It’s the NBA’s most boring month, but European basketball was at its best in September. The 2022 Eurobasket will be remembered as a fascinating and prediction-busting tournament, filled with NBA superstars and big upsets at every stage.
Up to 35 NBA players represented their National Teams. This is how each one performed in arguably the most exciting Eurobasket of all time.
Willy Hernangomez (New Orleans)
Stats: 17.2 points, 6.9 rebounds, 1.0 assists
In a tournament that featured the last two NBA MVPs, three 2022 All-NBA 1st Team members and four 2022 All-Stars, the best player was the third-string center for the New Orleans Pelicans. Willy Hernangomez earned MVP honors by being the most consistent player for the best team in Europe, as a testament to how teamwork can beat individual talent in FIBA competitions.
The 28-year-old center was unstoppable in the paint during the tournament, shooting 63.5 percent from the field and forcing defenses to double-team him often. Spain’s coach Sergio Scariolo did a masterful job managing minutes, leaving Hernangómez (21.7 mpg) and the rest of the team fresh for the key games. The result: Even after losing the Gasol brothers and most of the superstars from its golden generation, Spain won its fourth Eurobasket in the last six editions. And Willy Hernangomez was essential for the unexpectedly successful run.
Dennis Schroeder (LA Lakers)
Stats: 22.1 points, 2.3 rebounds, 7.1 assists
Dennis Schroeder played the Eurobasket at his own risk with no contract, and walked away with a one-year deal with the Lakers and the first medal for Germany in a FIBA tournament since 2005. Playing at home, the 29-year-old point guard was the undisputed star of his team, shooting over 50 percent from the field while being one of the top playmakers of the tournament. A boost of confidence after a couple of rough years in the NBA.
Lauri Markkanen (Utah)
Stats: 27.9 points, 8.1 rebounds, 2.4 assists
Since 1967, Finland had never had a Top 8 finish in a major FIBA tournament. And then, Lauri Markkanen arrived. The new Jazz forward led his team to a historic run, including a massive 43-point effort in the Round of 16 against Croatia. At age 25, and already qualified for the 2023 World Cup, his future in FIBA competitions is incredibly bright. Utah will hope to see this dominant version of Markkanen on a nightly basis.
Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee)
Stats: 29.3 points, 8.8 rebounds, 4.7 assists
FIBA elimination games can be really cruel. No matter how great you have played before, a loss at the wrong time and place will send you home without any silverware. For Giannis Antetokounmpo, that was the reality. His numbers were out of his world and at times he was the most dominant player of the tournament. But a tough loss against Germany in the quarterfinals, (in which he was ejected) ended his championship dreams.
For the Bucks, there’s a clear silver lining. He stayed in shape while displaying his astounding set of skills. Antetokounmpo also had plenty of minutes as the true center of the Greek National Team, which probably helped him add some post moves to his toolbox. Most importantly, the two-time MVP will have a chip on his shoulder after an unsuccessful summer, at least for his standards.
A perfect combination to fuel Milwaukee’s quest for another title.
Nikola Jokic (Denver)
Stats: 21.7 points, 10.0 rebounds, 4.3 assists
The two-time NBA MVP’s usual monster numbers were not enough to prevent Serbia from finishing with another heartbreak (after missing the Olympic Games last year). With limited minutes (25.0 per game), there was an effort to reduce Nikola Jokic‘s workload in the tournament. It was a solid plan considering the elite talent at the FIBA level around him, which included Euroleague MVP Vasilije Micic. But a catastrophic second half against Italy ended any chance of success for the Serbians.
On the court, it was a slightly different look for the Nuggets superstar. He played a more traditional center role, shooting from the paint most of times and without clear playmaker duties. The outcome? He shot over 70 percent from inside the arc, averaging 10 rebounds per game while still passing the ball at a great rate. A dominant performance that wasn’t enough to avoid an early exit.
Juan Hernangomez (Toronto)
Stats: 12.8 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.0 assists
His brother Willy won the tournament MVP, but the most unforgivable game in this Eurobasket may have come courtesy of Juan Hernangomez. In his first FIBA tournament since his celebrated actor debut, the new Raptor had ups and downs, especially on the offensive end. But a massive performance against France, finishing with 27 points and 7/9 from three, earned him the final game MVP award and a gold medal. Massive return for Spain after missing the last Olympics.
Simone Fontecchio (Utah)
Stats: 19.4 points, 4 rebounds, 2.7 assists
Despite Danilo Gallinari‘s injury, Italy was inches away from the semifinals, led by Simone Fontecchio. One of the top shooters in the tournament, the new Jazz forward shot 45.1 percent from three while attempting more than seven per game. Two free throws missed in the last seconds after France surely left him with a bittersweet taste, but he looked more than ready for the big stage.
Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (New York)
Stats: 17.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.8 assists
Before a nail-biting loss against Poland, Ukraine was among the tournament’s most pleasant surprises, including a win against Italy on its own turf. Leading the effort was Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, who raised his free agency value significantly with a solid performance… and not limited to his known long-range shooting abilities. Averaging 17 points despite shooting 34.1 percent from three and 2.2 steals on the defensive end was a great showcase to earn a contract with the Knicks.
Rudy Gobert (Minnesota)
Stats: 12.8 points, 9.8 rebounds, 1.0 assists
About to start a brand-new stage of his career in Minnesota, the polarizing Rudy Gobert gave reasons to support every good and bad opinion about him. His immense defensive presence grew as the tournament went on, single-handedly saving his team in close elimination games against Turkey and Italy. But in the final game, he was a shadow of himself, becoming close to irrelevant matched up with Willy Hernangomez as Spain defeated France.
Luka Doncic (Dallas)
Stats: 26.0 points, 7.7 rebounds, 6.6 assists
Many basketball fans discovered Luka Doncic back in 2017 during Slovenia’s magic run to the Eurobasket gold. Defending the title was not an easy task, though. Dealing with some wrist issues, the Mavericks star was inconsistent during the tournament, and a stunning loss against Poland sent the current champions home.
At times, Doncic was the most exhilarating player at the Eurobasket – especially during his historic 47-point effort against France, the top scoring mark in the tournament since 1957. But his last game, an upset vs. Poland in which he shot 5-of-15 from the field and watched the final minutes from the bench in frustration after fouling out, leaves a sour taste.
Bojan Bogdanovic (Utah)
Stats: 19.2 points, 5.2 rebounds, 1.7 assists
In his likely goodbye from the National Team, the best Croatian scorer of his generation had another bittersweet performance. At age 33, Bojan Bogdanovic averaged almost 20 points per game and was the undisputed go-to guy when his team needed it most, but fell short of contending for a medal once again. Still, he showed to have plenty of gas left in the tank in the face of an uncertain NBA future.
Evan Fournier (New York)
Stats: 15.3 points, 2.9 rebounds, 3.0 assists
The most talented French scorer was a constant danger for opponents. True to his NBA reputation, his shot was inconsistent in the tournament, finishing the Eurobasket with a 33.8 percent accuracy from three. But Evan Fournier‘s leadership and the constant attention he demanded were essential to give France another medal. His 20-point effort against Spain was a bittersweet ending for the Knicks guard.
Alperen Sengun (Houston)
Stats: 16.5 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists
The 20-year-old center is already one of the undisputed leaders of the Turkish National Team. With a bigger role than in Houston, Alperen Sengun showed at times his potential as one of the most skilled big men in the world, with polished footwork and good court vision. At the same time, it was not by chance his worst game came against France, loaded with experienced physical centers. His future is bright, but there’s plenty of room to improve.
Tyler Dorsey (Dallas)
Stats: 13.6 points, 2.3 rebounds, 1.1 assists
The new Mavs two-way player, whose mother is of Greek origin, started the Eurobasket with a bang, scoring 25 points on Croatia and 23 on Italy. He looked like a legit second star for Greece at times next to with Giannis. But after that hot streak, his numbers dropped. Tyler Dorsey only shot 35.9 percent from the field in the last five games of the tournament without making an impact in other aspects.
Goran Dragic (Chicago)
Stats: 14.9 points, 3.6 rebounds, 3.7 assists
The oldest European player currently in the NBA returned to the Slovenian National Team to defend the 2017 Eurobasket gold, where he was named MVP. Goran Dragic showed he still has some gas left. He averaged almost 28 minutes per game, including playing the full game against France, and took responsibility in clutch time even over Luka Doncic. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough.
Deni Avdija (Washington)
Stats: 14.6 points, 8.2 rebounds, 4.6 assists
The future looks bright for Israel, led by two 21-year-old players: Celtics draftee Yam Madar and Wizards’ Deni Avdija. The young forward started strong with solid performances against Lauri Markkanen’s Finland and Netherlands. The magic faded out a little, including a 5/16 shooting effort in the decisive game against the Czech Republic, but it was a glimpse of his potential to be a dominant player in FIBA competitions for years to come.
Vlatko Cancar (Denver)
Stats: 11.6 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.9 assists
Sharing the court with Luka Doncic and Goran Dragic, the Nuggets forward was bound to have a secondary role with Slovenia. But Vlatko Cancar made the most of it during much of the tournament. He was solid in defense and his effort was contagious. In the last game, with Doncic far away from his best Mavs version, Cancar took control and carried the team to a thrilling comeback after trailing by23, but felt short at the end.
Sandro Mamukelashvili (Milwaukee)
Stats: 15.2 points, 11.0 rebounds, 2.4 assists
Playing the group phase at home, Georgia and Sandro Mamukelashvili enjoyed one of the most surprising wins of the tournament, beating Turkey despite the absence of injured Goga Bitadze. The spiritual leader of the team was the Bucks’ two-way forward, who even heard some “Mamu” chants from the Tbilisi crowd. It wasn’t enough to make it to the Round of 16, but his physicality and competitive drive left a good impression at the Eurobasket.
Jonas Valanciunas (New Orleans)
Stats: 16.2 points, 10.5 rebounds, 1.7 assists
It was a mixed bag for the star of the Lithuanian National Team. Jonas Valanciunas looked dominant during some stretches of the Eurobasket, including a 34-point, 14-rebound performance against a tough team like Germany. But Valanciunas had a harder time against more physical frontcourts and was a non-factor in the decisive game against Spain after getting in early foul trouble.
Daniel Theis (Indiana)
Stats: 8.8 points, 6.1 rebounds, 1.3 assists
Ahead of an uncertain year on a rebuilding team like Indiana, Daniel Theis embraced a role in the Eurobasket akin to the one he has in the NBA. Strong frontcourt presence with some sporadic big moments on the offensive end. His chemistry with Dennis Schroeder, his teammate in Germany before they both made the jump to the NBA, was key for their successful run to the bronze medal.
Usman Garuba (Houston)
Stats: 4.7 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.6 assists
Coming off a disappointing rookie year in Houston, Usman Garuba gave a glimpse of the kind of player he can be in the NBA. Taking a Draymond Green-like role, the young forward was essential as a defensive disruptor while showing great court vision in both ends of the court. Without taking many shots, he helped Spain to an unexpected run to the Eurobasket gold
Ivica Zubac (LA Clippers)
Stats: 9.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 0.3 assists
The Clippers center had a nice Eurobasket start as the main reference in the paint for Croatia in a similar role as in the NBA. Ivica Zubac‘s consistency and effort on the boards as a role player was always appreciated, even if he didn’t have the production of other NBA bigs. His run had an abrupt end with a reported ankle injury he suffered only three minutes into the elimination game against Finland.
Cedi Osman (Cleveland)
Stats: 15.3 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.3 assists
In a more important role with Turkey, Cedi Osman showed strengths and weaknesses similar to what we see in the NBA. A talented and unpredictable scorer, he struggled from deep (29.3 percent) and didn’t make an impact in the elimination game against France with his teammate Shane Larkin out. He’s always a danger on the court, but still lacks the consistency to become one of the top players in FIBA competitions.
Dario Saric (Phoenix)
Stats: 9.2 points, 7.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists
Coming back after a year out due to a torn ACL in maybe the most competitive Eurobasket ever wasn’t easy for Dario Saric. He was understandably inconsistent, but showed to be ready for the upcoming season in Phoenix, even playing 33 minutes in the elimination game against Finland. His above-average court vision for a player his size is still there.
Jusuf Nurkic (Portland)
Stats: 16.2 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2.2 assists
Despite being placed in by far the toughest group of the Eurobasket, Bosnia was competitive until the end, led by former Nets forward Dzanan Musa and Jusuf Nurkic. Fresh off signing a long-term contract with Portland, Nurkic had to face the sorts of Rudy Gobert, Jonas Valanciunas and Daniel Theis. His numbers suffered a little against that kind of competition, but was always a tough matchup for stronger teams than Bosnia.
Domantas Sabonis (Sacramento)
Stats: 12.5 points, 7.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists
The two-time All-Star rarely lived up to his status in the Eurobasket. Domantas Sabonis didn’t make the best of his pairing with fellow NBA big man Jonas Valanciunas, and struggled to make a difference when the Pelicans starter faced foul trouble in the elimination game against Spain. He was still effective as a secondary scorer, but overall, a disappointing performance ahead of his first full season with Sacramento.
Furkan Korkmaz (Philadelphia)
Stats: 12.6 points, 2.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists
The most high-profile moment for Furkan Korkmaz in the Eurobasket was getting involved in a tunnel fight with several Georgian players, including Pacers center Goga Bitadze, following an ejection. He also missed a game due to back spasms. On the court, the 76ers guard was a key presence for the Turkish offense, but his bad shooting nights in the last two games of the tournament (10/29 combined against Spain and France) didn’t help his team.
Goga Bitadze (Indiana)
Stats: 10.0 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1.8 assists
Playing at home, the best-known Georgian player suffered an ankle injury in the first Eurobasket game. Goga Bitadze didn’t appear in the only win for his team, but had good moments on the court, particularly a 23-point game against Bulgaria. Probably not enough to get some extra confidence boost before the last year of his contract with Indiana.
Timothe Luwawu (Free Agent)
Stats: 4.9 points, 2.4 rebounds, 1.1 assists
A free agent after finishing last season with the Hawks, the French swingman didn’t waste a good chance to polish his resume. As the 3-and-D specialist for France, Timothe Luwawu helped the team in its run to the final, shooting 6/9 from deep in the three first elimination games of the tournament. In the final game against Spain, though, he barely played.
Marko Simonovic (Chicago)
Stats: 8.7 points, 4.2 rebounds, 1.0 assists
Despite being the only player with NBA experience in Montenegro, the 22-year-old center came mostly off the bench. Still, there were some promising signs from Chicago’s point of view. Marko Simonovic showed great physicality in the paint, especially against more established players like Daniel Theis or Alperen Sengun. It remains to be seen if that can translate into a long NBA career, but it’s a start.
Thanasis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee)
Stats: 3.0 points, 1.6 rebounds, 0.7 assists
On the court, Thanasis Antetokounmpo provided his usual physical and active defense. At the end of the Eurobasket, he almost accumulated the same amount of fouls (16) as points (21). Besides that, as in Milwaukee, he was a vocal cheerleader not only for his brother Giannis, but the rest of the Greek team.
Alex Len (Sacramento)
Stats: 8.0 points, 6.7 rebounds, 1.2 assists
One of the two Ukrainian NBA players. Considering his status, Alex Len didn’t have nearly the same offensive presence as his teammate Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk. His role was more similar to what we’ve seen in the NBA, doing the dirty work in the paint and occasionally showing his three-point range. At least, he delivered at that.
Vit Krejci (Oklahoma City)
Stats: 4.8 points, 0.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists
Only the most hardcore fans know Vit Krejci plays in the NBA, and probably not many Eurobasket viewers would believe the 22-year-old Thunder guard had seen some action there. He saw some extra action at first with Tomas Satoransky injured with decent results, but quickly became an afterthought in the rotation after the Czech star returned.
Theo Maledon (Oklahoma City)
Stats: 3.7 points, 0.7 rebounds, 1.0 assists
The loaded French team didn’t have much need for the young Thunder playmaker. Theo Maledon only played 26 minutes, including five DNP-CDs. Playing mostly trash minutes, he didn’t give many reasons to get extra time on the court, shooting 1/9 from deep. A medal and some experience in FIBA tournaments will be his best takeaways from the 2022 Eurobasket.