Nowitzki passing, Parker failing
As we hit the midway point of the European Championships, it's time to hand out grades for the NBA players balling for their national teams.
Dirk Nowitzki, Germany
Stats: 26 points, 13 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 2.0 steals and 1.7 blocks
The skinny: He isn't getting much help from his German teammates -- except for center Patrick Femerling, who's averaging 10 points and six rebounds -- but he takes it in his stride and does all it takes to lead his team to victory. In this case, that means scoring, scoring and more scoring. Because he's shooting so much, it's no surprise that his percentages are taking a hit (39.3 percent from 2-point range and 38.7 percent from downtown). Mark Cuban should consider giving him training camp off. This guy needs some rest.
Andrei Kirilenko, Russia
Stats: 16.7 ppg, 10.3 rpg, 2.0.apg, 3.6 spg, 2.0 bpg
The skinny:The stat line seems to say it all for the Utah Jazz forward. Needless to say, he leads his team in most statistical categories. The only glitch is an un-Kirilenko like 66.7 percent from the free-throw line. But he has led his team to the quarterfinal stages and that's all that matters.
Viktor Khryapa, Russia
Stats: 13.3 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 3.0 spg, 1.0 apg
The skinny: He is player on the rise -- both on the national team and in the NBA with the Portland Trail Blazers. He has a similar game to that of Kirilenko and has been steady so far in the tournament. He can do it all -- except maybe block shots like AK47.
Stanislav Medvedenko, Ukraine
Stats: 12.3 ppg, 4.3 rpg and 1.0 apg
The skinny: Slava can shoot. But Ukraine is not in the same league as the other three teams in Group A -- Russia, Germany and Italy. Had they played in another group, maybe Medvedenko would have shown something more. In my opinion, he wasn't the best player on his team -- he wasn't even its top scorer.
Sergei Monia, Russia
Stats: 4.3 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 1.7 apg
The skinny: Monia will join Khryapa in Portland this coming season. The rookie-to-be has had a tough time at the European Championships though. He has struggled to make his shots after a decent outing in the first game. Like Khryapa and Kirilenko, he has a well-rounded game.
Gordan Giricek, Croatia
Stats: 19.0 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 2.3 spg, 2.0 apg, 55.9% field-goal shooting
The skinny: The Utah Jazz guard has put up some serious numbers -- maybe he's trying to prove a point to coach Jerry Sloan that he should be a regular starter. Giricek has yet to have a bad night in this tournament, and has shown he can do more than just score.
Mario Kasun, Croatia
Stats: 9.7 points, 6.7 rebounds, 1.7 blocks per game
The skinny:The Orlando Magic's second-year center is making a strong case for taking over the starting spot from Kelvin Cato next season. He opened the tournament coming off the bench, but after a solid performance of nine points, eight rebounds and four blocks in 24 minutes against Bulgaria, he was inserted into the starting lineup and has maintained his scoring and rebounding numbers. He hasn't had any more blocks though.
Zoran Planinic, Croatia
Stats: 14.7 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 2.7 apg, 2.7 spg
The skinny: New Jersey's backup point guard is a valuable sidekick to Giricek. Planinic had an off-night shooting against Lithuania and has too many turnovers -- 4.7 turnovers per game -- but if he can cut those down, he will prove to other NBA teams he can be a starter. Playing on the same team as Jason Kidd is both good and bad for him; he can learn a lot but he can't put it to practice an awful lot.
Mehmet Okur, Turkey
Stats: 8.7 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 1.7 spg, 0.7 bpg
The skinny: The Utah Jazz center has struggled in this tournament. He scored in the single digits in two of three games and even in his best outing, could have had more than the 13 points he tallied, had he made more free throws (7-of-14). He is not rebounding nearly enough for a man his size. Maybe there's something about that air up there in Utah that helps Okur play well in the NBA.
Hedo Turkoglu, Turkey
Stats: 12.7 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 0.7 apg, 50% field goal shooting
The skinny: I'm a bit disappointed by the Orlando swingman. I've seen him play for the Kings and the Magic and although I don't question his scoring abilities, it's the way in which he doesn't use his size to hit the boards that really bothers me. And when you stand 6-foot-7, you should be able to grab more than three or four boards a game. In addition, Mr. Do-it-all -- as he is referred to in his biography on www.eurobasket2005.com/en -- is not doing it all. He's not involving his teammates and he's not making his shots from downtown.
Bostjan Nachbar, Slovenia
Stats: 13.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 1.3 apg
The skinny: The New Orleans Hornets swingman has shown he can provide what they have been missing since Jamal Mashburn, Baron Davis and David Wesley were traded -- some scoring punch. He is struggling from downtown, having converted only two of 13 attempts so far. But it shouldn't really be of concern, considering he shot 38 percent from the American 3-point distance last season.
Mickael Pietrus, France
Stats: 13.5 ppg, 3.5 rpg
The skinny:The Golden State Warriors swingman has only played in two of the three games, having to sit out the crucial encounter with Slovenia because of a knee injury. He played rather poorly against Greece -- then again, the whole French team did -- before going for 22 points and seven rebounds against Bosnia Herzegovina. He's had some struggles from the free-throw line, too.
Boris Diaw, France
Stats: 15 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 4.3 apg, 1.7 bpg, 1.3 spg
The skinny:The Phoenix Suns guard has picked up the slack for France as Tony Parker has struggled because of injuries. The Suns should be glad to see that he can score -- just not from the free-throw line (0-for-11 against Slovenia) or from downtown (4-for-22 in three games).
Primoz Brezec, Slovenia
Stats: 7.3 ppg, 4.3 rpg
The skinny: The Charlotte Bobcats center played well in Slovenia's first game against Bosnia Herzegovina, largely because San Antonio Spurs center Rasho Nesterovic struggled. Brezec had 16 points and nine rebounds in 25 minutes in that win, but since then has only played 19 combined minutes over the last two games, as Rasho has woken up. It's a shame they don't play the two 7-footers together.
Rasho Nesterovic, Slovenia
Stats: 6.7 ppg, 7.0 rpg
The skinny: The Spurs center made up for a sub-par performance in the opening game by leading the way in the win over France on Sunday. Rasho had a double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds and found the shooting touch that eluded him earlier in the tournament. Personal fouls and free-throw shooting are issues he needs to resolve before the quarterfinals.
Tony Parker, France
Stats: 4.7 ppg, 1.3 apg, 25.9% field-goal shooting
The skinny:The San Antonio Spurs point guard has probably been the biggest disappointment of the tournament so far. Although he has some injuries slowing him down at the moment, it's not known whether he's making any excuses himself. Back in San Antonio, Gregg Popovich might be worrying a bit.
Darko Milicic, Serbia Montenegro
Stats: 6.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg
The skinny: The Detroit Pistons backup center is having more of an impact than was expected of him. He isn't too concerned with getting his share of shots. His performance against Israel -- 11 points, seven rebounds and three blocks in 15 minutes -- should be shown to Flip Saunders (and Larry Brown) so that he knows what he has on his bench.
Jose Calderon, Spain
Stats: 12.7 points, 2.7 assists, 2 rebounds per game
The skinny: The Toronto Raptors rookie has been a joy to watch. His pass first, shoot last mentality is reminiscent of John Stockton.
Vladimir Radmanovic, Serbia Montenegro
Stats: 7.3 ppg, 3 rpg
The skinny: The Seattle SuperSonics forward's impact on his team is not reflected in his stats. It's the mismatches he causes that have helped Serbia Montenegro. He is tall, agile, athletic and strong enough to play inside and out. He is not the one-dimensional player I thought he was. There is more to him than just standing outside the 3-point arc -- at least when he plays for the national team.
Marko Jaric, Serbia Montenegro
Stats: 10.4 ppg, 4 apg, 2 rpg
The skinny: The Minnesota Timberwolves guard-to-be had an off-night against Spain in his team's opener, but recovered well to play a leading role in each of the following two games -- both wins.
Zeljko Rebraca, Serbia Montenegro
Stats: 6.3 ppg, 3 rpg
The skinny: The L.A. Clippers backup center has done most of his damage early in games, but foul trouble keeps him from logging substantial minutes. Also, Serbia Montenegro head coach Zeljko Obradovic might be trying to keep him fresh for the latter stages of this competition.
Nenad Krstic, Serbia Montenegro
Stats: 6.7 ppg, 4.3 rpg
The skinny: The New Jersey Nets center has been inconsistent. His only good performance was in the second game, when he had a double-double of 13 points and 10 rebounds in Serbia Montenegro's 93-77 defeat of Israel. But it seems he is losing the battle for playing time with Milicic.
PLAYERS WHOSE RIGHTS ARE OWNED BY NBA TEAMS
Robertas Javtokas, Lithuania
(Drafted No. 56 by the San Antonio Spurs in 2001; rights held by Spurs)
Stats: 10.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists
The skinny: He had a motorcycle accident in May 2002 and for 16 months didn't know if he would ever play, let alone walk again. ... Once won a slam dunk contest on a 12-foot basket. ... Left Arizona University because he got tired of sitting on the bench ... He is considered one of the best defensive centers in Europe and proved at last year's Olympics he could hold his own against NBA players. He has started all three games for Lithuania. A center averaging two assists per game in Europe is a rare thing, even more so in the European Championships.
Sergei Lishouk, Ukraine
(Drafted No. 49 by the Memphis Grizzlies in 2004; rights held by Grizzlies)
Stats: 14.7 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 1.0 bpg
The skinny: He's undoubtedly a talented player. A center which the Grizzlies could use right away, considering their lack of size following the departure of Stromile Swift this past summer. Led Ukraine in scoring during the group games. Free-throw shooting and fouls are areas of concern though.
Sani Becirovic, Slovenia
(Drafted No. 46 by the Denver Nuggets in 2003; rights held by the Nuggets)
Stats: 10.7 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 2.7 apg and 2.0 spg
The skinny: Had a lot of success as a junior player in Europe. Named MVP of the 1998 European Junior Championships before joining the senior team. He has been troubled by knee injuries in his career which he overcame recently to become a very good point guard with great shooting skills. Had a disappointing tournament. Scored in double figures only once, in game against France.
Vassilis Spanoulis, Greece
(Drafted No. 50 by the Dallas Mavericks in 2004; rights owned by Houston Rockets
Stats: 3.7 ppg, 1.7 rpg
The skinny: Figured as one of the role players for Greece in the first two games but barely took to the court against Bosnia Herzegovina.
Simon Wilkinson writes for The Press Association in Europe.
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