitting from the 3-point line. He shot over 40 percent from deep with the Pacers, so we know he can do that. Not a great summer for stats, though.