Friday, April 25, 2014
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EuroBasket 2013: Omer Asik, Nikola Vucevic among disappointing NBA players

It's difficult to compare the NBA game to the international one, but it's becoming more clear that the international game is catching up, especially in Europe.

The talent gap is shrinking. NBA stars are stars in international play, and at EuroBasket it's especially true. Marc Gasol is still an underrated defensive player and the Spanish offense still runs through him. In the same respect, NBA role players are also that at EuroBasket. Marco Belinelli is still a crazy shot taker who can put in 16 points a game if given the court time. And hey, if the supporting cast is good, he'll win a lot -- Italy has done just that with a duo of Belinelli and Luigi Datome.

But put a role player on a bad team and bad things happen. When we account for what the expectations of established NBA players were, here are those who disappointed in EuroBasket 2013.

Omer Asik, Turkey

Asik was in the top five of nearly every rebounding category from the 2012-13 NBA season. Seriously, take a look. But in 2013 EuroBasket play, Asik was very quiet for a Turkish squad that floundered and went 1-4 in five games. The Houston Rockets center didn't play more than 18 minutes in any contest and averaged 5.2 points and 4.4 rebounds per game. Asik's best performance, a 12-point outing, came against Italy.

Oddly enough, that game might have shed the light on why Asik struggled so much and played so few minutes. The perimeter-oriented Italian squad led by Spurs guard Marco Belinelli and Pistons forward Luigi Datome shot 11-for-19 from three-point range. Asik's lumbering about on ball-screen action probably didn't help put out that fuse.

Nikola Vucevic, Montenegro

After averaging a double-double for the Orlando Magic last season, the 22-year-old center didn't quite get the same type of playing time with his national team, which went 2-3 in the first round while failing to advance. Vucevic averaged 7.0 points and 4.0 rebounds in just 15 minutes per game, and he especially struggled from the field, hitting 39 percent from the floor. That's pretty bad for a guard, let alone a 7' center. In the NBA, Vucevic has shot 50 percent in his two-year career. Could it be that he missed having frontcourt mate Nikola Pekovic playing alongside him? Probably.

Omri Casspi, Israel

Casspi's NBA shooting percentages have dropped in each of his four NBA seasons. He was hitting 44.6 percent as a rookie with the Sacramento Kings but shot just 39.4 percent this past season with the Cleveland Cavaliers. The struggles continued into international play. One of the new members of the Houston Rockets hit 33 percent in five games for Israel and had quite the inconsistent EuroBasket experience.

Casspi's scoring totals went like so: 13, 6, 14, 2, 22. He never shot above 38 percent until his final, meaningless game against Germany.

Nicolas Batum, France

The French swingman is playing quality minutes and averaging 10.2 points and 4.6 rebounds per game. That's not necessarily bad, especially since France is doing quite well with Tony Parker leading the way. Batum playing within an offense is nothing new. Still, he is struggling by hitting just 4-of-24 from three-point range and his assist numbers are down from what you'd expect. If his performances say anything about him, it's that he's more fit for the NBA game. Or maybe we just expect more for a guy on a four-year, $45 million contract -- that's not to blame Batum for making money, though.

Hedo Turkoglu, Turkey

Yes, Hedo Turkoglu is still in the NBA. The Orlando Magic still haven't bought the aging forward out of his contract and it's looking more and more like he'll return to his homeland to play professionally next year. Nonetheless, Turkoglu played in three of Turkey's five EuroBasket games and struggled mightily. He went 5-of-28 from the field, including a final outing that saw him go 0-for-9.  He leaves with 7.3-point, 3.7-rebound averages.

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This article originally appeared on SBNation.

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