Killian Hayes, Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, Goran Dragic, Nikola Vucevic, and Bojan Bogdanovic headline the players descending on France’s capital as the Detroit Pistons face off against the Chicago Bulls on Thursday 19 January.
Bienvenue à Paris basketball fans.
The NBA is going global again as it heads to France for a regular-season game between six-time champions Chicago Bulls and three-time league winners Detroit Pistons at the Accor Arena on 19 January.
The game marks the NBA’s first return to Europe since January 2020 when Paris also hosted the Milwaukee Bucks and the Charlotte Hornets.
There will be plenty for French fans to feast upon when the Pistons take on the Bulls not least the homecoming of their star Killian Hayes.
The 21-year-old Frenchman began his hoops career in the capital and will be looking to continue his love affair with the city with a Pistons win in front of a home crowd.
But the task before Hayes and the Pistons won’t be easy.
Currently ranked second from bottom in the Eastern Conference standings, the Pistons (12-35) are in the middle of a tumultuous season which was exacerbated last month by the ruling out of 2021 No.1 draft pick Cade Cunningham through a season-ending injury.
Their lack of fortune has left many wondering if the team may now tank the rest of the season in a bid to improve their chances of securing French generational talent Victor Wembanyama, who is widely expected to go as the number one pick in the first-round of the 2023 Draft.
Though also suffering from inconsistencies this season, the Bulls (20-24), sitting 10th in the East just inside the play-off zone, will present stiff competition.
As well as boasting a team featuring gold Olympic medallists Zach LaVine (2020) and DeMar DeRozan (2016) the Bulls have already registered a win over the Pistons this season, winning 132-118 at home on 31 December 2022.
The Bulls will be strongly favoured to win the clash, particularly if DeRozan’s recent quad injury that has kept him out of the last three games is improved
The best of North America’s premier basketball league is sure to be the main event when the game tips off at the Accor Arena, but it won’t be the only thing in the spotlight.
A once-in-a-year opportunity to catch the NBA in Europe means fans across the continent will be travelling to see some of their top stars.
Certain to have the support of the French fans in the building on Thursday night will be the number seven pick from the 2020 NBA Draft, Hayes.
The 21-year-old was recently thrust into a starting role following Cunningham’s injury and the Frenchman is responding positively. Since taking over the starting spot Hayes has been turning in stronger stat lines including career highs in points and assists per game, as well as in three-point efficiency.
Joining Hayes as an international star to watch on the Pistons is Croatia’s Bojan Bogdanovic.
The 33-year-old, who has played for several other NBA franchises including the Brooklyn Nets, Washington Wizards, Indiana Pacers, and Utah Jazz, is a renowned three-point scorer and is currently in hot form. The Croat is in a career-scoring season, averaging 21.2 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 2.8 assists per game.
Fans of European nations Slovenia and Montenegro will have the chance to catch two of their biggest ever when the Bulls take to the court in Paris.
Two-time All-Star (2019, 2021) Nikola Vucevic has become an essential part of the Bulls’ starting five, connecting with LaVine and DeRozan to form a ‘Big Three.’ The 33-year-old Montenegrin center just recorded his ninth consecutive double-double game after registering a season-high 43 points in the Bulls' win over reigning champions Golden State Warriors on Sunday (15 January).
Meanwhile, Slovenia will be watching their veteran Goran Dragic closely.
After surprising his country by coming out of international retirement to compete in EuroBasket and the FIBA World Cup qualifiers last year, there are lingering hopes the man known as ‘The Dragon’ will compete at this year showpiece event.
Dragic has already alluded this NBA season may be his last and has said he will see how his body fares before deciding whether he will compete alongside Luka Doncic at the tournament to be co-hosted by Japan, Philippines, and Indonesia.
Chicago Bulls 132-118 Detroit Pistons – December 31, 2022
Chicago Bulls 114-109 Detroit Pistons – March 10, 2022
Chicago Bulls 133-87 Detroit Pistons – January 12, 2022
The Bulls and Pistons will tip-off at the Accor Arena at 21:00 Central European Time (UTC+1).
For viewers in the United States, that is 14:00 CST for fans in Chicago, 15:00 in Detroit where EST is observed.
The NBA Paris Game 2023 will air live in France on free-to-air Canal+ as well as on beIN SPORTS.
Fans around the world will also be available to stream the game via the NBA League Pass.