Well, we are finally here. The FIBA World Cup gives us competitive, high-level basketball starting Saturday in Spain.
Team USA is in the relatively tame Group C. Even without Kevin Durant and Paul George, the U.S. is expected to win the World Cup. The roster is heavily reliant on its fast break and 3-point shooting to generate offense. The defense will be key, but they have the talent to stand up to Spain.
Magic fans will be keeping an eye on one player in particular (and the little playing time he may or may not get). That would be France’s Evan Fournier.
The Magic acquired Fournier for Arron Afflalo shortly before the NBA Draft (or after the NBA Draft when the trade call was made). Orlando fans were a little confused at the acquisition. Fournier was a little used player in Denver and struggled to fit into Brian Shaw’s rotation last year. But he has some skill. He can play some point guard and small forward in addition to his natural shooting guard. He can hit the corner 3-pointer too.
That sounds like a player who should find a role with anyone.
Fournier is having a tough time cracking the French national team’s rotation so far in friendlies as the team prepares for the difficult Group A in the World Cup.
Fournier had two games where he scored 10 or more points in nine exhibition games. He averaged 5.9 points per game in eight appearances in the exhibition tour. He is not quite getting a whole lot of run.
In the exhibition games, Evan was mainly being used as an off-ball scoring threat to spread the court for others. He was always coming off the bench. I maintain that Fournier is best when he has the ball in his hands able to create for himself and others. That didn’t happen, which led to long stretches in contests where Evan barely touched the ball. He was never utilized in late-game scenarios when the team needed 3-point shooting. With that in mind, Fournier was 8-for-22 on 3-pointers (36.4%) during the exhibition tour. He averaged 5.9 ppg at around 13.5 minutes per game. Not bad, but we can expect better from the 21-year-old in his first senior men’s national team action. It’s all about if he’ll get the minutes he deserves. Look for Evan to play mostly backup shooting guard behind Batum.
It looks like Magic fans looking to see Fournier will have a tough time doing so the next few weeks. His minutes are going to be pretty limited. In other words, Magic fans will not quite know what Fournier is going to provide the team this upcoming season.
France plays a pretty difficult schedule too:
France is the reigning Eurobasket champions but will be playing without Tony Parker this summer. Nicolas Batum figures to be the team’s top player. And, as you can see from the schedule, Group A is not easy. Egypt and Iran probably will be going home early out of this group, but neither are going to be pushovers. Iran especially fares well in the Asian qualifying zone.
And the schedule does no favors with Brazil and Serbia up first. Not to mention host country Spain after a day’s rest (thankfully).
Fournier will have his opportunity to get some run in this tournament. But it is really looking like Fournier will be scrounging for minutes and doing what he can in limited action.
France should get relatively deep into this tournament. Even without Parker. Fournier will have his opportunities. The five games in six day schedule of the opening round can be really brutal. Teams will have to rely on their depth to get by in this tournament (another inherent advantage the United States has in this competition).
It is still really unclear exactly how the Magic plan to use Fournier. It will probably be a bit different than how France uses the 21-year-old wing player.
The next two weeks will give Magic fans a brief glimpse of their new wing player.