EuroBasket 2013: Marcin Gortat's run ends, Goran Dragic's begins


The three Phoenix Suns taking part in the 2013 EuroBasket event have all had their ups and downs. So far, Marcin Gortat has had the most downs, but he did go out fighting on Monday as Poland played Goran Dragic and Slovenia for nothing but pride.

Unfortunately, that has been one theme of Gortat’s career. He saved his best individual outing as Poland won its first game of five in the first round of Group C play. Gortat scored 19 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. He went 8-for-13 from the field in a 71-61 win against the Slovenian squad that, with the second round already in its sights, played Dragic just 18 minutes and veteran Bostjan Nachbar only 19.

Through the five games, Gortat averaged 10.4 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game. Not all of the blame falls on him, of course. Poland’s perimeter attack continuously struggled to threaten defenses that sent quick double-teams Gortat’s way. He recorded four assists in each of the first two games, but it was a familiar sign to see his shot attempts rise only when he was making buckets.

Gortat especially was shut down against Spain, playing 17 minutes and going 1-for-5 from the floor as the Spaniards routed his team by 36 points.

Dragic lays low in final first-round bout

In the loss to Spain, which was Slovenia’s second of the first round, Goran Dragic scored nine points in limited minutes. Italy had already earned the high-point mark of the Group F — the next round combines Groups A and B in Group E and Groups C and D in Group F. Because of that, there was little reason for Slovenia to push its luck with its best players.

Dragic finished with averages of 13.8 points, 5.0 assists and 3.6 rebounds per game. Two of the five games saw the point guard struggling with shot selection — he went 6-for-19 in a loss to Croatia — but there’s no question Slovenia wouldn’t be in position to beat Spain if Dragic hadn’t propelled them with a huge fourth-quarter.

Slovenia and Dragic play in a very interesting Group F. Italy is the only undefeated team of the 12 remaining squads, and they open second-round play against Slovenia on Thursday.

Kravtsov can’t find consistent minutes

Ukraine might be a darkhorse to go far in the EuroBasket tournament and in Group E joins France as the only team with a 4-1 record. One reason for the success of Mike Fratello’s squad has been its big man depth and the perimeter play of American Pooh Jeter.

Where recently-acquired Suns center Slava Kravtsov fits into that is hard to say. He has received from 14 to 22 minutes as a backup big and finished first-round play by averaged 7.4 points, 4.0 rebounds and a surprising 2.0 blocks per game. He is playing behind former Arizona Wildcats center Kyryl Natyazhko.

Ukraine will open the second round against Latvia on Wednesday.

Suns reportedly have interest in Royal Ivey

HoopsWorld’s Alex Kennedy reports the Phoenix Suns have interest in NBA journeyman Royal Ivey and could work him out. Ivey, a combo guard out of Texas, has proven to be a capable floor general and fine defender off the bench, but he doesn’t project to be anything other than a third-string point guard. With that slot already deep, the move could be a tiny hint at more moves upcoming. At the least, he could still earn an invite to camp.

  • http://none Sillmarillion

    Kevin, you wrote that “there was little reason for Slovenia to push its luck with its best players” in yesterday’s game vs Poland. That’s not true. First of all Slovenia played their best players, but what’s more important is that you don’t start all over again in these new groups (E and F), but you play on with the record you made in the previous groups. Keeping that in mind every single game is important in the Eurobasket and the loss to Poland made things much more difficult for Slovenia. Now they have to win at least 2 of their remaininig 3 games (or even all 3 games).

    As for the individual performances: Gortat and Dragic had ups and downs, but I think that some things are clear. Gortat needs to feel comfortable in order to perform. But once he gets his feeling he really can make a difference and excells to a higher level. Also, when there is a clear leader in the team Gortat feels and plays much better (i.e. Howard in Orland, Nash in Phoenix and Khelati in the game vs Slovenia). Gortat is a perfect No 2 player on any team, but he can’t handle the pressure to be number one.
    In my opinion Dragic has the same problem. While he can lead a team sometimes, he is not a real leader. He makes great assists and gets to the basket easily, but his permiter shooting is low. And he also needs to be in a good mood, otherwise his body language goes down and he starts to yell at his teammates.

  • Foreveris2long

    Good assessment Sillmarillon. I continue to believe both of these guys will be traded if a decent opportunity presents itself. I said yesterday I think Houston would love to have Dragic again but Lin’s contract is a huge hurdle for the Rockets. Dragic would be perfect for a team with 2 stars on the team in Harden and Howard. If I am not mistaken both the Suns coach and GM were present for the EURO games.

  • Scott

    It’s hard to credit the report of interest in Royal Ivey, unless McD is looking at a situation where Lee and Smith – knowing they are likely to be cut – are already aiming to join foreign teams and now the Suns lack surplus PGs for training camp.

    @Sillmarillion -

    Dragic is actually pretty good at shooting the 3 when he catches and shoots. Where he’s struggling is shooting the 3 off the dribble.

    So shile he’s a good playmaker, in a way Dragic is better as a shooting guard.

  • Scott

    ^^ Sorry, that should read “So while …”

  • Kevin Zimmerman

    Sillmarillion,

    I could be wrong, but the second round begins with a point system based on the previous round and with Italy sitting at 5-0 previously, Slovenia would have been stuck at three points even if they had won, from what I understand. Even with a loss more than Spain, they ended with the same point total. A number of teams already locked for the second round were holding back to rest their stars. See below.

    http://www.eurobasket2013.org/en/cid_8Xfg3jZMG1QuJnp6pnUWd3.pageID_iE88B1fbHFUH5bWYukNoF0.compID_qMRZdYCZI6EoANOrUf9le2.season_2013.html

  • Kevin Zimmerman

    Another thing: believe it didn’t hurt Slovenia because the record that carries over only includes those teams remaining. So they have a 1-1 record against Spain and Croatia.

  • pece

    Kevin is right on points. It’s a bit non-logical, but that’s how it is.

    Of course, Slovenia didn’t want to lose. They wanted to re-animate players, which showed less than expected. Crucial was beginning, a really bad start. Slovenia never lead in the game. They also tested zone defence, although it was evident that Polish players were very hot and relaxed at shooting.

    Gortat was also not in the mood at the beginning, but he changed feeling quickly with the lead. I think he also wasn’t doubled through the whole game. Anyhow, kudos to Marcin. We can hope, that we will see more this kind of games in next season from him.

    Goran of course is mentally labile and this tension is not team-mates friendly. But we all know, that sometimes this give him more strength. Goran can excels in predictable environment, with help with other skilled players. He can’t win by himself although there were a few exceptional examples. We can say that he would be best as secondary attack force, because he will always bring energy to the court. I could agree on that, if I would use concepts such as first or second player, point-guard or shooting guard etc. Now I see them as frames which can limit potential. I hope that Suns will become fluid, unpredictable, continuous threat. I imagine style which will look more like hockey game.

  • Ty-Sun

    Inviting Ivey to training camp makes some sense. At 31 he’s a 9 year vet with fairly low mileage that has a career 3pt percentage of .362. I’d say that he’s worth a look at training camp on a non-guaranteed contract.

  • Foreveris2long

    Kev and Pece, thanks for clarifying the playoff system.

  • http://none Sillmarillion

    Kevin, you are right. When I was writing my post I believed Poland is going into the next round as well and then my points would have been accurate. But that was wishful thinking… :/

  • Scott

    Fab Melo has been added to the training camp for Dallas.

    I’m thinking the Suns are better off than the Mavs, having accidentally acquired Kravtsov.

    Kravtsov > Melo

  • Michael

    Kravtsov is playing behind Kyryl? He struggled to get minutes in college at Arizona. That’s not good.