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16/04/2017
Jeff Taylor's Eurovision

The best point guards to watch at FIBA EuroBasket 2017

4 Milos Teodosic (SRB)
4 Milos Teodosic (SRB) - Serbia v Australia, 2016 Olympic Games: Tournament for Men (BRA), Rio de Janeiro - Carioca Arena 1 (Brazil), Group Phase, 8 August 2016

VALENCIA (Jeff Taylor's Eurovision) - You want to know why it's becoming harder and harder for players in the American collegiate ranks to make it in the NBA?

It's simple supply and demand economics. The demand for spots on NBA rosters has grown since 1992, when the Dream Team cruised to the Olympic title in Barcelona.

Twenty-five years ago, the USA Olympic side was amazing. It was, hands down, the greatest show on earth. No fan, or expert, considered the possibility that an opponent could beat that United States team that had Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and nine other sensational players.

European players watched in awe.

The basketball world is a very different place now. Internationals, particularly from Europe, still marvel at what NBA players can do. But they believe they're good enough to make the same kinds of plays in the NBA, too. Hence, the increased demand for spots on rosters.

With that in mind, think about the FIBA EuroBasket that's coming up this summer. Fans are going to show up in Finland, Romania, Israel and Turkey knowing they're going to watch some of the best players in the world, players of NBA caliber.

Which team will have the best chance to reach the top of the podium? If both Pau and Marc Gasol were certainties to play, your first reaction would be to say Spain. But they both played at the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup and hosts Spain were sent packing by a France team that was led by a little known point guard in Thomas Heurtel.

Heurtel, with the FIBA EuroBasket's all-time leading score Tony Parker having retired from international basketball after the Rio Olympics, should be one of the main men at FIBA EuroBasket this summer. I don't think it's out of the realm of possibility that Heurtel could find his way to the NBA. Remind me what he did last summer against the USA in Rio again? Oh yes, he had 18 points, 9 assists and 8 rebounds.

The point guards, as always, will be crucial at FIBA EuroBasket 2017. Some are in the NBA and others are with leading European clubs. Which one will end up being the best, or the most important? Here are the players you need to keep an eye on.

MILOS TEODOSIC - SERBIA

The first letter of the word magic is also the first letter for Milos. The long-time point guard of Serbia is in the midst of a Hall of Fame career, one that has seen him capture silver medals at FIBA EuroBasket 2009, the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup and the 2016 Olympics. He probably has the best chance of making the tournament's All-Star Five.

NANDO DE COLO - FRANCE

Teodosic's CSKA Moscow teammate is poetry in motion. If there is one player worth the price of admission, it's De Colo. With Parker now gone and Nicolas Batum electing to take the summer off, France is now De Colo's team. An All-Star Five selection at FIBA EuroBasket 2015, De Colo has a chance to take his performances for France to an even higher level.

DENNIS SCHRODER - GERMANY

Germany were for a long time the team of Dirk Nowitzki. Now a player with moxie, one with an "I'm ready to take on the world" character, Schroder, is set to be an international superstar. His ascent to stardom in the NBA with the Atlanta Hawks has been fast. Germany, who last reached the FIBA EuroBasket podium in 2005 when Nowitzki was the MVP, need a player of his assertiveness to rejoin the elite on the old continent.

GORAN DRAGIC - SLOVENIA

Ever since FIBA EuroBasket 2007, when this lightning-quick, full-steam ahead point guard lit up Europe with some dazzling performances for Slovenia, we expect only the best from Dragic. How far can Dragic take his country? It's going to be fun watching him.

PETTERI KOPONEN - FINLAND

A combo guard, Koponen loves the big stage. Remember the 2014 Basketball World Cup? Remember his performances at FIBA EuroBasket 2015? The fabulous Finn will be at home, this time, in Helsinki, leading the Susijengi. This should make the hair on the back of your neck stand up.

SERGIO LLULL - SPAIN

How do you not pick Ricky Rubio, who's been terrific of late, or Sergio Rodriguez, an All-Star Five selection in 2015, to be the guard to look out for when it comes to Spain? Easy. Llull has always had the trust of Sergio Scariolo, the coach that put the ball in his hands at EuroBasket 2009 when Spain had a late chance to beat Turkey in the second phase of that competition. We've seen Llull, who has said no to the NBA so far, do it over and over for Real Madrid. He's going to be big-time this summer for his country.

Jeff Taylor
FIBA

FIBA's columnists write on a wide range of topics relating to basketball that are of interest to them. The opinions they express are their own and in no way reflect those of FIBA.

FIBA takes no responsibility and gives no guarantees, warranties or representations, implied or otherwise, for the content or accuracy of the content and opinion expressed in the above article.

Jeff Taylor

Jeff Taylor

Jeff Taylor, a North Carolina native and UNC Chapel Hill graduate, has been a journalist since 1990. He started covering international basketball after moving to Europe in 1996. Jeff provides insight and opinion every week about players and teams on the old continent that are causing a buzz.