European NBA Players [2024]

The fact that there have been so many players from the “Old Continent” in the NBA over the past three decades shows that Europe is the biggest basketball hotbed.

In the past, most NBA players have always been Americans, but in recent years, many European stars have entered the league and are excelling.

The MVP award has been earned by a player from Europe in the last four seasons, specifically Giannis Antetokounmpo and Nikola Jokić, who won it back-to-back.

Now let’s take a look at the list of best European NBA players.

Who Are The 30 Greatest European NBA Players In NBA History?

The following is a list of the best European NBA players over the years, in no particular order.

Note: I have excluded Victor Wembanyama as he just got drafted on June 22, 2023. I will continue to monitor his performance.

1. Giannis Antetokounmpo (Greece)

There’s a decent chance Giannis Antetokounmpo will be regarded as the best basketball player from Europe – no small accomplishment for a player who didn’t have Greek citizenship as a child.

With incredible length, aggressiveness, and scoring in the paint, Giannis Antetokounmpo makes up for his one weakness – his shooting.

Everyone was surprised by Giannis Antetokounmpo: the former defensive Player of the year and two-time MVP’s journey from unheard-of Greek talent to NBA champion.

  • Awards: Outstanding honors include one NBA championship, one Finals MVP, two MVP awards, four selections to the All-NBA 1st Team, six All-Stars, one Defensive Player of the Year award, and four selections to the All-Defensive 1st Team.
  • NBA Ranking: 319th in steals, 136th in assists, 167th in scoring, 170th in rebounds, and 136th in blocks

2. Dirk Nowitzki (Germany)

Dirk Nowitzki is regarded as the greatest offensive forward in basketball history and the greatest Player from Europe.

Not only did Nowitzki lead those Mavs teams to numerous deep playoff runs and, ultimately, a title, but he also did so without the help of other outstanding players.

With teams devoid of elite talent, Nowitzki achieved a similar feat with Germany, taking home a couple of trophies.

  • Awards: One NBA championship, one MVP of the Finals, one MVP, 12 All-NBA selections, 14 All-Stars, one World Cup bronze medal, and one silver medal from the Eurobasket.
  • NBA Rankings: sixth-best scorer, 26th-best rebounder, 53rd-best blocker, 92nd-best stealer, and 152nd-best assister.
  • Voting Percentage: 98.24% of the total number of votes.

3. Nikola Jokić (Serbia)

The 2021-22 back-to-back MVP, Nikola Jokić, is a generational star transforming the game. One of the best passers in the game right now, and not just among centers.

Because of his incredible passing and scoring abilities, Nikola Jokić can be in the center position of a team’s best NBA offense.

Jokić is the first player in NBA history to record 2000 points, 1000 rebounds, and 500 assists in a regular season.

  • Awards: His achievements include two MVP titles, three All-NBA 1st Team selections, four All-Star selections, and one Olympic silver medal.
  • NBA Rankings: 432nd in steals, 186th in assists, 227th in rebounds, 365th in scoring

4. Rudy Gobert (France)

Thanks to his mix of length, mobility, and intelligence, Rudy Gobert is one of the most lethal defensive players in the history of the NBA.

Gobert has already achieved considerable success with the French National Team but hasn’t yet won a gold medal.

Before the 2015–16 season, Rudy Gobert was the Utah Jazz’s sole starting point guard.

Gobert is the only player with a lower raw plus-minus since the beginning of that season than Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, Klay Thompson, and Kawhi Leonard (regular season and postseason).

  • Awards: All-Star choices, three Defensive Player of the Year awards, three All-NBA Team selections, six All-Defensive 1st Team selections, an Olympic silver medal, two World Cup bronze medals, and two Eurobasket bronze medals are among the top honors.
  • NBA Rankings: 47th in blocks and 108th in rebounds in the NBA

5. Tony Parker (France)

Tony Parker, a point guard with lightning-fast reflexes and exceptional change-of-direction abilities, made his living by dribbling into the paint and finishing among the bushes with his unstoppable tear-drop floater.

This European talent wasn’t a great shooter and by no means an outstanding defender, yet he’s still one of the best guards ever.

  • Awards: Four NBA titles, one Finals MVP, three All-NBA 2nd Team selections, six All-Stars, four Eurobasket medals, one Eurobasket Most Valuable Player
  • NBA Rankings: 19th in assists, 56th in scoring, 150th in steals

6. Luka Dončić (Slovenia)

One of the best European NBA players, Luka Dončić, has revolutionized the league with his methodical yet cunning style.

It should go without saying, but to put it simply, Luka Dončić is a remarkable talent who can make the GOAT list in the future.

Despite being a small man from the Dallas Mavericks, it is because of his incredible ability to score, create plays, and rebound from the lead-guard position.

  • Awards: Three All-NBA 1st Team selections, three All-Stars, one Eurobasket gold award, one Euroleague title, one Euroleague MVP accolade, one Euroleague Final Four MVP accolade
  • NBA Rankings: 407th in assists

7. Arvydas Sabonis (Lithuania)

One of the first unicorns in the game, Arvydas Sabonis, was a versatile behemoth. Regrettably, the generally glossed-over period of his superdominant European rule was short-lived.

Sabonis will always be remembered as one of the biggest basketball what-ifs, even though serious injury issues for players his size are not unusual.

  • Awards: One Olympic gold medal, one World Cup gold award, four Eurobasket medals, one Eurobasket MVP accolade, one Euroleague title, one Euroleague MVP accolade, one Euroleague Final Four MVP accolade
  • NBA Rankings: 280th in blocks, 492nd in rebounds

8. Toni Kukoč (Croatia)

Toni Kukoč was a superb all-around player, so smart and graceful with the ball in his hands yet tenacious when needed.

One of the top players for the Bulls, the Croatian basketball player contributed to some of their greatest winning streaks, including the one between 1989 and 1998.

  • Awards: Three NBA titles, one-Sixth Man of the Year award, two Olympic silver medals, one World Championship gold medal, two Eurobasket gold awards, one World Championship MVP award, one Eurobasket MVP award, three Euroleague titles, three Euroleague Final Four MVP awards
  • NBA Rankings: 206th in assists, 284th in steals, 399th in scoring, 469th in rebounds

9. Pau Gasol (Spain)

Pau Gasol, a two-time NBA champion, was deemed the most crucial Laker on those two championship squads by some statisticians.

He earned 11 medals and many MVP awards at summer FIBA competitions and had a fantastic career.

  • Awards: Two NBA titles, four All-NBA selections, six All-Stars, three Olympic awards, one World Cup gold medal, seven Eurobasket medals, one World Cup MVP award, two Eurobasket MVP awards
  • NBA Rankings: 21st in blocks, 28th in rebounds, 40th in scoring, 125th in assists, 449th in steals

10. Dražen Petrović (Croatia)

Dražen Petrović, the first European player to make an All-NBA Team, is arguably the best European player of the 20th century because of his incredible shooting ability and competitive spirit.

He played for Portland Trail Blazers and New Jersey Nets.

  • Awards: One All-NBA 3rd Team selection, two Olympic awards, one World Cup gold medal, one Eurobasket gold medal, one World Cup MVP award, one Eurobasket Most Valuable Player award, two Euroleague titles

11. Marc Gasol (Spain)

Marc Gasol, the captain of several excellent Grizzlies teams, eventually won a championship while leading the Raptors’ defense and making significant contributions as a facilitator and floor-spacer.

The Spanish player was successful both in his NBA and national team career.

  • Awards: 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, five Eurobasket medals
  • NBA Rankings: 57th in blocks, 142nd in rebounds, 225th in assists, 239th in scoring, 298th in steals

12. Joakim Noah (France)

During his prime, Joakim Noah, one of the most vibrant European players ever, was regarded as one of the top centers in the NBA.

Noah was highly good due to his ball handling and playmaking out of the high post/short midrange positions, despite his jumper not having much range.

  • Awards: One All-NBA 1st Team selection, two All-Stars, one Defensive Player of the Year award, two All-Defensive 1st Team selections, one Eurobasket silver medal
  • NBA Rankings: 131st in blocks, 180th in rebounds, 469th in assists

13. Juan Carlos Navarro (Spain)

Juan Carlos Navarro, a pure scorer with his unique floater known as “La Bomba,” had a fantastic career with FC Barcelona and the Spanish National Team

He only played briefly with the Memphis Grizzlies in the NBA. He could have been a reliable role player in the league for many years but opted to lead his hometown team.

  • Awards: All-Rookie 2nd Team, three Olympic medals, one World Cup gold medal, two Eurobasket gold medals, one Eurobasket MVP award, two Euroleague titles, one Euroleague MVP award, one Euroleague Final Four MVP award

14. Andrei Kirilenko (Russia)

Thanks to his length and athleticism, the Russian forward was skilled at packing the stat sheet from top to bottom.

Andre Kirilenko was a versatile player who excelled thanks to his excellent instincts, fast feet, and length defense.

He was a Swiss Army knife on both sides of the floor and could fill various roles.

  • Awards: One All-Star, three All-Defensive Team selections, one Olympic bronze medal, one Eurobasket gold medal, one Eurobasket MVP award, one Euroleague MVP award
  • NBA Rankings: 40th in blocks, 131st in steals, 344th in rebounds, 391st in assists, 415th in scoring

15. Dino Radja (Croatia)

Dino Radja and Kukoč, members of the renowned Jugoplastika Split, created a pair that was utterly dominant throughout Europe.

One of the few shining lights for the pitiful Celtics of the 1990s, Radja averaged over 20 points per game in his third NBA season before finishing his career in Europe a few years later.

  • Awards: Two Olympic silver medals, one World Championship bronze medal, two Eurobasket gold medals, two Euroleague titles, one Euroleague Final Four MVP

16. Kristaps Porziņģis (Latvia)

A shot-blocking, three-point shooting big man in a freakish 7-foot-3 package, Kristaps Porziņģis was poised for a perennial All-Star career until injuries began to impair him.

Porziņģis is still young, so there’s a chance he’ll eventually find his form again, but at the very least, he’s still an above-average starter who is effective.

  • Awards: Three Olympic medals, three Eurobasket awards, one Eurobasket Most Valuable Player award

17. Hedo Türkoğlu (Turkey)

Hidayet Türkoğlu was an enormous swingman who could do some of everything, including score, rebound, and pass.

He would have been even more productive now if he had attempted more three-pointers, but even at his age, he was an underappreciated small forward.

  • Awards: One Most Improved Player award, one World Cup silver medal, one Eurobasket silver medal
  • NBA Rankings: 254th in assists, 322nd in scoring, 332nd in steals, 404th in rebounds, 485th in blocks

18. Vlade Divac (Serbia)

Vlade Divac, who is most remembered for his tenure with the Kings, was a popular player for many years. The Serbian played as a center, showing himself in the NBA and FIBA games.

He was arguably the best passing center during his time in the league despite not working on his body much.

  • Awards: One All-Star, two Olympic silver medals, two World Cup gold medals, three Eurobasket gold medals
  • NBA Rankings: 30th in blocks, 51st in rebounds, 76th in steals, 163rd in assists, 202nd in scoring

19. Jonas Valančiūnas (Lithuania)

Jonas Valančiūnas‘ skill grows better as his career progresses; he went from being a role player early on to a good, above-average starter presently.

Because of his boulder-like shoulders, the huge Lithuanian is a double-double machine with a potent post-game.

For the 2018–19 season, he was traded for Marc Gasol after spending his first several years in the Great North.

  • Awards: All-Rookie 2nd Team, two Eurobasket silver medals
  • NBA Rankings: 145th in rebounds, 187th in blocks, 425th in scoring

20. Danilo Gallinari (Italy)

Danilo Gallinari is a large, accurate wing who can do more than just hit 3-pointers with his feet set.

He also has an underrated face-up and post-up game, though his defense may use some work.

  • Awards: One Euroleague Rising Star award, one Italian League MVP
  • NBA Rankings: 304th in scoring, 479th in rebounds

21. Domantas Sabonis (Lithuania)

Domantas Sabonis, a southpaw big man with playmaking, rebounding, and scoring skills down low, has grown into a well-rounded, All-Star-level big man and has already had a great NBA career than his father.

Son of Arvydas Sabonis, Domantas Sabonis, plays similarly to his father. He is a continuous triple-double threat and can do everything for a large man.

  • Awards: Two All-Stars
  • NBA Rankings: 430th in rebounds

22. Mehmet Okur (Turkey)

Mehmet Okur was a player before his time. He was one of the first stretch European players to play in the NBA, or at least one who would willingly bomb out from three.

The Turkish basketball player would shoot even more threes and have a higher scoring average in today’s NBA. He played for the Detroit Pistons, Utah Jazz, and New Jersey Nets.

  • Awards: One NBA title, one All-Star, one Eurobasket silver medal
  • NBA Rankings: 304th in blocks, 331st in rebounds, 483rd in scoring

23. Nicolas Batum (France)

Nicolas Batum was one of the pioneering 3-and-D swingmen who gained such popularity in the 2010s.

He was a role player who could fill in for other players throughout his career. On the other end, he could knock down open threes. Underrated playmaker as well.

  • Awards: One Olympic silver medal, two World Cup bronze medals, one Eurobasket gold medal
  • NBA Rankings: 193rd in assists, 229th in blocks, 245th in steals, 301st in rebounds, 376th in scoring

24. Šarūnas Marčiulionis (Lithuania)

Šarūnas Marčiulionis disproved a persistent myth that coaches in the NBA didn’t have faith in European pioneers by giving them playing time early in his NBA career.

  • Awards: Three Olympic medals, three Eurobasket medals, one Eurobasket MVP

25. Goran Dragić (Slovenia)

A point guard of the Chicago Bulls, with a lot of tenacity and intensity on the attack, Goran Dragić could often produce a fast break out of nothing.

He was also a skilled halfcourt scorer who could exploit screens to get to the hoop, where his iron-clad shoulders made him one of the best European players in the paint.

  • Awards: One All-NBA 3rd Team selection, one All-Star, one Most Improved Player award, one Eurobasket gold medal, one Eurobasket MVP award
  • NBA Rankings: 99th in assists, 256th in steals, 259th in scoring

26. Nikola Vucevic (Montenegro)

Nikola Vucevic is a tremendously gifted center who can grab double-doubles in his sleep. Because of his versatility with the hoop, he is particularly challenging to guard.

He played for the Philadelphia 76ers, Orlando Magic and Chicago Bulls.

  • Awards: Two All-Stars
  • NBA Rankings: 78th in rebounds, 185th in blocks, 236th in scoring, 413th in steals, 433rd in assists

27. Detlef Schrempf (Germany)

Detlef Schrempf was no slouch in the NBA, earning one All-NBA team and three All-Star appearances in his prime.

In the league, he was one of the few European players, and he went on to outperform everyone’s expectations.

  • Awards: One All-NBA 3rd Team, three All-Stars, two Sixth Man of the Year awards
  • NBA Rankings: 113th in rebounds, 120th in scoring, 136th in assists, 261st in steals, 454th in blocks

28. Peja Stojaković (Serbia)

Predrag Stojaković was among the finest shooters in the NBA then, but he is most commonly known as the second fiddle on those entertaining Chris Webber-led Sacramento King teams of the early 2000s.

During his career, Stojakovic shot over 40% from three-point range and twice led the league in free-throw shooting accuracy.

  • Awards: One NBA title, one All-NBA 2nd Team, three All-Stars, one World Cup gold medal, one Eurobasket gold medal, one Eurobasket MVP
  • NBA Rankings: 193rd in scoring, 335th in steals, 434th in rebounds

29. Ricky Rubio (Spain)

Ricky Rubio has had a terrific NBA and international career because of his brilliance as a passer and reliable ball-handling.

He played for Minnesota Timberwolves, Utah Jazz, Phoenix Suns, Indiana Pacers, and Cleveland Cavaliers.

  • Awards: Two Olympic medals, one World Cup gold medal, two Eurobasket gold medals, one World Cup MVP award, one Euroleague title
  • NBA Rankings: 69th in assists, 94th in steals

30. Nikos Galis (Greece)

After playing four years of college basketball at Seton Hall, Nikos Galis developed into one of the top scorers in FIBA history and helped to establish basketball in Greece.

  • Awards: One Eurobasket gold medal, one Eurobasket Most Valuable Player

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Some of the most frequent queries regarding the best European NBA players are listed below:

How Many European NBA Players Are Currently Playing?

There were 58 European NBA players. There are 120 international players in all, representing 40 distinct nations.

What Is the Difference Between the NBA and the Euroleague?

The EuroLeague’s three-point line is shorter. The number of personal fouls permitted per game and the placement of screens are two other regulation variations.

The NBA has more freestyle characteristics because the rules permit lax traveling. However, these regulations have recently been modified by European leagues.

Who Won the World Championship MVP Award in the NBA?

Nikola Jokić of the Denver Nuggets is the current recipient of the honor as of the 2021-22 season.

Who Is the Current MVP of the Euroleague?

The 2022 MVP of the EuroLeague was Nikola Mirotić.

Which Team Has the Most Wins in Their NBA Career?

The Boston Celtics have recorded the most wins.

Who Is the Finest European Player in the NBA?

Dirk Nowitzki is the greatest offensive forward in basketball history and the greatest player from Europe.

Conclusion

A decade of intriguing competition between the American and European games has resulted in some top American and European NBA players competing side by side.

Given how significantly the European and American play styles differ from one another, it has essentially come true. We have seen the results of the two play styles blending.

These European NBA players have wowed the NBA audience with electrifying performances.

In addition to having some of the best physiques in the league, they are all outstanding athletes.

Feature Image credit: Erik Drost, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons