European players have made a significant impact on the NBA, showcasing their skills, versatility, and basketball IQ on the biggest stage of professional basketball. From power forwards with lethal shooting strokes to agile guards with unmatched court vision, these players have left an indelible mark on the game. Let’s explore the top 10 European NBA players:
1. Dirk Nowitzki (Germany) – Throughout his 21-season NBA career, Nowitzki averaged 20.7 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 2.4 assists per game. He was a 14-time NBA All-Star, a one-time NBA MVP (2007), and the NBA Finals MVP when he led the Dallas Mavericks to the championship in 2011. Nowitzki is the highest-scoring European player in NBA history.
2. Giannis Antetokounmpo (Greece) – Antetokounmpo is a dominant force in the league, known for his athleticism and versatility. He has averaged 20.9 points, 9.0 rebounds, and 4.3 assists per game throughout his career. Antetokounmpo is a two-time NBA MVP (2019, 2020), a four-time NBA All-Star, and won the NBA Finals MVP in 2021 when he led the Milwaukee Bucks to their first championship in 50 years.
3. Pau Gasol (Spain) – Gasol, a highly skilled big man, averaged 17.0 points, 9.2 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per game in his NBA career. He was a six-time NBA All-Star, won two NBA championships with the Los Angeles Lakers (2009, 2010), and was a key contributor to Spain’s success in international competitions, winning two Olympic silver medals and a FIBA World Cup gold medal.
4. Dražen Petrović (Croatia) – Petrović is widely regarded as one of the greatest European basketball players. During his NBA career, he averaged 15.4 points, 2.4 rebounds, and 2.4 assists per game. Although his time in the NBA was cut short, Petrović was a key player for the New Jersey Nets and had already made significant contributions to the team. He had a successful international career, winning numerous medals with the Yugoslavian national team.
5. Toni Kukoč (Croatia) – Kukoč, a versatile forward, averaged 11.6 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per game throughout his NBA career. He played a crucial role as the sixth man for the Chicago Bulls during their championship three-peat from 1996 to 1998. Kukoč won the NBA Sixth Man of the Year award in 1996.
6. Nikola Jokić (Serbia) – Jokić, a highly skilled center, has had an impressive career so far. As of my knowledge cutoff, he has averaged 18.9 points, 10.6 rebounds, and 6.1 assists per game. Jokić won the NBA MVP award in 2021, becoming the first center to win it since Shaquille O’Neal in 2000. He has been named an NBA All-Star multiple times and has established himself as one of the best passing big men in NBA history.
7. Manu Ginóbili (Argentina) – Although not European, Ginóbili is often included among the top international NBA players. He averaged 13.3 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 3.8 assists per game during his NBA career. Ginóbili won four NBA championships with the San Antonio Spurs and was a two-time NBA All-Star. He was known for his crafty playmaking, scoring ability, and clutch performances.
8. Marc Gasol (Spain) – Gasol, a skilled center, has averaged 14.0 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 3.4 assists per game throughout his NBA career. He won an NBA championship with the Toronto Raptors in 2019 and has been named an NBA All-Star multiple times. Gasol is recognized for his defensive prowess, basketball IQ, and passing skills.
9. Detlef Schrempf (Germany) – Schrempf, a versatile forward, averaged 13.9 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 3.4 assists per game in his NBA career. He was a three-time NBA All-Star and won the NBA Sixth Man of the Year award twice (1991, 1992). Schrempf played a significant role for the Dallas Mavericks, Indiana Pacers, and Seattle SuperSonics during his NBA tenure.
10. Kristaps Porziņģis (Latvia) – Porziņģis, a skilled power forward/center, has averaged 17.8 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 1.3 assists per game in his NBA career. He has showcased his scoring ability and shot-blocking skills throughout his tenure with the New York Knicks and the Dallas Mavericks. Porziņģis was named an NBA All-Star in 2018.