Report: FIBA World Cup star Arturs Zagars gaining interest from NBA teams

Orel Dizon
3 Min Read

The 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup helped provide some players with platforms to audition for roster spots in the NBA. Latvian star Arturs Zagars is reportedly among those who impressed enough during the tournament to get on the radars of some professional basketball clubs in both the NBA and EuroLeague.

“According to BasketNews sources, several solid EuroLeague teams, and even some NBA clubs, have been diligently gathering information about this World Cup standout in recent days,” wrote Donatas Urbonas.

Latvia surprised a lot of folks after its impressive run in the recently concluded competition. Slotting at No. 29 in FIBA’s rankings prior to the tournament, the national team defied expectations and finished fifth. It defeated a few international powerhouses along the way, including France, Spain and Lithuania.

Leading the charge for a squad that was missing Boston Celtics star Kristaps Porzingis was the 23-year-old Zagars. He finished the tournament with averages of 12.4 points and 7.4 assists per game.

Zagars saved his best for last as he dished out 17 assists in his team’s battle against Lithuania for fifth place. That number marks a World Cup record, beating out the previous record of 15. Impressively, he achieved the feat while committing zero turnovers.

For his efforts, the 6-foot-3 point guard was named to the tournament’s All-Second Team.

Only time will tell if NBA organizations are indeed going to be lining up to bring him to American soil. He tried his luck in 2019 by declaring for the NBA draft that year. However, he went undrafted, resulting in his return to Europe.

Zagars later again auditioned for a roster spot in the NBA, joining the Washington Wizards’ Summer League team in 2022. He played four games then, seeing just 7.9 minutes of action per game while dropping a total of seven points and two assists during the stint.

Perhaps the Latvian guard’s fortunes are about to change. Based on his performance in the World Cup, he may be able to provide some teams with additional playmaking. The fact that he also made 1.9 3-pointers per game in the competition may give front offices another reason to consider working him out or signing him to a contract.

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Orel's passion for sports stems from following Michael Jordan’s last title runs with the Chicago Bulls and his namesake Orel Hershiser’s Cleveland Indians tenure in the late 1990s.