The NBA is the most watched and advanced basketball league in the world, attracting fans worldwide. Most of the players have always been American in the past, but European talents have been streaming into the league of late and performing incredibly well. So, who are the best European NBA players? Read on to find out.
Great European basketball players like Giannis Antetokounmpo, Doncic and many others have rocked the NBA stage, producing exhilarating performances. They are also some of the biggest in the league with excellent physiques, making them incredible athletes. Here are some of the best European NBA players of all time.
Top 20 best European NBA players
European NBA players have been on the rise, taking spots from the traditional American ones. They have been some of the best international players in the NBA, dominating every aspect of the game. Here are the best European NBA players:
20. Zydrunas Ilgauskas
The Lithuanian was a floor-spacing centre with great defensive attributes. He has two all-star appearances. He ranked 50th in blocks, 166th in rebounds and 326 in scoring.
19. Goran Dragic
The Slovenian point guard was known for his offensive outbursts with a great finishing touch. His excellent shooting abilities, even from outside, made him an offensive nightmare for opponents. He ranked 99th in assists, 256th in steals and 259th in scoring.
He was once included in NBA's third team selection, once in the all-star team, a most improved player award, a Eurobasket gold medal and an MVP award.
18. Rik Smits
He was from the Netherlands, the land of tall people, so his 7'4" figure was not surprising. He ranked 77th in blocks, 221st in scoring and 242nd in rebounds. He had one NBA all-star appearance.
17. Andrei Kirilenko
The Russian is one of the tallest and most athletic players on this list. His greatest asset was his ability to play any role in the team, but he had an edge in his defensive duties. He was also known for his quick feet. He ranked 40th in blocks, 131st in steals, 344 in rebounds, 391st in assists and 415 in scoring.
Some of the honours to his name include one NBA all-star appearance, three all-defensive team selections, an Olympic bronze medal, a Eurobasket gold medal and an MVP award.
16. Joakim Noah
He was known for his energetic aura with excellent handles and playmaking. The Frenchman also boasted of great instincts that were helpful in defensive work. He played as a centre. He ranked 131st in blocks, 180th in rebounds and 468th in assists.
Some of his achievements include an All-NBA first-team selection, two all-star appearances, one defensive player of the Year award, two all-defensive 1st team selections and a Eurobasket silver medal.
15. Nikola Vucevic
The Montenegro star was one of the most highly skilled centres in the game. He was good at the game when it came to shooting, passing, defence, and other aspects. He had two NBA all-star appearances.
However, he ranked 78th in rebounds, 185th in blocks, 236th in scoring, 413th in steals and 433rd in assists.
14. Toni Kukoc
The Croatian was one of the best Bulls players helping them with great winning runs such as the one between 1989 and 1998.
He ranked 206th in assists, 284th in steals, 399th in scoring and 469th in rebounds. Some of the honours to his name include Three NBA titles, one-Sixth Man of the Year award, two Olympic silver medals, one World Championship gold medal, two Eurobasket gold medals, one World Championship MVP award, one Eurobasket MVP award, three Euroleague titles, three Euroleague Final and Four MVP awards.
13. Vlade Divac
The Serbian played as a centre, proving himself in both the NBA and FIBA competitions. He ranked 30th in blocks, 51st in rebounds, 76th in steals, 163rd in assists and 202nd in scoring. His achievements include One All-Star, two Olympic silver medals, two World Cup gold medals, and three Eurobasket gold medals.
12. Detlef Schrempf
He was one of the few Germans in the league and went on to perform beyond everyone's expectations. He was an incredible outside shooter. His 6'10" size made it even easier for him to manoeuvre his way.
He had many achievements at the NBA, including One All-NBA 3rd Team, three All-Stars, and two Sixth Man of the Year awards. He ranked 113th in rebounds, 120th in scoring, 136th in assists, 261st in steals, and 454th in blocks.
11. Arvydas Sabonis
The Lithuanian had injury issues a lot, especially in the early days of his career, but he was adamant about overcoming them. He was a giant by all means with incredible all round abilities described as a unicorn by some. His injury issues left many wondering what kind of player he would have been. He ranked 280th in blocks and 492nd in rebounds.
He had the following achievements in his basket: One Olympic gold medal, one World Cup gold medal, four Eurobasket medals, one Eurobasket MVP award, one Euroleague title, one Euroleague MVP award, one Euroleague Final and Four MVP awards.
10. Predrag Stojakovic
The Serbian's size was considered small for forwards, but he still performed, leading the league in free throw shooting accuracy twice and over 40 per cent shooting accuracy. In addition, he ranked 193rd in scoring, 335th in steals and 434th in rebounds. He achieved One NBA title, one All-NBA 2nd Team, three All-Stars, one World Cup gold medal, one Eurobasket gold medal, and one Eurobasket MVP.
9. Drazen Petrovic
His shooting prowess edged him over the other Europeans in the 20th century. The Croatian played as a guard, being the first European to make the All-NBA team, which is incredible. Unfortunately, a tragic road accident robbed the NBA world of the extraordinary experience of seeing him play.
His achievements include One All-NBA 3rd Team selection, two Olympic medals, one World Cup gold medal, one Eurobasket gold medal, one World Cup MVP award, one Eurobasket MVP award, and two Euroleague titles.
8. Rudy Gobert
The Frenchman had many doubters, but his run with the French national team failing to win gold by a whisker. Nevertheless, he has had a great NBA career, ranking 47th in blocks and 108 in rebounds.
Some of his accolades include Three All-NBA Team selections, three All-Stars, three Defensive Player of the Year awards, six All-Defensive 1st Team selections, one Olympic silver medal, two World Cup bronze medals, and two Eurobasket bronze medals.
7. Marc Gasol
The Spanish international was successful both in his NBA and national team career. He was a crucial component in defence with excellent playmaking capabilities and floor spacing.
This led to his successful ranks, such as 57th in blocks, 142nd in rebounds, 225th in assists, 239th in scoring, and 298th in steals. He was also able to achieve One NBA title, one All-NBA 1st Team selection, three All-Stars, one Defensive Player of the Year award, one All-Defensive 2nd Team selection, two Olympic silver medals, two World Cup gold medals, and five Eurobasket medals.
6. Luka Doncic
The Slovenian is one of the best current European players and could be in the debate to become one of the GOATs of the game. He ranks 407th in assists. He has won three All-NBA 1st Team selections, three All-Stars, one Eurobasket gold medal, one Euroleague title, one Euroleague MVP award, one Euroleague Final and Four MVP awards.
5. Tony Parker
He played as a point guard whose speed and impeccable change of direction made him a menace to opposing teams. He ranked 19th in assists, 56th in scoring and 150th in steals.
He boasts of the following accolades: four NBA titles, one Finals MVP, three All-NBA 2nd Team selections, six All-Stars, four Eurobasket medals, and one Eurobasket MVP.
4. Nikola Jokic
Due to his unique attributes, he ranks 186th in assists, 227th in rebounds, 365th in scoring, 374th in blocks, and 432nd in steals. His athletic prowess has earned him Two MVP awards, three All-NBA 1st Team selections, four All-Stars, and one Olympic silver medal.
3. Pau Gasol
He had a tremendous international career, complemented by his incredible NBA career. He had a giant stature complimented by incredible skills, making him a freak of nature.
He ranked 21st in blocks, 28th in rebounds, 40th in scoring, 125th in assists, and 449th in steals. Some of his accolades include Two NBA titles, four All-NBA selections, six All-Stars, three Olympic medals, one World Cup gold medal, seven Eurobasket medals, one World Cup MVP award, and two Eurobasket MVP awards.
2. Giannis Antetokounmpo
The Greek is considered the best among European NBA players in 2022, with the potential to become the best European player of all time. His gigantic stature is also a plus for the star. He ranks 136th in blocks, 167th in scoring, 170th in rebounds, 218th in assists, and 319th in steals.
Some of the accolades he has won include One NBA title, one Finals MVP, two MVPs, four All-NBA 1st Team selections, six All-Stars, one Defensive Player of the Year award, and four All-Defensive 1st Team selections.
1. Dirk Nowitzki
The German is considered the best among European NBA players of his time. One of his best attributes was shooting, which he would do at any angle, even impossible ones.
His dribbling was also impeccable, given his tall stature. He ranks 6th in scoring, 26th in rebounds, 53rd in blocks, 92nd in steals, and 152nd in assists. He boasts one NBA title, one Finals MVP, one MVP, 12 All-NBA selections, 14 All-Stars, one World Cup bronze medal, and one Eurobasket silver medal.
How many European NBA players are there
So, how many NBA players are European? The NBA has a total of 58 European players as of 2023. There are a total of 120 international players from 40 different countries.
Who is the best European basketball player in 2023?
Giannis Antetokounmpo is the best European player in 2023. He has averaged 29.9 points, 11.6 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game.
Who is the best basketball player in the Euroleague?
Vasilije Micic is the best basketball player in the Euroleague. He averages 18.2 points per game.
Dirk Nowitzki tops the list of the top European NBA players ever. Giannis is on his way to being the best, given his recent form and wins. He comes in a close second position for Europeans who have conquered the NBA.
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