Former NBA players, stashed NBA draft picks all over World Cup rosters


We know the NBA players that fill out not only Team USA but other World Cup rosters are loaded as well — 45 guys currently on NBA teams will be playing in Spain. Guys like Goran Dragic suits up for Slovenia, or Rudy Gobert, Boris Diaw, Evan Fournier, and Ian Mahinmi will play for France. You get the idea.

But as John Schuhmann notes at, a there are also 23 guys who used to be on NBA rosters also are playing in the World Cup.

The biggest names among them are Carlos Arroyo and Renaldo Balkman (both of whom play for Puerto Rico), Rudy Fernandez and Juan Carlos Navarro (Spain), and Andres Nocioni (Argentina).

Schuhmann makes another interesting observation: There are 17 other players drafted by NBA players who have been stashed overseas who will also be on World Cup rosters.

There’s Croatia’s Dario Saric, who the 76ers picked up in the last draft. There is Raul Neto playing for Brazil and maybe someday the Jazz. Bogdan Bogdanovic will be part of a pretty good Serbian team and could someday play for the Suns.

Team USA still has more depth of talent than any other team in the world — but there is talent all over the globe now. The days of the USA cruising to gold are fading. Fast.

James Harden: “I am the best player in the league. I believe that.”

James Harden, Stephen Curry
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James Harden was the MVP last season — if you ask his fellow NBA players.

The traditional award (based on a media vote) went to Stephen Curry (in the closest vote in four years), and that was the right call (in my mind). But from the time it happened Harden did not buy it. And he still doesn’t buy it. In the least — and he’s using that as fuel for this season. That’s what he told Fran Blinebury over at

“I am the best player in the league. I believe that,” he said. “I thought I was last year, too.”

Well, it’s a more realistic claim than Paul George’s.

“But that award means most valuable to your team. We finished second in the West, which nobody thought we were going to do at the beginning of the year even when everybody was healthy. We were near the top in having the most injuries. We won our division in a division where every single team made the playoffs.

“There’s so many factors. I led the league in total points scored, minutes played. Like I said, I’m not taking anything away from Steph, but I felt I deserved the Most Valuable Player. That stays with me.”

That’s very Kobe Bryant of you to turn that into fuel. Defining the MVP Award is an annual discussion that nobody agrees on.

I could get into how Harden was the old-school, traditional stats MVP, how that ignores how Steve Kerr used Curry, and how that opened up the Warriors’ offense to championship levels. Curry put up numbers, but he was also the distraction, the bright star that Kerr used to open up looks for Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and others. Curry’s strength was not just what he did with the ball in his hands, but his gravity to draw defenders even when he didn’t. Did the Warriors stay healthier than the Rockets? No doubt. Should Curry be penalized for that?

It’s simple for Harden — if he can put up those numbers again, if he can be the fulcrum of a top offense, he will be in the discussion for MVP again. And, if he can lead the Rockets beyond the conference finals, nobody will talk about that MVP snub anyway.