Several former Boston Celtics have stood out at the FIBA World Cup, which is beginning its last week of play. After this morning’s quarterfinal matchups, six teams remain in the medal hunt: Serbia, the US, Canada, Germany, Slovenia, and Latvia. Lithuania and Italy were eliminated this morning, and Germany will square off against Latvia tomorrow, followed by Canada vs Slovenia, for the remaining spots in the semi-finals.
Throughout the World Cup, NBA players have dominated headlines. Slovenia’s Luka Doncic, Philippine’s Jordan Clarkson, Finland’s Lauri Markkanen, Dominican Republic’s Karl-Anthony Towns, and Canada’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander have led the tournament in scoring, with Australia’s Josh Giddey, Montenegro’s Nikola Vucevic, and Serbia’s Bogdan Bogdanovic emerging as other outstanding performers.
While no current Celtics players are playing — thanks to Kristaps Porzingis’s case of plantar fasciitis that has kept him sidelined for Latvia — three former Celtics have excelled at the tournament.
Former Boston Celtics player excelling at Fiba Word Cup No. 1: Dennis Schroder, Germany
Dennis Schroder has looked like one of the best players at the World Cup. Schroder has averaged 19.8 points per game on 50% shooting, to go along with 6.8 assists. Most recently, his German team dominated Doncic’s Slovenia, and he led the charge, going for 24 points on 8/11 shooting, to go along with 10 assists. He’s also been a lockdown defender.
FIBA Schroder is no new phenomenon — everyone knows that when international play comes around, the scrappy guard elevates his game. Schroder didn’t play his best basketball with the Celtics when he joined the team on a one-year deal in 2021 and was ultimately traded after 49 games. Throughout his NBA career, Schroder has averaged 12.6 points per game and 4.5 assists in more than a decade of play. In July, Schroder signed a two-year contract with the Raptors, which will become his 6th NBA team.
Former Boston Celtics player excelling at Fiba Word Cup No. 2: Daniel Theis, Germany
Daniel Theis is the starting center of the same German national team that has gone undefeated in five games so far. He signed with the Celtics in 2017 after going undrafted, and played five seasons in Boston, averaging 7.3 points per game in just under 19 minutes. Last summer, he was traded to the Pacers as part of the trade that brought Malcolm Brogdon to Boston.
For Germany, Theis has often served as Schroder’s pick-and-roll partner, and he’s averaged 11 points per game and 4.8 rebounds. While he’s fallen out of the rotation in Indiana, his FIBA run has shown he can still be an impact player. Who knows? He may one day end up back in Boston.
Former Boston Celtics player excelling at Fiba Word Cup No. 3: Tremont Waters, Puerto Rico
The Celtics drafted Tremont Water with the 51st pick in 2019 out of LSU, and over the course of two years, Waters saw very limited Celtics minutes. He was named NBA G League Player of the Year in 2020, but after limited stints with both the Raptors and Wizards, he eventually opted to sign with a Puerto Rico professional team.
The five-foot-11 guard of Puerto Rican descent never could find a role in the NBA — but the World Cup has been a different story. As a member of the Puerto Rican national team, Waters averaged 20 points and 9.6 assists per game, including a 37-point outing in a victory against the Dominican Republic.
While Puerto Rico is no longer in medal contention, Waters certainly made himself known. He may be undersized for the NBA, but his performance in Manila has led some fans to wonder if the explosive scorer could have contributed more in Boston.