Simone Fontecchio needs to make an impact in the FIBA World Cup to prove he’s worthy of minutes with the Utah Jazz.
The FIBA World Cup will give a group of pro players not only a chance to win a coveted international tournament but also showcase their skills to potential suitors. A tournament like this can get guys signed to new deals, new clubs, or even new leagues, as well as showing off a player’s skillset so that his current team could use him better. This includes, but is not limited to Simone Fontecchio of Team Italy and our own Utah Jazz.
Fontecchio left the EuroLeague with the idea of becoming successful in the NBA, but his first year in the NBA was not what he hoped it would be. He only played in 52 games and when he did play, he only amassed 15 minutes of action. Made worse by all of this were his shooting splits, which were .369/.330/.795.
He only averaged 6.3 points, 1.7 rebounds, and less than a full assist per game during his first year in the NBA, and his status with the team should have been up for discussion heading into the offseason. Yet, he’s still on the team, and more importantly, he seems to be showcasing what he can do with Team Italy in the FIBA World Cup warmup round.
Through six games, Team Italy is undefeated, posting a perfect 6-0 record during the exhibition round of the FIBA World Up. They just knocked off Brazil 93-87 during the FIBA Solidarity Cup, where Fontecchio dropped 26 points in his team’s victory.
He hasn’t been a one-and-done type of guy either, as he’s been a brute force for the Italians. Against the Greeks, he played just under 17 minutes and scored 16 points as the Italians routed the Greeks 98-65. Against Turkey, Fontecchio dropped another 21 points, this time on insane efficiency, going 5-9 from three.
All of this is without the country’s greatest player, Danilo Gallinari. With Gallinari out for the international competition, many didn’t know how good Team Italy would be, but Fontecchio is putting in the work for his homeland.
It’s fair to say that he’s been the catalyst for the team, and has delivered in key moments. While a lot of the stats for these games are hard to find, the three games we did find stats for show us that he’s taking the preliminary portion of the FIBA World Cup very seriously.
If he can bring this gun-slinger mentality into the NBA regular season, the Jazz may get themselves one heck of a scoring threat. But he has to prove that his time with the Italian National Team isn’t just a fluke, or because he’s playing against non-NBA players. If he can do that, then there’s no reason to suspect that he can’t get minutes with the Jazz.