Euro Ball Kings: The Best 20 European Men’s NBA Players Ruling the World’s Top League

best european nba players

It’s the best basketball league in the world – and the toughest to succeed in. 

The National Basketball Association (NBA) is a formidable challenge for any player coming from Europe, but the best European NBA players have done it in style. 

There were 64 European players in NBA teams in the 2023-24 season, according to official statistics, including a record-breaking 14 from France. 

But which of these athletes are making the most impact?

                                                      Source: NBA Official Instagram

We decided to find out by asking people in the know. Coaches Alessandro Di Pasquale, Pascal Meurs, and Rui Costa have almost 50 years of experience working with young players between them, so they know top European NBA players when they see them 

We also gathered the opinions of up-and-coming pro Hugo Gomez and recently retired pro Dario Suarez, who has over two decades of experience under his belt.

Ready? Let’s find out the best European NBA players around right now, according to the experts.

Want to find out how the best European players prepare themselves for big basketball occasions? Get in touch with EuroProBasket today and find out how we can put you at the top of your game.

The 20 best European NBA players in the world right now

From Spain to Serbia, Norway to Greece, the best European NBA players come from all over the continent.

However, one thing they have in common is a fierce basketball talent that has seen them rise to the top of their game. They also shine in the eyes of our six basketball experts: the following rankings combine all of their opinions. 

Read on for a rundown of the 20 best Europe basketballers in the NBA right now: starting with the Famous Five who are at the top of everyone’s list. 

The 5 most famous European basketball players in the NBA

To succeed in the NBA, Europe basketball players must match their American opponents throw for throw.

These five top European basketball players do more than that, however. Here are the Famous 5 taking the NBA by storm.

1. Luka Doncic

Considered one of the best players of all time, Luka Doncic left Slovenia at the age of 13 to rise through the ranks of Real Madrid, one of the very best European basketball teams, where he won various youth honors.

His arrival in America saw him drafted by the Atlanta Hawks and then traded to the Dallas Mavericks in 2018, where he won the NBA Rookie of the Year Award in 2019, then five consecutive NBA All-Star selections up until this season. He also became the league’s leading scorer. 

His exceptional blend of scoring, playmaking, and rebounding for his size and position means he’s already considered a special talent with the potential to join the GOAT conversation (with the likes of Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and Lebron)  someday.

2. Nikola Jokic 

Jokić, nicknamed “the Joker,” is a Serbian center for the Denver Nuggets and is widely considered one of the greatest centers ever.

The Joker is lauded for his passing, scoring, and rebounding. Drafted in the second round, Jokić defied expectations, becoming a multiple All-Star, All-NBA selection, and now, a three-time NBA MVP.

His achievements include leading the Nuggets to their first championship and earning NBA Finals MVP honors. 

Jokić boasts the third-most career triple-doubles by an international player and holds the record for the fastest triple-double ever achieved. He’s a truly unique talent, reaching the pinnacle of his sport despite lacking traditional athleticism.

3. Giannis Antetokounmpo

Giannis Antetokounmpo, nicknamed the “Greek Freak,” is a force of nature on the court. 

At only 28, his accolades speak volumes, including:

  • Two MVP awards and an NBA championship, along with Finals MVP honors.
  • Defensive Player of the Year and multiple All-Defensive selections.
  • International star performances for Greece.

His incredible athleticism and relentless motor make him a nightmare matchup for opponents. While shooting may be a weakness, his overall game is already legendary and he could go on to be one of the all-time greats.

4. Rudy Gobert

French center Rudy Gobert is a defense superstar and one of the best Western European NBA players of all time

He boasts four Defensive Player of the Year awards, tying him for the most ever alongside Dikembe Mutombo and Ben Wallace. He’s also a six-time All-Defensive First-Team selection.

But it’s not just at the back where he shines. Gobert is also a beast on the boards, even leading the league in rebounds per game during the 2021-22 season. His skills have led him to earn three All-Star selections.

With the Minnesota Timberwolves, Gobert has a chance to silence doubters and push for big success. 

5. Victor Wembanyama

Victor Wembanyama, a young French phenom, is taking the NBA world by storm. 

Considered a generational talent by many of the best basketball coaches in Europe, he was drafted first overall by the San Antonio Spurs in 2023. Wembanyama’s immense size (7’3.5″) is matched by his agility and shooting skills, making him a truly versatile player. 

He had an impressive rookie season, breaking records and earning Rookie of the Year honors: his debut jersey even sold at Sotheby’s for an incredible $762,000. 

With his talent and work ethic, Wembanyama is poised to be a dominant force in the NBA for years to come, with some people even comparing him to the likes of Lebron and Michael Jordan.

The 15 “Best of the Rest”

While the following stars don’t quite make the “best of the best European players in the NBA” list, their achievements are still impressive.

Here are the 15 European basketball players in the NBA that are the “Best of the Rest”.

6. Bojan Bogdanovic

Bojan Bogdanović isn’t your average second-round draft pick. Carving his path, this Croatian sharpshooter has become a respected and feared scorer in the USA.

After honing his craft in the EuroLeague, he bounced around a few NBA teams early on, proving his worth as a reliable scorer coming off the bench. His shooting prowess, particularly from three-point range, quickly drew attention.

In 2019, Bogdanović landed a pivotal role with the Utah Jazz, where he truly came into his own. He emerged as a key starter, even hitting clutch game-winning buzzer-beaters. His confidence soared, and he often exceeded 30 points in a game.

Now with the New York Knicks, Bogdanović brings his veteran experience and scoring threat to a new team. 

While injuries cut his 2024 season short, there’s no doubt he’ll be a valuable asset, lighting up the scoreboard and thrilling Knicks fans with his signature deep shots.

7. Domantas Sabonis

Southpaw big man Domantas Sabonis isn’t just a rebounding machine; he’s a highly skilled, well-rounded player who has developed into a true All-Star talent. 

Following in the footsteps of his Hall of Fame father, Arvydas Sabonis, Domantas has carved his own impressive path in the NBA.

Sabonis brings a lot to the table. He boasts a polished skillset that includes scoring chops down low, exceptional passing ability, and a surprising agility for his size. 

These talents have earned him not just three All-Star appearances, but also a recent All-NBA Third Team selection, making him one of the league’s elite big men.

8. Lauri Markkanen

Lauri Markkanen burst onto the NBA scene as a young force with a unique skill set for his size. This seven-footer can play multiple positions and is a real threat from beyond the arc.

His trade to Cleveland in 2021 proved to be a turning point. There, he embraced the role of starting small forward and thrived alongside rookie big men Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen. Their unconventional “Tower City” lineup challenged the league’s small-ball trend with surprising success.

Now with the Utah Jazz, Markkanen has fully blossomed. In the 2022-23 season, he earned his first All-Star selection, won the Most Improved Player award, and shattered franchise records. 

He also became the first player in NBA history to record 100 dunks and 200 three-pointers in a single season – a stunning achievement.

9. Nikola Vucevic

Vucevic has carved out a successful career in the NBA, earning himself a reputation as the best Chicago Bulls center since Pau Gasol.

 A two-time NBA All-Star (2019, 2021), Vucevic has also been recognized as Eastern Conference Player of the Week three times throughout his career.

Looking at his stats, Vucevic averages a respectable 17.1 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 2.8 assists per game. He also ranks second in rebounds and third in points scored in Magic history, and even holds the franchise record for most field goals made (4,490).  His scoring prowess isn’t limited by range, either, as he’s recorded career-highs of 43 points and 19 rebounds.

While Vucevic struggles defensively, his ability to score in the paint, and shoot from mid-range and beyond the arc more than makes up for it.

10. Kristaps Porziņģis

Kristaps Porziņģis, nicknamed “The Unicorn” for his unique blend of size and shooting,  has wowed fans with his shot-blocking prowess and smooth three-point stroke. 

His ascent to the top, however,  has been marred by injuries, including a devastating ACL tear in 2018. Yet after trades to the Mavs and Washington, Porziņģis battled back from criticism and inconsistency. 

He silenced doubters who nicknamed him “Pandemic P” for perceived playoff struggles by rediscovering his All-Star caliber play. 

Now a key contributor for the Boston Celtics, Porziņģis’ resurgence played a vital role in their 2024 NBA championship run.

11. Jonas Valanciunas

First drafted by the Toronto Raptors in 2011 (5th overall), Jonas Valančiūnas has carved out a successful 12-year NBA career and is known for his strong rebounding and interior presence.

After early success with the Raptors, he’s enjoyed spells with the Memphis Grizzlies and his current team Pelicans, where he recently signed a new contract. 

The Lithuanian has earned a rep for being a double-double machine, and he notched his first triple-double with the Grizzlies in 2019. 

Like a fine wine, Valanciunas is getting better with age, and he earned a spot in the  All-FIBA World Cup Second Team in 2023.

12. Dennis Schroeder

Dennis Schröder’s NBA stats might not jump off the page (ranking 200th in assists and 418th in scoring currently), but his impact in big games is undeniable.

One of the best point guards around, he’s known for his confident scoring out of the backcourt and he’s been a consistent performer in the NBA since his first draft in 2013. 

Schröder also shone internationally, helping Germany to a surprising World Cup title (earning MVP honors in the process) and a bronze medal at EuroBasket ‘22.

Now into his 30s, Schröder is entering the final stage of his career, and one thing’s for sure: the NBA will miss him when he’s gone.

13. Franz Wagner

Forward Franz Wagner is making a name for himself in the NBA with some points hauls not seen from a German since the days of Dirk Nowitzki.

After starting his career with Alba Berlin in his native country, he impressed college scouts and joined the Michigan Wolverines. There, he showed off his scoring ability and earned All-Freshman honors.

Drafted by the Orlando Magic in 2021, Wagner quickly adapted to the pro game. He was named Rookie of the Month in December and earned a spot on the All-Rookie First Team. 

Now in his third season, Wagner is a key scorer for the Magic, averaging nearly 20 points per game. He even led them to a playoff victory with a dominant rebounding performance.

Wagner’s success extends to the international stage. He’s a regular on the German national team, helping them win bronze at EuroBasket 2022 and gold at the 2023 World Cup, where he was named All-World Cup Second Team.

14. Clint Capela

Swiss-born Clint Capela isn’t your typical center. After early struggles, basketball became his passion. 

He dominated France’s pro league before the Rockets drafted him in 2014. Capela blossomed into a rebounding machine and defensive leader, even leading the NBA in field goal percentage. 

In 2020, he joined the Atlanta Hawks, showcasing his rim protection with a career-high 10 blocks. Now, the “Swiss Tower” continues to dominate games, recently grabbing 21 rebounds in a play-in win

Capela’s upward trajectory is down to his hard work and knack for being in the right place at the right time.

15. Danilo Gallinari 

Danilo Gallinari’s more than just a deep threat.  He’s got a sneaky good post and drive game, making him a nightmare for the opposition to play against. 

A EuroLeague champion and Italian MVP, he brings international flair and winning experience.  Beyond shooting, his basketball knowledge shines. While defense isn’t his forte, his hustle and experience add value. 

Injuries haven’t stopped his passion over his career, and he now enters his playing twilight looking for further success with the Milwaukee Bucks looking for further on-court success.

16. Evan Fournier

While Fournier may not dominate any single offensive statistic in the NBA, his international resume paints a different picture. 

Boasting a collection of medals – including a silver at the Olympics, two World Cup bronzes, and two Eurobasket bronzes  –  Fournier thrives on the global stage. He has a well-rounded skillset, comfortable scoring from all three levels and finding teammates effectively. 

This versatility translates well to the international game, where a balanced attack is often key to success. 

Despite his low average NBA scoring rank, Fournier is a proven winner on the international stage, with his clutch ability and adaptability being his key strengths.

17. Jusuf Nurkić

Jusuf Nurkić, the Suns’ 7-foot Bosnian center, is a post-dominating scorer with surprising footwork, but his true strength lies on the glass. 

Averaging nearly nine rebounds per game, he even snagged a staggering 31 this season, the most in over a decade! 

This relentless pursuit of the ball, combined with his developing mid-range shot, makes him a unique and valuable asset. 

Nurkić is a force on the boards, a threat with his passing, and a player constantly pushing himself to become a more complete offensive threat.

18. Alperen Sengun 

Şengün was technically born in the Asian part of Turkey, but we can make a small exception seeing as some parts of his nation are classed as within Europe.

This young center is quickly becoming a force in the NBA and is one of the best Eastern European NBA players. He boasts a polished post game, surprising his opponents with his footwork and ability to score in the paint. 

But Şengün isn’t a one-trick pony.  He’s a gifted passer with a high basketball IQ, making him a threat even when double-teamed. His soft touch around the rim and developing mid-range shot further expand his offensive arsenal.  

These skills combined with his smart playmaking make Şengün a standout European prospect with the potential to become a star in the NBA.

19. Jakob Poeltl

Jakob Pöltl may not be a household name, but the Austrian big man has quietly become a crucial piece for the Toronto Raptors. 

Pöltl has averaged a near-double-double for the past two seasons, showing consistent production on both ends of the court.

Standing at 7-foot-1, Pöltl is a force at the back. He ranked among the best European NBA players in 2023 thanks to his rebounding and blocks, yet while these stats paint one picture, advanced metrics reveal Pöltl’s true impact. His Player Efficiency Rating (PER) of 21.0 last season indicates a highly efficient player.

At 27 years old, Pöltl is entering his prime. Look for him to continue being a defensive anchor and a key contributor for the Raptors for years to come.

20. Jeremy Sochan

Jeremy Sochan may not have been around long, but he’s got the talent to become a long-term fixture on the NBA stars list. 

Drafted ninth by San Antonio Spurs in his debut season and now one of the best European point guards in the league, he’s quickly shown that he’s an all-round player, combining impressive athleticism with a developing basketball IQ to become an important member of the team.

His numbers may not be anything just special yet but expect to hear more about this kid who holds Polish nationality through his mother. 

So, there you have it: the best European NBA players on the planet, each bringing a unique blend of skill, athleticism, and international flair to the game. Who would you choose?

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