EuroBasket 2022: Goran Dragic and former Bulls players take center stage

Goran Dragic, EuroBasket 2022, Chicago Bulls (Photo credit should read OZAN KOSE/AFP via Getty Images)
Goran Dragic, EuroBasket 2022, Chicago Bulls (Photo credit should read OZAN KOSE/AFP via Getty Images) /

Although the competition is typically held bi-annually, EuroBasket will be returning for the first time since 2017 and fans are understandably getting excited over one of the most star-studded tournaments in the event’s history. Recent Chicago Bulls free agent signing Goran Dragic is set to defend his title, as he led Slovenia to win it all in 2017 and even took home the EuroBasket MVP award.

Dragic averaged 22.6 points across a nine-game slate that year, before lighting up Serbia with a 35-point masterclass performance in the finals. Dragic helped Slovenia win their first-ever EuroBasket championship and has helped the sport rapidly grow in his home country ever since.

He’ll have considerably more help this time around, as teammate Luka Doncic has ascended the ranks from teenage talent to become one of the greatest players in the world today. The competition won’t be easy, however, as winners of the last four NBA MVP awards Nikola Jokic and Giannis Antetokounmpo will be joining the fray for Serbia and Greece, respectively.

Dragic also won’t be the Chicago Bulls player in attendance, as Marko Simonovic is set to participate for Montenegro’s national team. We’ve already seen much promise from Simonovic this summer, and a strong showing internationally certainly couldn’t hurt Marko’s case for more minutes with the Bulls.

Representing Slovenia, fans of the Chicago Bulls will get their first chance to see if Goran Dragic can still play at a high level during EuroBasket 2022.

Games are set to begin today, September 1, and will run through the early hours of the morning into the afternoons. All games are set to be broadcast on ESPN+, a fortunate turn of events considering how it can often be difficult to tune into international games.

EuroBasket kicks off with 24 teams in the group stage before narrowing things down to 16 as teams enter the single-elimination knockout stage. There won’t be any seven-game series to fall back, and teams will have to put it all on the line if they wish to come out on top this year.

Plenty of former members of the Chicago Bulls will also be joining the fray, as Lauri Markkanen will headline Finland’s team and Tomas Satoransky looks to lift the Czech Republic to success. Daniel Theis will play for Germany alongside the player the Bulls could have drafted in 2021 in Franz Wagner, while Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot joins a stacked French team that features Rudy Gobert and Evan Fournier.

The Bulls may have been unsuccessful in their free agent pursuit of Danilo Gallinari and Niccolo Melli this past season, but it’s still unfortunate that we’ll never get to see the two play together following Gallinari’s meniscus tear.  Spain’s Hernangomez brothers ⁠— Juancho and Willy⁠ — will also be a joy to see play following Juancho’s film success alongside Adam Sandler in Hustle.

To put it simply, there are a plethora of reasons to watch this EuroBasket action. Even if you’re not interested in seeing the downfall of former Bulls players or role players turned movie stars, watching the quartet of Doncic, Jokic, Antetokounmpo, and Gobert duke it out is reason enough to watch.

But if Goran Dragic has anything to say about it, he’ll defend his status as reigning MVP and prove he’s the one you should have been watching all along. Slovenia tips off for their first game against Domantas Sabonis, Jonas Valanciunas, and the rest of the Lithuanian roster tomorrow (or today, if you’re reading this in the morning) at 10:15 am CT.

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