Coming off of their title as the Champions of Europe, the French players of the NBA head back onto the court for a new season. There’s ten total who represent the largest group of French expats in the American professional league.
The undisputed, impossible to beat boss, Tony Parker aka TP is starting his thirteenth season with the San Antonio Spurs, a five-time crowned All-Star. At 31 years old, he’s already hinted at wanting to “play for 7 or 8 more years.” If the other Spurs stars like Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili (37 and 36 years old respectively) keep up their health, TP and the rest of his team will continue to be favorites for the title this spring.
Joakim Noah’s success is less certain this season, in spite of his clear talent. This summer he was sidelined suffering from physical problems. Tom Thibodeau, the trainer for the Bulls, declared to the Chicago Tribune, “Jo has to work extremely hard on his conditioning. But he has to be careful. We don’t want him to re-injure it.” A major player of the Chicago Bulls, Joakim Noah was voted by an NBA.com poll as the second best interior defender just behind Houston’s Dwight Howard.
Nicolas Batum arrived in 2007, quickly breaking record after record. First financially, with the signature of a juicy $46 million four-year contract with the Portland Trailblazers. Secondly in player stats, thanks to an impressive number of three-pointers last year.
Considered as “the French player to follow this season” by Tony Parker, Evan Fournier, only 20 years old, is a rising star in the NBA. Guard for the Denver Nuggets, he is going into his second season in the NBA. Last year, he signed a three-year contract for $3.4 million with the Nuggets.
Boris Diaw, aka Babac, right-forward to the San Antonio Spurs is riding on a good performance in the final against Lithuania. He grew in aggressiveness, which was his Achilles’ heel. “He is more aggressive offensively, and that’s the main thing we wanted from him,” assured the Spurs’ coach to the San Antonio Express News.
Ronny Turiaf is going to have to become the big brother at the heart of the Minnesota Timberwolves through training the younger recruits. And he isn’t just all talk, “I can do passes, defense, everything that’s necessary so we win. This team is something special.” He knows what he’s talking about too: it’s his seventh NBA team.
Nando De Colo, forward and Tony Parker’s backup for the Spurs had a lackluster first year in the NBA. This new season is becoming one of growth and maturing, “I’m going to have to prove myself. I am going into the second year better undertsnading the system. It’s up to me to do the work,” he declared to La Voix des sports.
The giant Rudy Gobert is a sizeable challenge! He has to prove himself at the heart of the Utah Jazz, however their coach remains confident, “He is intelligent in the game and has good hands. He has to improve…If he can help us in games, we’ll have him in games.”
The Spurs recruited Ian Mahinmi to everyone’s surprise in 2005 when he was unknown, but has since left his mark. With the Indiana Pacers, he adopted a multitalented game last year. “Mahinmi does everything very well. There aren’t any weak points in his game. He does the hard work and has the experience of having a title,” assured his coach Frank Vogel.
Kévin Séraphin wants to make himself vital to the Washington Wizards. “It’s up to me to find my place as the six man, even as a major player of this team. (…) I wnt to prove that they can give me a large amount of game time,” the 23-year old player told Mondial Basket.