There are plenty of international stars in the NBA at the moment, but a few stand out above all the rest.
One of these players is on a team at the top of the NBA odds to win the Eastern Conference, and I think you know who he is without an introduction. After all, the fact that he’s from Southern Europe is right in his nickname.
Giannis Antetokounmpo or the Greek Freak at this point tops the list. There are other players who may be as good, but no one is more valuable to their team currently – with perhaps the exception of Kristaps when he was in NY– than Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Greek swing forward nearly took the Milwaukee Bucks to the NBA Finals last season and led the team to the league’s best record in 2018-2019 as well as the most wins the franchise has seen since 1981.
Point in case, in six of the Bucks’ last seven games, Giannis has scored 30 points or more – as of Monday, Nov. 18th. He even put up 38 twice, once against the Clippers and again against the Bulls. He scored 36 against the Toronto Raptors at the beginning of November, who are still one of the league’s top defensive units.
So far this season, he is averaging 30.1 points per game on 32.9 minutes of play. In addition to his 30 points, he snags 14.3 boards per game and distributes for 6.5 assists. The guy is a walking double-double. He’s averaged double-double numbers since 2017, making him one of the most valuable players in the entire NBA, not just from Europe.
Kristaps Porzingis is on a new team, so it might take a minute for him and them to figure out his role, or better stated, how to flow with the team. Well, it seems like he is integrating well. On Saturday, the Mavs faced the Raps and Kistaps put up 20 points … and grabbed 15 rebounds. In his first return to Madison Square Garden, he also put up a double-double, scoring 20 and snatching 11 boards.
He is currently averaging 18.6 points per game along with 9 rebounds and 2.4 blocks. But we should expect these numbers to go up into double-double averages as the Latvian starts to mesh with the Dallas Mavericks.
Luka Dončić is another European player who recently destroyed the Raptors. Alongside Porzingis this weekend, he put up 26 points, snatched 15 rebounds, and dished for 7 assists – oh, let’s not forget the 2 steals.
Luka is a rare blend of mid-size and Bball IQ and ball-handling skills. Often you see power forwards swing and take minutes at center, ore perhaps shooting guards take minutes at point guard or small forward, but rarely do you see a small forward swing to point guard. Because of his size and skill-set, Luka creates constant mismatches. For this reason, he is averaging darn near a triple-double so far this season. He’s putting up 28.5 points per game, 10.7 rebounds, and 9 assists … amazing! At just 20 years of age, this player might end up as one of the best European players ever to play in the NBA. He’s got a long, bright future ahead of him. And alongside Porzingis, the Dallas Mavericks are instant contenders.
Rudy Gobert and the Jazz are in 4th place in a crowded Western Conference right now. The French center put up 23 points and 17 rebounds in his last game against the Memphis Grizzlies and so far this season he is averaging a double-double.
Gobert’s ex-teammate, Ricky Rubio is another star European. The Spaniard is shining bright with the Suns, scoring more than 21 points per game in three of his last five. A back-court specialist is averaging 13.6 points per game, 6.3 rebounds, and 8.7 assists per game. These numbers are career-highs for each stat!
There are dozens of other great athletes to list, like Pau and Marc Gasol, Jusef Nurkic, Goran Dragic, Serge Ibaka, Nikola Jokic and more … but this article would turn into a book! So, there are five of the top Europeans who are performing phenomenally in 2019.