NBA Players

20 Best European Basketball Players From Overseas

By Abhay Acharya / 23 December 2023 11:40 AM

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European players are no longer merely supporting actors in the NBA; instead, it has evolved into a global hotbed of skill.

They're taking the scene by storm with their special fusion of talent, agility, and global flair. It is by far the biggest basketball hotbed outside North America.

While players like Dirk Nowitzki, Pau Gasol, and Tony Parker rank the best all-time among the European players in the league, we have highlighted the best active players here.

From reigning MVP and NBA champions to rising talents, the league is filled with overseas players honing their skills and waiting for an opportunity.

1. Nikola Jokic

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  • Team: Denver Nuggets
  • Nationality: Serbian

2022-23 Season Record: 69 Games, 24.5 PPG, 9.8 APG, 11.8 RPG, 1.3 SPG

From being drafted 41st overall in 2014 to becoming the reigning NBA MVP (twice!), Nikola Jokić is the name on every NBA fan's lips.

The five-time all star and Serbia native Jokic was named the Finals MVP after leading the Nuggets to the 2023 NBA championship title.

2. Giannis Antetokounmpo

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  • Team: Milwaukee Bucks
  • Nationality: Greek

2022-23 Season Record: 63 Games, 31.1 PPG, 5.7 APG, 11.8 RPG, 0.5 SPG

When it comes to European basketball players dominating the NBA, one name stands above the rest: Giannis Antetokounmpo, the "Greek Freak."

His accolades speak for themselves with 2020 NBA Defensive Player of the Year title, two-time MVP honor, an NBA champion title, and seven-time NBA All-Star appearances.

3. Luka Doncic

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  • Team: Dallas Mavericks
  • Nationality: Slovenian

2022-23 Season Record: 66 Games, 32.4 PPG, 8.0 APG, 8.6 RPG, 1.4 SPG

At just 24 years old, Luka Dončić has already established himself as one of the most dominant and exciting players in the NBA.

He became the youngest player ever to be awarded the MVP of the Round in the professional EuroLeague during the 2016-17 season.

4. Lauri Markkanen

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  • Team: Utah Jazz
  • Nationality: Finnish

2022-23 Season Record: 66 Games, 25.6 PPG, 1.9 APG, 8.6 RPG, 0.6 SPG

The Finnish forward Lauri Markkanen has quickly become a force to be reckoned with in the NBA. He was drafted 7th overall by the Timberwolves in 2017.

Standing tall at 7'0", Markkanen can stretch the floor with his consistent three-point shot, connecting at an impressive 38.4% clip throughout his career.

5. Franz Wagner

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  • Team: Orlando Magic
  • Nationality: German

2022-23 Season Record: 80 Games, 18.6 PPG, 3.5 APG, 4.1 RPG, 1.0 SPG

Franz Wagner, the 6'10" forward from Berlin, Germany, has taken the NBA by storm in just two seasons.

Drafted 8th overall by the Orlando Magic in 2021, he earned the All-Rookie First Team honors in 2022, a testament to his immediate impact.

Averaging 15.2 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 2.9 assists, Wagner displayed a well-rounded skillset beyond his years during his rookie season.

6. Rudy Gobert

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  • Team: Minnesota Timberwolves
  • Nationality: French

2022-23 Season Record: 70 Games, 13.4 PPG, 1.2 APG, 11.6 RPG, 0.8 SPG

Rudy Gobert, the "Stifle Tower" from France, has etched his name in the annals of European and NBA basketball.

Born in Saint-Quentin, France, Gobert honed his skills in his home country before being drafted 27th overall by the Denver Nuggets in 2013.

Rudy won the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award a record three times in 2018, 2019, and 2021.

7. Kristaps Porzingis

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  • Team: Boston Celtics
  • Nationality: Latvian

2022-23 Season Record: 65 Games, 23.2 PPG, 2.7 APG, 8.4 RPG, 0.9 SPG

Standing tall at 7'2", Kristaps Porzingis is a true anomaly on the court. He was drafted 4th overall by the New York Knicks in the 2015 draft.

Across his eight seasons in the NBA, Porzingis has amassed a respectable collection of accolades, incorporating 2016 All-Rookie team selection and 2018 All-Star appearance.

8. Bojan Bogdanovic

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  • Team: Detroit Pistons
  • Nationality: Croat

2022-23 Season Record: 59 Games, 21.6 PPG, 2.6 APG, 3.8 RPG, 0.6 SPG

When it comes to sharpshooters in the NBA, few can touch Bojan Bogdanović. His hard work paid off in 2011 when he landed in the NBA with the Brooklyn Nets.

Bogdanović's journey to NBA stardom wasn't paved with gold. He honed his craft in his native Croatia, then across Europe, facing fierce competition and overcoming adversity.

9. Dennis Schroder

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  • Team: Toronto Raptors
  • Nationality: German

2022-23 Season Record: 67 Games, 12.4 PPG, 4.4 APG, 2.5 RPG, 0.7 SPG

From Braunschweig to the bright lights of the NBA, Dennis Schroder has carved a path of electrifying athleticism and unwavering determination.

Schroder was already lighting up the German Bundesliga, earning the prestigious 'Best German Young Player' award in 2013, the year he was drafted by the Atlanta Hawks.

10. Bogdan Bogdanovic

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  • Team: Atlanta Hawks
  • Nationality: Serbian

2022-23 Season Record: 54 Games, 14.0 PPG, 2.8 APG, 3.1 RPG, 0.8 SPG

Bogdan Bogdanović, a name synonymous with sharpshooting and clutch play, has carved his own niche in the NBA landscape since 2014.

His basketball prowess blossomed in his native Serbia, where he honed his skills and won the prestigious EuroLeague Rising Star award twice in 2014 and 2015.

11. Danilo Gallinari

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  • Team: Washington Wizards
  • Nationality: Italian

2021-22 Season Record: 66 Games, 11.7 PPG, 1.5 APG, 4.7 RPG, 0.4 SPG

Danilo Gallinari's story began not in the glitz of the NBA, but in the provincial Italian league.

His undeniable talent caught the eye of scouts across the Atlantic, and in 2008, he was drafted 6th overall by the New York Knicks.

His trophy cabinet boasts an impressive collection: Italian League MVP, EuroLeague Rising Star, and two-time Italian League Best Player U-22.

12. Domantas Sabonis

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  • Team: Sacramento Kings
  • Nationality: Lithuanian

2022-23 Season Record: 79 Games, 19.1 PPG, 7.3 APG, 12.3 RPG, 0.8 SPG

The "Lithuanian Hammer," Domantas Sabonis, has carved a formidable legacy not just in the NBA, but in the entire basketball world.

Drafted by the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2016, the three-time All-Star Sabonis, earned his first All-NBA Third Team selection in 2023, cementing his place among the league's elite.

13. Jakob Poeltl

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  • Team: Toronto Raptors
  • Nationality: Austrian

2022-23 Season Record: 46 Games, 12.1 PPG, 3.1 APG, 9.0 RPG, 0.8 SPG

Standing tall at 7'0", Jakob Pöltl might not be the flashiest name on the court, but the Austrian center has quietly carved his place among Europe's best basketball players overseas.

By 20, he was already dominating the college league, earning Pac-12 All-Freshman Team selection. He caught the eye of international scouts to be drafted in 2016 by the Raptors.

14. Nikola Vucevic

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  • Team: Chicago Bulls
  • Nationality: Montenegrin

2022-23 Season Record: 82 Games, 17.6 PPG, 3.2 APG, 11.0 RPG, 0.7 SPG

Hailing from Montenegro, this skilled center, Nikola Vucevic, has carved his own legacy as one of the best European basketball players overseas.

He's a two-time All-Star, averaging over 17 points per game throughout his career since being drafted 16th overall by the Philadelphia 76ers in the 2011 NBA draft.

15. Jonas Valančiūnas

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  • Team: New Orleans Pelicans
  • Nationality: Lithuanian

2022-23 Season Record: 79 Games, 14.1 PPG, 1.8 APG, 10.2 RPG, 0.3 SPG

Lithuania's own Jonas Valančiūnas is a force to be reckoned with on the court. He ranks among the best European basketball players of all time.

He was a two-time FIBA Young Player of the Year (2011, 2012) and earned the prestigious EuroLeague Rising Star award in 2012.

Drafted 5th overall in 2011, he has been named to the NBA All-Rookie Second team in 2013.

16. Clint Capela

Source : twitter

  • Team: Atlanta Hawks
  • Nationality: Swiss

2022-23 Season Record: 65 Games, 12.0 PPG, 0.9 APG, 11.0 RPG, 0.7 SPG

Clint Capela, the Swiss-born center currently dominating the paint for the Atlanta Hawks, is a prime example of European basketball talent taking the NBA by storm.

Honing his skills in France's professional league, he was drafed by the Houston Rockets in 2014, marking the start of his NBA adventure and leading the league in rebounding in 2021.

17. Victor Wembanyama

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  • Team: San Antonio Spurs
  • Nationality: French

2023-24 Season Record: 24 Games, 19.0 PPG, 2.7 APG, 11.0 RPG, 1.3 SPG

Heralded as a "once-in-a-generation" talent, Victor Wembanyama, the 7'4" French phenom, was drafted 1st overall by the San Antonio Spurs in the 2023 NBA draft.

At just 19, Wembanyama already boasts a trophy cabinet overflowing with achievements. He dominated his native France, claiming the Pro A MVP title and leading ASVEL to the championship in 2022.

18. Santi Aldama

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  • Team: Memphis Grizzlies
  • Nationality: Spanish

2022-23 Season Record: 77 Games, 9.0 PPG, 1.3 APG, 4.8 RPG, 0.6 SPG

Hailing from sunny Gran Canaria, Santi Aldama isn't just another European prospect catching NBA eyes.

His MVP performance at the 2019 U18 European Championship marked him as a star in the making.

He brought Spain gold, showcasing an impressive blend of scoring and playmaking that translates seamlessly to the NBA.

19. Daniel Theis

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  • Team: Denver Los Angeles Clippers
  • Nationality: German

2022-23 Season Record: 7 Games, 7.0 PPG, 1.3 APG, 3.1 RPG, 0.3 SPG

Standing tall at 6'8", Daniel Theis is a German force to be reckoned with in the NBA paint, debuting with the Boston Celtics in the 2017-18 season.

His journey began in his native Germany, where he dominated the Basketball Bundesliga, a three-time champion and four-time All-Star.

20. Ricky Rubio

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  • Team: Cleveland Cavaliers
  • Nationality: Spanish

2022-23 Season Record: 33 Games, 5.2 PPG, 3.5 APG, 2.1 RPG, 0.8 SPG

Ricky Rubio, the electrifying point guard from El Masnou, Spain, has carved his name into the annals of European basketball history.

By 18, he was leading DKV Joventut to the FIBA EuroChallenge championship, becoming the youngest player ever to do so.

In 2009, Rubio was drafted fifth overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves, marking the start of a decade-long NBA odyssey.