Alright, admit it. Football is pretty great. With the first week of games having just been completed, the NFL season is now fully underway. And while this may offer a well-deserved reward for the most die-hard of sports enthusiasts who’ve endured months without one of their favorite pastimes, we’d just like to remind you that there’s this little tournament called FIBA EuroBasket going on right now, just in case the arrival of the pigskin doesn’t quite quench your thirst of months without the roundball. That’s right people. Whether it’s here on the homeland or international tournaments around the world, our great sport of basketball isn’t too far away, no matter how long the “offseason” may seem.
As took place in September of last year, prior to the Warriors’ breakthrough season, numerous players have showed up in Oakland at team headquarters to participate in voluntary workouts and re-familiarize themselves with their teammates, both old and new. If you’re a Dubs fan, that’s great news. There was something about last year’s squad that just seemed to have an unequaled chemistry, which undeniably assisted them greatly throughout their playoff run. This year, the Warriors certainly won’t be sneaking up on any of their opponents, so to see that the team remains committed to developing any advantage possible, you have to feel good about the promising outlook of the season ahead. Much of that optimism undoubtedly revolves around the several interesting roster additions the team has made since the conclusion of last season. Andre Iguodala will likely be a frequent subject of our blogs in the coming months, no question about that. Then of course there is the potentially heartwarming pairing of the now undeniable superstar Stephen Curry with his younger brother Seth. But for the time being, there’s one guy whose ongoing progress needs some attention. That guy happens to be recent first round pick Nemanja Nedovic, who’s currently starring on the Serbian National Team in FIBA EuroBasket 2013.
Despite their 83-76 loss at the hands of the Montenegrins, Serbia has advanced out of pool play as the top seed from Group B, and Nedovic has had plenty to do with their initial success. But, before any detractors point out that the competition isn’t necessarily equal to that of the NBA, let us assure you that there are plenty of NBA players in this tournament, including guys like Tony Parker, Goran Dragic, Nikola Vucevic, Jonas Valanciunas, and more. So keep that in mind before you jump to conclusions.
About Nedovic…he’s been pretty much as advertised. There wasn’t a whole lot of tape on him leading up to the June Draft, but he’s changing that in a hurry. As promised, his best attribute is undoubtedly his athleticism, as he’s proven time and again with deft moves through the lane and some thunderous dunks. Just ask the Macedonians:
Following today’s game, Nedovic ranks fourth on the team in points and first in assists per game with 10.0 and 3.0, respectively. But when evaluating a player like Nedovic in a tournament like this, it’s arguable that it’s more important how he looks, rather than the stats he puts up. If so, Warriors’ fans should be encouraged. Aside from his undeniable ability to get into the lane and finish with authority, Nedovic has proven himself a decent outside shooter, and possibly more important when you consider the current make-up of the Dubs’ roster, an aggressive defender. Typically, European guards aren’t necessarily regarded for their defensive prowess, and while Nedovic may not necessarily change that, he certainly has shown flashes of that ability, playing some relentless full-court press while showing good instincts in jumping passing lanes for steals (which, in turn, lend to his spectacular dunks). He also has displayed a tendency to leak out on controlled rebounds to create advantageous fast break opportunities. For a player with his offensive skill set, those kinds of scenarios are going to make him awfully tough to stop, so as long as he doesn’t lose sight of his defensive responsibilities, he could add yet another effective dimension to the Warriors’ already-balanced offensive attack.
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||27||11||4||6||1|
|F.Y.R. of Macedonia||25||11||1||0||1|
|Ukraine||9/13 @ 8:45 AM (PST) (TV: ESPN360)|
|France||9/15 @ 12:00 PM (PST) (TV: ESPN360)|
Again, results are probably less important than impressions, at least in the hearts and minds of the Dubs’ Faithful, and while we should probably all cheer on the Serbs for more chances to see our newest rookie, realize that he’ll likely be utilized quite differently than he has on his national team once he puts on one of those iconic Warriors’ jerseys. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. After all, he is a rookie, so the less he’s asked to do, the more likely he is to be effective in that particular role. We don’t know how the roster is going to shake out, but chances are, we’ll be seeing sporadic doses of Nedovic’s high-flying antics throughout the season ahead. Temper your expectations, but don’t be shocked if he steals the spotlight from time to time. That’s about as much as you can ask of the 30th pick in the draft, and if that’s what the Warriors get from him, they’ll likely be quite pleased.
Less than three weeks till training camp, four till the first preseason game, and seven until the season opener. Don’t worry Warriors’ fans. The return of your beloved roundball isn’t that far off.