EuroBasket 2022 is in the books, and this year's tournament was
another reminder that a well-oiled team machine can still outlast
the brightest individual stars on the planet.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, Nikola Jokic and Luka Doncic instantly
made their countries favorites to win gold, and even had some of
the best supporting casts in the field. But the final four squads —
France, Germany, Poland and Spain — had one NBA All-Star on their
rosters combined. The bracket stage was a true display of just how
much basketball talent is spread around the globe.
These six particularly stood out with some remarkable
performances over three weeks. No former NBA All-Stars were
considered; they obviously were among the best of the best. The
following players might be less heralded in the United States, but
any basketball fan should appreciate the runs they put together at
Lorenzo Brown, Spain
Spain took home the gold medal against France behind 27 points
from Juancho Hernangomez. His brother Willy led the team in
per-game scoring across the whole tournament. But Spain does not
get to gold without Brown, an NBA castoff who has carved his niche
in Europe over the past several years.
The 32-year-old guard averaged 15.2 points and 7.6 assists per
contest. He dropped 29 points in a massive semifinal win against
Germany, then had 14 points and 11 assists in the title bout. His
veteran experience is apparent, and Spain creatively used Brown to
keep France on its toes by running him off of ball-screens and
mixing in pick-and-roll possessions. Brown in turn knew just when
and where his teammates would be when France rotated. The above
passes are exquisite; the third clip is my personal favorite.
Simone Fontecchio, Italy
For one last time in
#EuroBasket 2022: Pasta. Pizza. Fontecchio. 🇮🇹
Want to talk about an underrated offseason signing? The Utah
Jazz added Fontecchio, a 6-foot-8-inch wing, on a multi-year
contract this summer, and if Utah fans checked in on Italy, they
saw Fontecchio lighting it up beyond the arc. The 26-year-old
canned 45.1% of his 7.3 threes attempted per game and averaged 19.4
points across the tournament.
Fontecchio is simply an entertaining scorer. He can pull up from
long range with all sorts of dribble and spin moves and still get
into his sweet shooting stroke. He's a solid cutter and transition
player, and while not a highlight-reel dunker, he has an underrated
level of explosion. I really think Fontecchio's going to suprise
fans next season if the Jazz give him extended minutes.
Lauri Markkanen, Finland
Most U.S. fans probably picture Markkanen as your prototypical
stretch forward. At EuroBasket, he was so much
more. Markkanen was one of the tournament's most dominant players,
putting up 27.9 points and 8.1 rebounds while shooting 61.5% from
two-point range and 40.5% behind the arc.
Talk about emptying the bag — Markkanen was posting up, facing
up, flying off cuts, initiating with drives, stepping back and
finishing. He had a massive 43-point showcase against Croatia where
he appeared blatantly unstoppable. Maybe a run like this encourages
Utah to experiment more with Markkanen's usage stateside.
Dzanan Musa, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Once a first-round pick to the Brooklyn Nets, Musa fell out of
the NBA, but has settled in overseas. He averaged 21.4 points, 4.0
assists and 3.4 rebounds per game with his home country and really
applied pressure as a driver. Musa frequently went at bigs in
conservative coverages — including guys like Domantas Sabonis and
Jonas Valanciunas — with his combination of quick-twitch handle and
Musa also made a noteworthy 45% of his triples. He's never had
much of a three-point stroke up until last season in Liga ACB play,
but it seems the swingman is really developing confidence. Musa is
still just 23 and definitely has the ability to jump back into the
NBA should teams pursue him.
Alperen Sengun, Turkey
Turkey had a really fun run to the EuroBasket quarterfinals with
the 20-year-old fueling the success. Sengun is on the smaller side
of NBA centers, but against these opponents, he had more chances to
physically dominate and go to work in the post. His speed on some
of these spin moves is still incredible — just look at
Hernangomez's reaction after this first bucket.
Sengun stymied teams with his post play and interior passing en
route to 16.5 points per game. He's a secure cornerstone for the
Houston Rockets at this point. Sure, it's fair to wonder how
Sengun's skill set helps Houston once it reaches contender status.
But there's no denying Sengun is amazing, regardless of his age, as
a post scorer and passing big man.
Aleksandar Vezenkov, Bulgaria
"Sasha" Vezenkov only played five EuroBasket contests after
Bulgaria went 1-4 and missed out on the bracket stage. But he
deserves a shoutout because he absolutely dominated his matchups.
Vezenkov's box score line is bonkers: 27.0 points, 12.2 rebounds
and 2.2 assists while shooting 56.6% on twos and 40.5% on nearly 8
threes per game.
The perimeter scoring is frankly ridiculous. Vezenkov is more
than a stretch forward or a movement shooter. At 6-foot-9, he's got
a stable enough handle to threaten teams by putting the ball on the
floor. At the same time, he's got this absurd, quick lefty shot,
and can contort himself all sorts of ways without compromising his
The Sacramento Kings quietly acquired the rights to Vezenkov
from the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for the No. 49 pick in
this summer's NBA Draft (which became Isaiah Mobley). The
26-year-old reportedly won't come to the U.S. this summer, as he
looks to defend a Greek League title with Olympiacos Piraeus and
back up his All-EuroLeague First Team selection. But if you're
thinking of tuning into some European hoops, Vezenkov should be
considered a must-watch talent.