Over the years, there has been an influx of the European players in the NBA. Some of the first names who stepped onto the scene would be Tony Parker, Dirk Nowitzki as well as Detlef Schrempf. These players showed an all around skill set that was vital to be successful in the NBA. As the rise of European players increases, more and more of these prospects are the best coming out of their respective drafts.
The aspect of playing against professionals is crucial for these young players. They get their first taste of what real, hard nosed basketball is like. The presence of the Euroleague helps out dramatically. Top prospects are playing against grown men which gives them a good taste of what the competition will be like professionally.
Up and coming superstar Luka Dončic had played in the Euroleague for about 4 seasons before coming to the NBA. Dončic was playing against the highest level of competition and he immediately knew what to expect. He thrived and ended up winning the Euroleague MVP and in the 2017 season, he brought his country of Slovenia the national championship. While Dončic was playing against professionals, he figured out how to play and began to get very crafty with his arsenal. The 4 years helped him out big time, as he is in the race for MVP in just his second season.
Basketball in America seems very highlight oriented compared to Europe. American highlight films can consist of young players doing dunks or making 30 foot three pointers. European basketball seems boring to some. Emphasized ball movement, off ball screens, taking good shots and making the right play. Although it is boring, the simple techniques and mechanics are what NBA teams nowadays are preaching. Someone who can come in and make all the right plays with absolutely no hesitation.
Coaches especially look for players and prospects who can make the right decisions. Gregg Popovich, the coach of the San Antonio Spurs is the most infamous for playing a “boring” style of basketball. He emphasizes ball movement, good shoot selection and making the right play. The Spurs ended up winning 5 championships because of making all the little plays. As boring as European basketball and players might seem, they are instilled with making the right decision all the time.
With making the right decision comes with understanding all areas of the game. Many of these players and prospects have a well rounded game. They are good at all areas of the game, whether if it passing, shooting, finishing and playing defense. However, there is not usually one area that they excel at, compared to prospects in American basketball. Some of the most talented players were seen as players who didn’t excel at one particular thing but ended up thriving.
Detlef Schrempf played for the Seattle SuperSonics and ended up being a 2 time sixth man of the year award winner, as well as 3 time all star. Schrempf showed off his entire skill set, being the only player to average 6 assists while being a sixth man off the bench. Not only Schrempf, but Dirk Nowitzki was just seen as a player who wasn’t good at one thing coming out of his respective draft. He proved that an all around game can lead to huge accomplishments. Dirk ended up winning an NBA championship in 2011, as well as a Finals MVP and a regular season MVP in 2006-07.
These awards are for players who have mastered their craft. Two of the top European basketball players have paved the way for future European players and prospects to thrive and show that fundamental basketball can lead to great success.