The 2019 FIBA World Cup has just concluded and we got a glimpse of the basketball landscape for the upcoming NBA season and next summer’s Olympic games. This summer has proven that the rest of the world has caught up with the United States in the development of the sport and how global the game has become this decade.
More than the overall success and excitement in Wuhan, China, several players also impressed in their roles with their national team. Some players were mere role players in NBA teams but they shined when they became the leading man in the FIBA World Cup.
Top Players from the 2019 FIBA World Cup
The FIBA World Cup 2019 MVP has delivered in bringing Spain their first gold medal since 2006. The new point guard for the Phoenix Suns, Ricky Rubio, averaged 16.4 points, 6.0 assists, 4.6 rebounds while shooting 43.6 percent from the field for the whole tournament. He became the All-Time FIBA World Cup leader in assists as well, passing Argentinian, Pablo Prigioni. His role with the Spanish national team was defined as the ballhandling playmaker. His primary goal was the distribute and kick the ball out to the open man whenever he drives. Together with Marc Gasol, Sergio Llull, and Juan Hernangomez on the team, the scoring load lessened for the MVP proving useful as Spain brought back the crown to Espania.
We already know how good Nikola Jokić can be being selected to the All-NBA first team. What we did not know though is how he can take the next jump in his improvement. Serbia won their group stage games by an average of 40.7 points before falling to Argentina. He shot 68 percent from the field, 80 percent from the line, and 40 percent from three-point territory for a center. In most games, the Denver Nuggets all-star did not even play in the fourth quarter in putting up these numbers.
The unsung hero of the World Cup. The 39-year-old power forward from Argentina was one of the big surprises in this World Cup. Luis Scola put up an average of 17 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 0.8 steals a game— earning him a “Mythical Five” spot this tournament. He led the charge for Argentina’s first international podium finish since 2004 in the Olympic games. The Argentinian team was a great Cinderella story this tournament as they had no NBA players on the roster and being led by a former NBA forward is something new in this modern age of basketball.
Besides his showing versus Argentina, Rudy Gobert impressed this World Cup. He showed why he was the reigning NBA Defensive Player of the Year and was key in defeating Team USA in the quarterfinal round. Gobert averaged 10.1 points, 9.1 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks for the tournament. Utah Jazz fans should be excited for their team if a wiser Donovan Mitchell, veteran Mike Conley, and a force like Rudy Gobert mesh well together. Barring any injuries or inconsistencies, expect the Utah Jazz to be a problem for NBA teams this season.
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