It's no secret that the Spurs are loaded with international players who come from places all over the world. Some of these players have participated in games with their national teams for many years, while others are being introduced to a once in a lifetime opportunity. With the FIBA and Eurobasket tournaments currently running in Venezuela and Slovenia, five Spurs (Marco Belinelli, Tony Parker, Boris Diaw, Nando de Colo, and Cory Joseph) represent three countries (Italy, France, and Canada) and have gone up against some tough competition - albeit not NBA-level. Let's see what the media has to say about some of their individual performances.
Marco Belinelli has been tearing it up in Slovenia with his FIBA play for Italy, averaging 15.8 points, 4 rebounds, and 1.3 steals per game so far. Dazzling the crowd with brilliant plays like this and this, Belinelli has looked fantastic in his summer play and people have definitely taken notice. Sheridan Hoops' AJ Mitnick published his thoughts on Belinelli's contributions to Team Italy. Here is a short excerpt from his article, which is a good read if you want to see what Belinelli can bring to the table for the Spurs and an analysis of all of the competition at Eurobasket.
A transformed Marco Belinelli will be the leader, after having a breakout performance with the Bulls this past postseason before moving to the Spurs this summer. Belinelli is an outstanding shooter who has significantly elevated his overall game with his newfound confidence, and he could very likely use this tournament to start his campaign to be Popovich's starting shooting guard on opening night.
Nando de Colo and the Spurs seemed to have a sort of falling out at the end of last season. Against weaker competition in these international games, de Colo should be performing well, but he has been as inconsistent as ever. Cody Williams over at Rant Sports has also taken note of this, and his article is worth checking out if you want to see a solid analysis of de Colo's summer performance, which includes this interesting fact:
Still largely playing behind Parker for France, de Colo has averaged 20.6 minutes per game over the five games he's played in the tournament. In those games he has averaged 7.6 points, two rebounds, one assists and 1.4 steals per game. The most perplexing part about de Colo's performance is the fact that he has shot only 22.2 percent on two-point attempts in the tournament, but has shot a fantastic 52.9 percent from long-range.
De Colo has lost his role as the backup point guard, and Cory Joseph may be the current owner of that spot. Aside from a few injuries along the way, Joseph has been quite impressive with the Spurs' Summer League and with Team Canada in Venezuela. James Herbert recently summarized Joseph's career in a piece for SB Nation that gives a lot of details most Spur fans may not know about Joseph. It includes information on Joseph's progress this offseason:
In four games in the preliminary round of the FIBA Americas in Caracas, Joseph averaged a team-high 16.5 points, 5.8 assists and 2.0 steals per game. Those marks are all top-5 in the tournament. He also averaged 6.5 rebounds, more than any other guard. More importantly, he's taken a leadership role despite being the youngest player on the roster.
"Last year he was quiet, two years ago he was like a church mouse," national team veteran Jermaine Anderson said. "And now he's come in and he's one of the loudest guys on our team. He's coming out of his shell and it's good to see."
While I haven't seen too many international games this offseason, I did see Canada battle the Dominican Republic in a close game. Joseph did a great job of playing aggressively on offense and defense. He did pull some ticky-tack foul calls along the way, but the way he pushes the ball after a make or miss on the other end is an encouraging sign for Spur fans.
So, what do you guys think? Can de Colo become a solid bench contributor for the Spurs next season? Should we be encouraged by Joseph's strong play in the Summer League and in the FIBA Americas? Will Belinelli shake the inconsistent tag that's followed him around the past few years?