The 2022 Eurobasket tournament is going to be the most exciting non-NBA basketball event in quite some time, with arguably the three favorites for 2022-23 NBA MVP honors participating, along with a slew of other high-level players in the event.
Some of the other players taking part in the tournament, by the way, may not be NBA stars, but they elevate their play to a great extent in FIBA competition.
To help preview the exciting showcase, we decided to rank the Top 15 players in the tournament, arguably the 15 likeliest men to win best-of-the-tournament honors when all is said and done.
This was voted upon by a panel of our writers and editors so without further ado, let’s get right into the action.
Shane Larkin (Turkey) 🇹🇷
FIBA accolades: Two-time EuroLeague champion, 1st Team All-EuroLeague, 2nd Team All-EuroLeague
One-half of one of the best backcourts in EuroLeague history (his backcourt mate is coming up later on this list), Shane Larkin was in the NBA for a cup of water but has made his star while playing in Europe, where he has become arguably the best point guard on the continent. Larkin is coming off of back-to-back EuroLeague championship runs and was named to the All-EuroLeague 1st team for his contributions last season. Lightning quick with good ball-handling as well as the ability to stop on a dime to hit shots to go with bombastic three-point shooting, Larkin is going to open a lot of American eyes while suiting up for Turkey in Eurobasket. Basketball fans who don’t get to watch much European hoops are about to get a show from Larkin this summer.
Cedi Osman (Turkey) 🇹🇷
FIBA accolades: FIBA Europe Under-20 Championship MVP (2014), Albert Schweitzer Tournament Most Talented Player (2020)
Although he’s an NBA player while Larkin is not, Cedi Osman should slot into his usual complementary role while suiting up for Turkey in Eurobasket, slashing off the ball, knocking down spot-up threes and running the floor hard in transition while giving high defensive effort. Still, Osman will be more of a focal point than he usually is for the Cleveland Cavaliers, so this will be a good chance for NBA fans to see a more confident version of Osman.
Jusuf Nurkic (Bosnia and Herzegovina) 🇧🇦
Although he’s a talented, productive player in the NBA as is, Jusuf Nurkic is even more monstrous while wearing his national team colors, the complete focal point for a solid Bosnia and Herzegovina squad that already impressively defeated France last week in an important World Cup qualifier. In the contest, Nurkic – a bruising big man who scores in the post on smooth moves with soft touch while setting bone-crushing screens and creating for teammates – had 21 points, nine rebounds and four assists against a frontcourt that featured a player coming up pretty high on this list. Oh, and he also had this monster dunk over former NBA big man Vincent Poirier:
Jusuf Nurkic posterizes Vincent Poirier 🔥 pic.twitter.com/XdHgAGzmNz
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) August 27, 2022
Nurkic should be one of the most fun big men to watch at the upcoming Eurobasket.
Bojan Bogdanovic (Croatia) 🇭🇷
The sharpshooting swingman for the Utah Jazz Bojan Bogdanovic will be Croatia’s most important player at the 2022 Eurobasket along with Dario Saric, who is returning from a long, ACL-related injury layoff. Bogdanovic’s quick release, smooth jumper and face-up scoring are even more difficult to slow down in FIBA competition; it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Croatian wing lead the tournament in scoring, in fact. If that does happen, it would not be the first time Bogdanovic leads a major FIBA tournament in scoring, as he put up 25.3 points on 50.6 percent shooting at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Vasilije Micic (Serbia) 🇷🇸
FIBA accolades: 2017 Eurobasket silver medal (2017), U19 World Cup silver medal (2013), U18 European Championship silver medal (2011), two-time EuroLeague champion, EuroLeague MVP, two-time EuroLeague Final Four MVP, 1st Team All-EuroLeague, two-time 2nd Team All-EuroLeague
The second half of the nasty Anadolu Efes backcourt along with Larkin, Vasilije Micic will be one of the most fun players to watch in the tournament for the American basketball fans who don’t watch much EuroLeague action. Micic is a high-IQ guard who plays with loads of swagger, nailing step-back shots from all over the floor, playing at his own pace and setting up teammates for good looks. He’s got great size for a guard, too, with a game reminiscent of a poor man’s Luka Doncic, as our own Dionysis Aravantinos wrote a few months ago. The No. 2 option on a strong Serbia team, Micic could be the late-game, go-to option for the country with gold-medal expectations at the 2022 Eurobasket.
Franz Wagner (Germany) 🇩🇪
One of the top rookies of the 2021-22 NBA season hits the hardwood to represent Germany at the upcoming Eurobasket tournament as Franz Wagner should continue to open a lot of eyes with his play. A smooth wing with great size, Wagner can do a bit of everything on offense, be it score around the basket or from three, create, run pick-and-rolls as the ball-handler and roll man, or whatever else may be asked of him. He may not do any of those things at an elite level – yet, at least – but Wagner is smooth and versatile and will be an important piece for Germany’s chances of advancing in the tournament.
Evan Fournier (France) 🇫🇷
FIBA accolades: 2020 Tokyo Olympics silver medal, three senior team bronze medals (2014, 2019 World Cups and 2015 Eurobasket)
One of the aforementioned players who takes their game to a higher level while playing for their national team, NBA fans who haven’t gotten a chance to see FIBA Evan Fournier in action are in for a surprise this summer, as the guard’s confidence on the court is through the roof when he plays for France. A high-level scorer in FIBA from all three levels, Fournier will be tasked with getting buckets for a loaded French team that has to have gold on its minds at the 2022 Eurobasket tournament.
Jonas Valanciunas (Lithuania) 🇱🇹
FIBA accolades: U19 World Cup MVP (2011), two senior national team silver medals (2013 and 2015 Eurobasket), four youth national team gold medals
The FIBA style of play, with more ball movement and less guard-centric attacking styles, suits Jonas Valanciunas wonderfully, as he is often tasked with finishing plays out of the low post, an area in which he thrives – even in the NBA. Forming one of the strongest frontcourts in the tournament along with a player coming up later on our list, Valanciunas and Lithuania are considered by many one of the dark-horse favorites to win the event thanks to an elite frontcourt and years’ worth of experience playing together in FIBA competition.
Lauri Markkanen (Finland) 🇫🇮
Lauri Markkanen and Finland may not be tournament favorites, but they will certainly sneak up on teams who aren’t careful and that’s in no small part thanks to Markkanen’s prowess in this setting. As proof, just look at his last two outings in World Cup qualifying competition: 42 points on 22 shot attempts against Ukraine followed up by 28 points and nine rebounds against Great Britain, two crucial wins for Finland. Markkanen uses his outstanding jumper as his biggest weapon in FIBA play but adds an element that he doesn’t use as much in the NBA, and that’s face-up isolation scoring. Markkanen will be a fun player to keep an eye on in the upcoming tournament.
Dennis Schroeder (Germany) 🇩🇪
He’s had his ups-and-downs in his NBA career despite clearly belonging in the top basketball league in the world. However, in FIBA play, Dennis Schroeder’s place is without question, as the German guard is one of the top score-minded ball-handlers in international competition. Schroeder uses his quickness to get to the rim in transition in the halfcourt well, as well as a solid – albeit streaky – outside jumper to force opponents to guard him out to the three-point line. Although Moritz Wagner will miss the competition due to injury, the young Wagner brother who we already talked about will offer Schroeder more help than he’s used to in FIBA competition, making Germany another dark horse to make a run at gold. That, plus the fact Schroeder remains unsigned to a team, will give the 28-year-old added motivation to put up a strong performance in the upcoming tournament.
Domantas Sabonis (Lithuania) 🇱🇹
FIBA accolades: Silver medal with senior national team (2015 Eurobasket)
With already one silver medal on his mantlepiece at home and pairing up with another top NBA big man, Domantas Sabonis will be one of the top players at the 2022 Eurobasket competition. Sabonis is a beast in the post who likes to go to his left hand to knock down hook shots, who can also face-up to knock down midrange jumpers or to drive by slow-footed foes. He’s also a great rebounder and an underrated playmaker. The only question is: How will Sabonis fit alongside Valanciunas, a very similar paint-focused center?
Rudy Gobert (France) 🇫🇷
FIBA accolades: One senior-team silver medal (2020 Tokyo Olympics), three bronze medals (2014, 2019 World Cup and 2015 Eurobasket)
With France as loaded as it is with top NBA talent, including all-world center Rudy Gobert, it’s disappointing that the team hasn’t tasted gold at the senior-team level since the 2013 Eurobasket tournament. That’s something that Gobert and Co. would love to change this summer. France, behind Gobert’s elite defensive play and top-notch pick-and-roll finishing, will have as good of a shot as anyone to win this showcase. Fun fact: It was actually in FIBA play, way back in the 2014 World Cup, where Gobert had his coming-out party, dominating the Gasol brothers en route to a 65-52 win for France over a favored Spain squad in the quarterfinals, going for five points, 13 rebounds and a block, doing so as a 22-year-old.
Nikola Jokic (Serbia) 🇷🇸
FIBA accolades: One senior national team silver medal (2016 Rio Olympics), one youth national team silver medal (2013 U19 World Championship)
The two-time reigning NBA MVP actually checks in at No. 3 on our list, which isn’t meant as a slight to Nikola Jokic but moreso speaks to how loaded the competition will be and to how much more of the load the next two players on our list are going to be counted upon to carry for their countries. That’s not to say Jokic – one of the best low-post finishers in the world who can knock down shots from all over the floor, rebound with the best of them and pass with aplomb unheard of for centers – won’t be the focal point for Serbia, but he will have more help around him than the next two players will on their national teams, including from Micic. Jokic has taken a bit of heat from Serbian fans for skipping the last few national tournaments but he’s back this summer and could take his country to gold status, which would make those relative slights all but forgotten.
Luka Doncic (Slovenia) 🇸🇮
FIBA accolades: One senior national team gold medal (2017 Eurobasket), FIBA Intercontinental Cup champion (2015), EuroLeague championship, EuroLeague MVP, 1st Team All-EuroLeague
Luka Doncic already has one gold medal at home from his contributions to Slovenia’s championship at the 2017 Eurobasket. Could this summer make it two for the Dallas Mavericks superstar? If it does, it would be Doncic leading the way this time, however, as in 2017, it was Goran Dragic (who is also suiting up for Slovenia in the 2022 Eurobasket) who was the Batman to Doncic’s Robin. Doncic was vital to Slovenia winning gold that summer, too, though, as he was named to the All-Tournament team, posting 27 points and nine rebounds in a quarterfinal win over Latvia and 11 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists in a huge semifinal win over Spain.
Giannis Antetokounmpo (Greece) 🇬🇷
Giannis Antetokounmpo, despite his loads of NBA accolades and the championship ring he won in the toughest league in the world, hasn’t tasted much FIBA success yet, something he will surely hope to change at the 2022 Eurobasket. With his physical advantages, the Greek Freak should be able to put up Wilt Chamberlain-like numbers in this competition, as he already did last week during the World Cup qualifiers with Greece when he dropped 40 points against Serbia (albeit in a loss) and 26 points against Belgium. The team’s new head coach, Dimitris Itoudis, has made Antetokounmpo more of a focal point than Thanasis Skourtopoulos did at the 2019 World Cup where Greece struggled, and the numbers have born that out.
Giannis Antetokounmpo in four games with Greece (two prep games, two official FIBA WC qualifier games):
— Dionysis Aravantinos (@AravantinosDA) August 29, 2022
The Greek team will be beastly from a physical perspective and could boast the tournament’s toughest defense. It’ll come down to Antetokounmpo, however, if the country can medal at the senior national team level for the first time since 2009, as he’s going to need to be his NBA MVP-level self for Greece to take down some of 2022 Eurobasket’s other loaded squads in the knockout rounds.