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10 Greatest European NBA Players of All-Time

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European NBA players are a common sight in the league nowadays. However, that wasn’t always the case, and guys like Vlade Divac or Arvydas Sabonis had to break a lot of stereotypes to get a shot in the greatest basketball league on Earth.

Multiple guys didn’t get the chance because of a false narrative of European players being unathletic, bad defenders, or slow. Now, the game has finally become more global and the league has opened its doors to hoopers from all across the globe.

That’s why today, we’re set to honor some of the guys who made that possible and some of the best players in today’s game, letting you know all there is to know about the top 10 greatest European NBA players in league history.

Toni Kukoc

Toni Kukoc‘s name isn’t mentioned often when talking about the best European basketball players, which is mind-boggling. He was the best player overseas and proved it in the Olympics before finally making his way to the league, where he earned Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen‘s respect.

Kukoc’s game was ahead of his time, and he would’ve been tailor-made for today’s NBA. He was a smart player, a willing playmaker, and an outstanding shooter from all three levels, not to mention tough as nails. He won three titles and was named Sixth Man of the Year once.


Peja Stojakovic

If Peja Stojakovic played today, he would end his career as one of the greatest overseas players in NBA history. Today’s pace-and-space game would be perfect for his sharpshooting skills, and he was always a serviceable role player wherever he went.

Stojakovic was a three-time All-Star in his prime and won the league’s three-point shootout twice, averaging 17.0 points per game despite not being a primary scorer.  He could’ve had a better NBA career if he hadn’t started off overseas, but he was one of the first truly deadly scorers to earn praise and recognition despite being European.

Rudy Gobert

People can hate on Rudy Gobert, the salary, and what the Minnesota Timberwolves gave up to get him all they want, but it’s just a fact that he’s one of the best European players ever.

He’s been a defensive stalwart for almost a decade now, winning the second-most Defensive Player of the Year awards ever (3).  He’s also made it to six All-Defensive teams, is a three-time All-Star, and led the league in rebounds and blocks once. You may or may not like him, but he could even end up in the Hall of Fame with those three DPOY awards alone.

Luka Doncic

It didn’t take long before Luka Doncic proved to be one of the best NBA players from Europe in the history of this game, and chances are he’s going to end his career way higher on this list, perhaps even sitting top of the pile.


The Real Madrid standout has toyed with NBA defenders for a living, and his game resembles a modern day’s Larry Bird minus the defense. He’s an elite playmaker, a perennial MVP candidate, and he’s been an All-Star five times in as many years in the league. Doncic also has four All-NBA nods and was named Rookie of the Year. He’s just getting started, and he’ll be a problem for years.

Marc Gasol

Marc Gasol was a bit of an afterthought when he first entered the league. Then, he proved to be way more than Pau Gasol‘s ‘little’ brother, establishing himself as one of the best defenders and most cerebral players in the game, perhaps with a higher basketball IQ than Pau.

An extension of the coach on the hardwood, Gasol was a three-time All-Star and a Defensive Player of the Year winner, and he made two All-NBA selections. He also won an NBA championship with the Toronto Raptors.

Tony Parker

Tony Parker might not be the fastest, strongest, most athletic, or even flashiest guy out there, but he still was one of the most influential and dominant point guards of his generation. He paved the way for many European NBA players who came after him with his craftiness, basketball IQ, and meticulous way to lead an offense.

Parker was instrumental in four NBA championships, even being named Finals MVP once. The Hall of Famer was a six-time All-Star and retired with the most assists in San Antonio Spurs history.

Giannis Antetokounmpo

The Milwaukee Bucks were the butt of the joke when they took a lanky kid by the name of Giannis Antetokounmpo in the first round of the NBA Draft. Fast forward to today, and this late bloomer is now a future first-ballot Hall of Famer.

Giannis led the Bucks to their first NBA championship in five decades, and he’s established himself as one of the best two-way players of all time. Thus far, he’s won two MVPs, one Finals MVP, is an eight-time All-Star, has made it to seven All-NBA teams, six All-Defensive teams, and will go down as the greatest Buck ever, even ahead of the likes of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar or Oscar Robertson.

Pau Gasol

Pau Gasol was one of the best European basketball players as soon as he made the pros, so it wasn’t shocking to see him make the jump to the NBA at a time when not many players got that opportunity. He was often overlooked and underrated because of his lack of success before joining Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers, but they would never have found that much success without him.

The Hall of Famer was instrumental in back-to-back championships and three consecutive trips to the NBA Finals. He was also a six-time All-Star, a four-time All-NBA selection, a Rookie of the Year, and his résumé overseas is pretty much unmatched.

Nikola Jokic

Nikola Jokic is just starting to write his basketball legacy. He’s already considered to be the greatest passing big man this game has ever seen, and he’s redefining the center position. The modern center will have to be able to pass the rock and stretch the floor with his shooting, just like the Denver Nuggets’ big man.

He was a bit of a late bloomer, taken in the second round during a Taco Bell commercial, but he quickly became one of most successful second-round picks of all-time.

Now, he’s an NBA champion, a two-time MVP, an NBA Finals MVP,  a six-time All-Star with five All-NBA selections, and will go down as the greatest player in Denver Nuggets history and the franchise record-holder in multiple regards.

Dirk Nowitzki

Dirk Nowitzki needed some time to silence his critics, but he never looked back once he took off. Often deemed slow and unathletic, he revolutionized his offensive game to make sure to get an edge over everybody else. His signature one-legged fadeaway became the most unstoppable shot since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar‘s skyhook, and it helped him score over 30,000 career points, the most by an European player, and the sixth-most all-time.

Dirk led the Dallas Mavericks to their only two trips to the NBA Finals and their lone championship. He won one MVP, one Finals MVP, was a 14-time All-Star with 12 All-NBA selections, and is one of the few members of the 50/40/90 club, so there’s no wondering why he was a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

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