CANDIDATE FOR THE TITLE
Nicolas Batum (LA Clippers / winger), 33, 15th season:
“Batman” has chosen to skip the Eurobasket, to better prepare for the championship. Because this season marks the expected returns of Kawhi Leonard, recovered from his rupture of a cruciate ligament, and Paul George, also weighed down by multiple injuries. Without them, the Clippers had failed in the qualifying play-offs. With them, they are among the favorites. “We are going to play to get to the end. It may be my only chance (…) to be able to do that, ”explained the Frenchman.
Rudy Gobert (Minnesota / pivot), 30 years old, 10th season:
After nine years in Utah, where title ambitions have never been tu, “Gobzilla” was transferred to the Timberwolves, in exchange for five players, plus four first round picks. In Minneapolis, the triple best defender in the league will have to strengthen in this sector a talented young team, which returned to the play-offs last season, after four years of absence. However, it is at this stage of the competition that Gobert has never been able to raise his level of play so far. Perhaps he will succeed alongside Karl-Anthony Towns, with whom he will form a duo of interiors scrutinized.
Evan Fournier (New York / back), 29, 11th season:
If he responded individually for his first year with the Knicks, breaking the franchise record for the number of three-point baskets scored in a single season, Fournier admitted to having “had a hard time really finding (his) role in the team, which finished a disappointing 11th in the East. Coach Tom Thibodeau nevertheless chose to keep the European Championship finalist in his five majors, appreciating his ability to “read the game very well”. “Vavane”, he promised to work twice as hard in defense.
ON THE BENCH
Frank Ntilikina (Dallas / leader), 24 years old, 6th season:
Last season, his coach Jason Kidd used him for what he does best: defend. A role he will keep. With the departure of Jalen Brunson to New York, he will be able to claim more minutes, if he progresses in attack in the shadow of star Luka Doncic.
Killian Hayes (Detroit / leader), 21 years old, 3rd season:
After a second season still below expectations, the highest drafted Frenchman in history (7th position) will have all the more pressure on his shoulders as the Pistons have again drafted a player in his position, Jaden Ivey. Coming off the bench, he will have to prove that he has the level to stay in the big leagues.
Ousmane Dieng (Oklahoma City / winger), 19, 1st season:
Drafted in 11th position by the Thunder, the rookie played a year with the New Zealand Breakers club. A first experience with the pros which could prove invaluable to stand out in the rotation of OKC.
“TWO WAYS” CONTRACTS
Théo Maledon (Charlotte / leader), 21 years old, 3rd season:
Dropped by the Thunder, not kept by the Rockets, the Frenchman hopes to bounce back with the Hornets. As required by his contract, he will play more with the reserve team in the G-League, the antechamber of the NBA, but will also be able to play matches in the big championship. Especially since the holder LaMelo Ball has just been injured.
Moussa Diabaté (LA Clippers / winger), 20 years old, 1st season:
Drafted in the 2nd round (43rd position), the rookie will wear the Ontario Clippers jersey more than that of Los Angeles, just to learn. But he was able to make an impression in preseason, with a stratospheric dunk against Denver.
Olivier Sarr (Portland / pivot), 23 years old, 2nd season:
After a convincing training camp, the Blazers decided to include the former Thunder in their squad. He too will be back and forth between the NBA and the G-League throughout the season.
Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot (Phoenix / winger), 27, 7th season:
After a season in half-tent in Atlanta, “TLC” had signed a contract with the Suns without guarantee of being kept. His efforts to perpetuate his presence in a training candidate for the title did not pay off. The Suns announced on Saturday that the winger was not selected. The Arizona franchise was rocked this summer by the case of Robert Sarver, its future ex-owner accused of racism, misogyny and sexism, pushed to sell the franchise
Killian Tillie (Memphis / pivot), 24 years old, 3rd season:
The Frenchman, who participated in the excellent season of the Grizzlies, carried by the phenomenon Ja Morant to the Western Conference semi-finals, was ultimately not retained. Jaren Jackson Jr’s injury could have allowed him to show off a little more, but he was “cut” on Saturday night just days before the season opener.