Believe it or not, there are American basketball fans that do not know a European basketball league exists, or any other basketball association outside that of America. The sport of basketball remains one of the more popular international sports of our time. With its genesis taking place in America, the sport has since migrated across the Atlantic and to other parts of the world as well. Since then, common questions and debates have surfaced about the similarities and differences between the two leagues; is one more competitive than the other? Do the Americans focus more on individuality than the Europeans? Here are some of the key differences between the two.
When you look at the scoring statistics for the Euroleague for the 2015-2016 regular season, one thing you’ll notice is that the average of points per individual in European games is considerably lower than that of American games. For instance, for the NBA, you’ll see Stephen Curry’s points-per-game average at around 31 points. For the Euroleague, the highest average so far is only 18 points, for Malcolm Delaney, a player born in the U.S.
You may simply conclude that this means competition throughout the Euroleague is simply tougher than the NBA’s. This is certainly an argument worth furthering, but the fact that the rules of the NBA centre far more on one-on-one play and scoring than those of the Euroleague is a major contributing factor as well. Think of it like playing mobile bingo apps on bingo websites (like bingo-apps.co.uk for example) versus Family Feud; although the latter has individual components, they don’t define the game itself. The way basketball is played in Europe is not as fast-paced and focused on the individual like it is in the NBA, for the most part.
The American Pace
One of the things the NBA has that the Euroleague does not (which, in large, contributes to the existence of most of the major differences) is an insane schedule of games. When asked by Business Insider about the transition he had to make from coaching in Europe for 21 years to coaching in the NBA, David Blatt, the rookie head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers, mentioned this exact point. “Probably the schedule. Playing multiple games the same week with very few practices, and having a different recovery process, is unknown territory. The good thing is…trips are shorter and much smoother in the U.S.” This change of pace is a common struggle European players face when making the same transition.
By and large, these are the two primary differences between the two leagues. But where one may be lacking in one area, it makes up for in others. At the end of the day, it’s all about enjoying and sharing the growing love for the sport.