For those basketball junkies in need of some late-summer hoops, the FIBA Americas and FIBA Europe tournaments -- to select four more Olympic qualifiers -- provide a necessary fix for all of us the next two weeks. More than 50 NBA players and a score of quality international players have been competing for 34 teams.
FIBA basketball usually involves more team-oriented play on offense, but because of the 24-second clock, a player who can create a shot on his own is extremely valuable. On the other hand, the allowance of true zone defenses and more physical play than in the NBA often can negate a superstar's talent and ability to play isolation basketball.
So far in the tournaments, nine of FIBA Europe's top 15 scorers played in the NBA last season, as did FIBA Americas' top three scorers. Talent is talent, and good players will score points. But, more than just scoring, how are these players' roles on their national teams different from their roles on their NBA teams? Also, are there players who might be suited better for FIBA basketball than for the NBA?
Dirk Nowitzki vs. the zone defense
Fran Fraschilla's evaluation: Nowitzki, a 10-time NBA All-Star, is easily the most decorated player in the FIBA Europe Tournament, especially after leading the Dallas Mavericks to the NBA title in June. Although one would expect him to dominate EuroBasket, however, he is averaging his fewest points in the tournament since 1999, when he was a 21-year-old NBA rookie.