NBA Teams Expressing Interest In Arturs Zagars

Latvia’s Arturs Zagars is generating NBA interest after his standout performance in the World Cup, sources tell Donatas Urbonas of BasketNews.

The 23-year-old guard led Latvia to a fifth-place finish in its first-ever World Cup appearance and set a tournament record with 17 assists in the team’s final game against Lithuania. Zagars averaged 12.4 points, 2.6 rebounds and 7.4 assists in 25 minutes per game as Latvia defeated established powers such as France, Spain and Brazil.

That showing will increase the opportunities for Zagars, who is a free agent after spending last season with Nevėžis Kėdainiai in the Lithuanian Basketball League. Urbonas states that BC Wolves Vilnius of Lithuania had interest in signing Zagars before the World Cup began, but now it has competition from several top EuroLeague clubs. Some NBA teams are also considering a two-way contract for Zagars, according to Urbonas’ sources.

“I think it’s a fair shot. It’s all about timing, chance and opportunity,” Latvian teammate Davis Bertans said about Zagars’ NBA prospects. “Everything can happen if you end up at the right place at the right time. He has all the tools to do it. He’s relentless, as you can see. They’re putting their best defender on him every single night, and he still delivers for us.”

At 6’3″, Zagars is capable of handling either backcourt position, but he’s primarily used as a point guard. Urbonas notes that he plays with a swagger and is willing to take control of the offense, either by scoring or creating opportunities for teammates. He got a taste of NBA basketball while playing for the Wizards during the 2022 Las Vegas Summer League.

Zagars has played professionally in Europe since 2017, but his progress has been slowed by injuries, including a torn ligament in his ankle that required surgery in 2019. He withdrew from that year’s NBA draft, joining teams in Estonia and Germany before landing in Lithuania. He was hurt again late last season and wasn’t considered definite to play in the World Cup until coach Luca Banchi got to see him in person.

“Only in the training camp I understood that his body was responding well,” Banchi said. “Before, there were question marks, but the guy worked seriously during the summer and probably achieved so much that he couldn’t even predict himself.” 

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