FIBA World Cup 2019: 5 European players to look out for
The 2019 FIBA World Cup begins in less than a week's time, and the tournament is gearing up to be one of the most competitive in recent history. While Team USA enter the tournament considerably under-strength, most of their closest competitors enter the competition at full strength.
Team USA's vulnerability was demonstrated earlier this week as they lost for the first time in more than a decade, and Gregg Popovich's team is likely to face plenty of competition from a number of well-equipped sides from Europe.
Additionally, while USA's biggest stars have withdrawn from the tournament, there are plenty of big names set to suit up for their closest contenders. So, as the anticipation for this year's World Cup builds, here are five European players to keep an eye out for.
#5 Frank Ntilikina - France
Frank Ntilikina was drafted by the New York Knicks with the 8th overall pick of the 2017 draft, and the young point guard has already amassed more than 120 regular-season appearances. However, Ntilikina has been heavily criticized for his lack of progress and has career averages of just 5.9 points, 3.1 assists, and 2.2 rebounds in 21.6 minutes per contest.
Nevertheless, while Ntilikina's future with the Knicks has been questioned, he remains a key component of a French team that is ranked third in the world. The 21-year-old has impressed in the France backcourt during five preparation games and his effort on the defensive end has been particularly praised.
With Dennis Smith Jr. ahead of him in New York, Ntilikina will be looking to impress ahead of a potentially pivotal third season in the NBA.