Whether Daniel Theis, who will be joining a crowded frontcourt as more of a fit on an experienced, playoff-caliber team, will ever actually play for the Indiana Pacers amid a rebuild remains to be seen. According to Hoops Hype’s Michael Scotto, as compensation for absorbing Russell Westbrook, Indiana asked the Lakers for Talen Horton-Tucker and two first-round picks in exchange for Myles Turner and Buddy Hield. As part of those negotiations, the Pacers also reportedly wanted the Lakers to take on Theis’ contract.
For now, though, after finishing last season on a title contender in Boston, Theis is once again competing for a championship, pulling off an upset over Greece to advance to the semi-finals of EuroBasket 2022 with the German National Team. After allowing the Greeks to score 61 points in the first half of the quarterfinals, Germany went on a 20-1 run in the third quarter while building a wall at one end of the floor and hunting every mismatch at the other. With Greece switching out against Dennis Schroeder, Theis was key to enabling the Germans to play inside-out, as he slipped quickly out of picks, turned some post-ups into seal screens for guards to get to the rim, and smashed smaller defenders on the glass.
Of course, in addition to consistently getting two feet in the paint with either Schroeder or potential breakout star Franz Wagner, it also helped that Germany seemingly made every kick-out, drilling 17 threes while tallying the second-highest point total of the tournament at the end of regulation (107). In fact, the only team that has put up more points through four quarters is Spain, who scored 114 over Bulgaria as Germany’s upcoming opponent.
In contrast to the Greeks, who stuck with switching in spite of some adverse results, Spain froze up Lithuania’s offense in the clutch during their first knockout game by rotating through various types of zone, including box-and-one. As a result, and also in part due to foul trouble, Lithuania ended up staggering Jonas Valanciunas and Domantas Sabonis — a split decision which left them vulnerable on the glass, particularly with regard to Usman Garuba. Spain had lost to Lithuania twice during the preparation stage, but stormed back from an 11-point deficit to advance to the quarterfinals. Then, in the quarterfinals, they downed Finland after trailing by 15 points, all while demonstrating tactical versatility.
As such, in order to advance against a pesky Spanish team that looked less formidable on paper but has proven to rise up against adversity, Germany will likely be up against more perimeter firepower, and perhaps a less favorable defensive scheme, than what was the case in the prior round.
Still, although it may not entirely be clear how Theis will fit in with the blue-and-gold on a roster that, at least to this point, still includes Myles Turner, Jalen Smith, Isaiah Jackson, Terry Taylor, and Goga Bitadze, the current Pacers forward has a chance to compete for gold with his national team, demonstrating what he can bring in a winning environment.
Returning to the semi-finals of a major FIBA competition for the first time in 17 years, Germany’s match-up with Spain is scheduled for 2:30 PM EST on Friday and will be available for streaming on ESPN+.