Crvena Zvezda guard Jordan Loyd believes that USA Basketball should consider EuroLeague players for future international selection.
In his first season with the Serbian powerhouse, the 24-year-old Chicago native has established himself as the team’s main offensive weapon and is averaging an impressive 21 points a game in the EuroLeague.
But despite the high level of Europe’s showpiece club league, the NBA is still the main destination for most players, with the majority of imports in Europe still keeping their hopes of a spot in the league alive.
And once in the NBA, your chances for an international call-up also become much greater.
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For Loyd – an NBA champion with the Toronto Raptors in 2019 – he sees that the Americans in the EuroLeague deserve a shot at representing their country, including himself.
“It’d be a dream come true for me to play for USA Basketball,” Loyd said to Eurohoops.
“I mean, it’s everybody’s dream. And I agree with what those guys were saying. I think that if they really want a good chance of doing well, you got to use guys who play in Europe. That’s the highest level [outside the NBA].”
Despite the USA’s repeated success in international competition since the Beijing Olympics in 2008, the rest of the world looks to have caught up. The Americans were forced to use NBA G-League players to qualify for last year’s FIBA World Cup and while they succeeded, the G-League select side were disposed of and quickly forgotten about ahead of the tournament.
However, with NBA superstars such as LeBron James, James Harden and Anthony Davis not taking part in the World Cup to add with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving recovering from injury – USA struggled.
Adjusting to FIBA rules and playing a more methodical, physical style, USA were eventually eliminated by France in the quarter-finals and ultimately were placed seventh.
With a more European-style of basketball highlighted in international play as opposed to the fast paced, transition approach seen in the NBA, Loyd believes that the EuroLeague’s Americans can bring that type of experience to Team USA.
“We’re used to the game,” he states. “The game is so different. People don’t understand but it’s so different. There are a lot of little things that are so different from playing back home and playing here.
“I think that guys are used to it, especially those guys who are playing a long time over here so… of course give them a shot. They should be the first that they look at. They are used to the game, the rules, all different things.
“You saw what happened in the last World Cup. It was tough. Obviously, I have nothing against the NBA guys, they are the best players in the world for sure. I always tell that. But it’s just a different game. I’d love to play.
“I don’t know how you could make a merge. But some EuroLeague players? For sure. I think it would be great. It would help, for sure. They know the game. And, obviously, we can hoop.
“My friends back home don’t get a chance to see the game as much and certain things.”
But for Crvena Zvezda fans, forced to watch games from the comfort of their home due to the coronavirus pandemic instead of the cauldron of noise that they create at the Stark Arena, they have been lifted by Loyd’s recent performances.
Spending last season with Valencia, Loyd not only learned a different style of basketball, but also how to be a leader. A team player and a scorer. Something he is certainly excelling in with the Belgrade outfit.
“I have to give thanks to my teammates and my coaches,” Loyd said. “They just put me in the right positions, they look for me and it makes it easy for me. It’s easy for me just to finish the job.
“I’m in a great situation, great system, I got great coaches behind me. And teammates who are willing to share the ball. And I want to do the same. I know when the pressure is on me and everybody is locked in on me, I trust my teammates as well.”
And who knows, with USA Basketball looking to bounce back following the disappointment of the FIBA World Cup in China, mixed with an unpredictable year that has seen unprecedented measures put in place just for basketball to continue.
Could we see NBA players refusing to compete in next year’s Tokyo Olympics? Could that door open to EuroLeague stars?
Calling Jordan Loyd…