Australia v Slovenia FIBA World Cup: Game Grades, Analysis for Boomers & Junaki

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Australia v Slovenia FIBA World Cup: Game Grades, Analysis for Boomers & Junaki
Uncredited/Associated Press
Australia vs. Slovenia could have been Dante Exum vs. Goran Dragic, but Exum barely played and Dragic stole the show.

Phoenix Suns star guard Goran Dragic led Slovenia over Australia Saturday by a score of 90-80 as the teams opened Group D action at the FIBA World Cup from Spain's Gran Canaria. While Dante Exum might have been the most intriguing name on either roster, he came off the bench and produced one assist and zero points in 10-plus minutes. 

Slovenia shot 57 percent from the field and won the rebounding battle, all but deciding the final advantage. Dragic put up 21 points and seven rebounds, tying him for the game-high in both categories. Slovenia led 49-43 at halftime, but they had been up by 13 earlier. Australia closed the gap in the third quarter, only to watch the deficit expand once again, and a late charge from the Boomers kept it interesting down the stretch, though their poor defense ultimately did them in. 

Here are grades for all the key players from both sides in this international clash. 

 

Slovenia Grades:

Goran DragicA

Zoran Dragic: B

Alen Omic: B

Domen Lorbek: B+

Rest of Team: B

 

Australia Grades:

Dante Exum: D

Aron Baynes: A-

Matthew Dellavedova: D

Joe Ingles: B-

Rest of Team: D

 

Slovenia Grades:

Goran Dragic: A

Joe Murphy/Getty Images
Goran Dragic competes against the best in the world on a regular basis.

The only thing that could have possibly stopped Goran Dragic against the Aussies was foul trouble. He picked up four personals before the midway point of the fourth quarter, but Slovenia had opened another double-digit lead by that point. 

The NBA's Most Improved Player from last season wasted no time in making his mark on the game, with nine points, four boards and a pair of assists just in the first quarter. By the time it was all wrapped up, Goran had 21 points, seven rebounds, four dimes and two steals to his credit. He's the straw who stirs the drink. 

 

Zoran Dragic: B 

Darko Vojinovic/Associated Press
Don't mess with the Zoran!

If you were not aware of it already, yes, another Dragic exists. ESPN.com's Marc Stein reported on Zoran's strong 16-point effort in a tuneup against Team USA, helped by his "lefty shooting mechanics that look almost identical to Goran's." By the next day, Zoran had drawn some interest from NBA teams looking to possibly add that ineffable "Dragic factor."

Zoran plays for Spain's Unicaja Malaga and recently inked a new contract, but that's not to say a buyout can't be reached to create a potent double-Dragic NBA. As Goran said about his brother after the USA game, via Stein: 

He was our best player on the court. It means a lot to play with him. We don't see each other so often. OK, on Skype, but it's not the same. Now it's a perfect situation for us to play together with the national team.

Zoran finished against Australia with 10 points while playing just shy of 20 minutes, and he turned in a plus-11 rating, better than every player not named Omic. With multiple Plumlees and Morrises rostered in the pros, some NBA squad should give Zoran a call. 

 

Alen Omic: B

As eluded to above, Alen Omic posted a plus-12 for the best rating in Saturday's win. While plus-minus ratings can be somewhat misleading regarding a player's efficacy in a certain game, Omic made his presence felt on both ends of the floor. He scored eight points and collected seven rebounds, including three on the offensive glass.

Had Bogut been healthy for the Aussies, Omic would have had his hands full. Instead, he played solid minutes at the pivot and helped limit Australia's attacking on the interior. 

 

Domen Lorbek: B+

Thanassis Stavrakis/Associated Press

OK, so Erazem Lorbek's knee injury kept him out of World Cup play this time around, but they've still got Domen Lorbek! He turned in 32 strong minutes and notched 13 points with three assists, a block and a steal.

Despite playing down the depth chart, he spelled Zoran Dragic with effective play in the backcourt and helped pace a Slovenian offense that had fallen flat at times. 

 

Rest of Team: B

Don't get it twisted! Slovenia has players named Jaka Blazic (nine points, four rebounds) and Kure Balazic (10 points, one rebound), as well as Jaka Klobucar (seven points, three rebounds). While Klobucar coughed up four turnovers in limited action, it will be all smiles in the locker room for the Slovenians, who looked superior for much of the game, barring a couple of scoring runs from the Boomers. 

 

Australia Grades:

Dante Exum: D

Uncredited/Associated Press

As CBS Sports' Zach Harper phrased it in his "players to watch" section from Australia's World Cup breakdown:

Exum. Exum. Exum. There are quality players on this team, but everybody wants to know if he's the real deal. He looked good and fun in Las Vegas Summer League, and a big tournament and advancing out of group play could truly help push his development.

Well, if this game served as a bellwether for whether or not Exum is "the real deal," then the Utah Jazz got some very sour news. Exum posted a minus-nine floor rating, tied for second-worst on the team, and managed just two rebounds and one assist. Exum missed both of his shot attempts and committed a sloppy turnover as well. Dellavedova saw more playing time in the backcourt, for better or worse. 

 

Aron Baynes: A-

Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images
Baynes (right) displaying his national pride.

Baynes had himself an extremely up-and-down game. This became encapsulated in one sequence during the second quarter when he tossed a cheeky elbow in the post and received an unsportsmanlike infraction, then he followed that with a slick three-point play roughly one minute later.

For the game, Baynes poured in 21 points and converted eight of his 13 field-goal attempts, while also ripping down seven rebounds. However, late in the fourth quarter with his team trailing by double digits, Baynes found a lane to the hoop and put down an emphatic dunk.

That was all well and good until he landed and crumpled to the floor. While it may have just been a severe cramp, it also looked like a potentially worrisome leg injury for the day's highest-scoring Aussie.

 

Matthew Dellavedova: D

Sandra Mu/Getty Images

Since Patty Mills (shoulder) can't take the court, Dellavedova will enjoy an expanded role at the World Cup. That might not be a good thing. While his team shot 51 percent from the field and 46 percent from three-point range, Dellavedova misfired on six of his seven shots. His attempt at a ridiculous no-look circus layup in the second quarter failed miserably, a portent of things to come. 

Every other player on his team except big man David Andersen shot at least 60 percent from the floor. Sure, he dished five dimes, but Dellavedova also kicked around five turnovers. Perhaps this poor showing will prompt more playing time for Exum in the next Group D game. 

 

Joe Ingles: B-

Ingles led all Boomers in minutes played and tallied a dozen points. He never got into full swingman mode, though the Boomers badly needed a hot shooter to help play catch-up in the fourth quarter, but Ingles still sniped five shots from the floor. Oddly, he struggled at the line, bricking three of his five foul shots.

 

Rest of Team: C-

Jazz rookie Brock Motum scored eight points in limited minutes. David Andersen subbed for the absent Andrew Bogut and notched 14 points in the middle. Brad Newley put down a baker's dozen in an efficient 25 minutes. And Ryan Broekhoff can stroke the three, yes he can, nailing a trip of triples. 

However, Australia's bench brought very little to the table. After the six Aussies who scored at least eight points, the only other Boomer to record a point was Dellavedova, who made one basket, indicative of Australia's uneven play on both ends of the floor. 

 

Coming up next:

Neither team will have much time to rest, as Sunday will see Slovenia tangle with Mexico (and a roster boasting Gustavo Ayon). Meanwhile, Australia will grapple with Korea, an opponent that already posted a loss in Group D action against Angola.

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