Nikola Jokic and Serbia were eliminated from Italy immediately after the group stage. Giannis Antetokounmpo was happy for Greece until the quarter-final loss to hosts Germany. Luka Doncic exploded with 47 points in his group stage win, only to see Slovenia stunned by Poland in the quarter-finals. The latest NBA star was Rudi Gobert, whose French side suffered a shock 88-76 loss to arch-rivals Spain in Sunday’s gold-medal match in Berlin.
It was a defining victory for Spain coach Sergio Scarillo, who is overseeing the youth movement after the retirements of Pau Gasol, Marc Gasol and Sergio Rodriguez last summer. Toronto Raptors forward Juancho Hernangomez picked up the torch with 27 points and seven three-pointers against France, while his brother Willie Hernangomez of the New Orleans Pelicans won the Player of the Tournament award. Spain handed the Nick Saban equivalent of leading Alabama to a national title after losing the quarterback and entire defensive line in the NFL draft. This was not supposed to be their year, and yet the first European program triumphed anyway.
For Joubert, the NBA watchers are keen to gauge his play then Polarized trending trade Which she sent from the Utah Jazz to the Minnesota Timberwolves in July, the story was neither tidy nor inspiring. Indeed, EuroBasket has proven to be a reminder that extracting the maximum value from Gobert’s skills as a shot-stopper, layman, and finisher enforcer requires well-crafted strategies and a proper group of teammates to cover his limits.
Three-time Defensive Player of the Year has claimed all-around titles alongside Antetokounmpo and Dennis Schroeder averaging 12.8 points and 9.8 rebounds over nine games, but he made precious little impact against Spain. Goubert finished in just 6 points, six rebounds and two blocks in 27 minutes, as France fell into a 21-point hole in the first half and never recovered.
Unlike Jokic, Antetokounmpo, and Doncic, to take three comforting examples, Gobert lacks the offensive skill set needed to pull the team through the mid-quarter slack, to consistently prepare teammates for an easy look, punish mismatches on the block, to extend his defense with an outside shot or take over a match Converging with the fourth quarter dash. France needed at least some of these qualities with their attack on Spain, but the 30-year-old Joubert, who has been chasing a gold for the national team after taking a silver at the 2020 Olympics and two bronzes at the Basketball World Cup, was easily frustrated. .
Seeking to engage Joubert offensively, France regularly deployed him near the free-throw line, hoping to use him as a spreader with high and low configuration. But Joubert committed two of his three laps via forced passes, a constant theme for the French, who made 19 turns on the night.
“Our weakness is turning the ball around since the start of the tournament,” said France coach Vincent Collet. “[Spain] Score 35 points from our turnover. We recorded seven of them. What do we say? This number is enough to tell you about this game. We are alive [overtime games] Against Turkey and Italy, and we could have already died because of these transformations.”
In contrast, France turned to New York Knicks goalkeeper Evan Fournier, who finished his team with 23 points but had little success in a double match with Joubert. In Utah, jazz coach Quin Snyder engaged Gobert as a screen selector and pick-and-roll target, with shooters deployed around the bow to give him as much room as possible to work. Spacing in international play is hard to come by, and Joubert spent most of the night lost in a sea of Spanish inland defenders.
Rather than challenging Joubert outright, Spain succeeded in neutralizing his defensive influence with a methodical, cautious attack and off-court shot. By switching to spreading formations and moving the ball in front of France’s defense, Spain produced a high-quality surround look and driving lanes once Joubert was kicked out of the paint. Of course, Joubert faced similar strategies in the NBA playoffs, when opposition fouls forced him to move as far as possible and guard the smaller, faster ball players in space.
The takeaway for the Timberwolves, who parted ways with four first-round picks and a group of players to land Gobert, is simple and profound: Their new position can quickly look deadly without the right support systems and staff.
Utah was able to get a leading attack with Joubert by keeping three or four capable shooters in the field with him at all times, and by bombing away. This is promising news for Minnesota, which was the only team to attempt three more throws than Utah last season. Karl-Anthony Towns, Anthony Edwards and D’Angelo Russell are big-box shooters who should allow Jubert to roam freely around the basket, where he’s most comfortable.
Russell would have the added burden of feeding Joubert in a pick-and-roll game, though both Towns and Edwards are naturally linked as first-point players. Meanwhile, Edwards and Russell must act as boatmen in Minnesota, masking Joubert’s lack of shot-making and dribbling skills. While there is still a lot to work on, the attack ceiling in Minnesota is very high.
Defensively, Towns and Gobert will continue to find themselves targeted by opponents who want to tire them out, tempting them out of positions and getting them into trouble. The fate of the Timberwolves after the season could still hang on whether the two big men can move around well enough to contribute to a functional perimeter defense. After all, Utah conceded 15.5 three-pointers per game in their first-round loss to the Dallas Mavericks — nearly twice the Jazz average — and France allowed Spain to score 15 points to 31 outsiders on Sunday.
Gobert’s dribble has the potential for his first Minnesota playoff series win since 2004, and possibly more. To reach those heights, the Timberwolves must consider flipping France and glimpse Gobert as the piece who can propel them to the top, rather than claiming to be the savior of the franchise.