The NBA has always been a magnet for some of the top players from around the world. It is a league that is seen as the pinnacle of competition in basketball. You can play in China and in Europe but you can really only compete in the US. Therefore, the player to bet on is the one that can make it in the big league. These giants from Europe have come across and are really making waves where it matters.
From those who have surprised to those who have dominated, we explore what these high-class players have brought that helps them compete so successfully in the NBA.
Even though Housten needed more from Clint Capela in the play-offs, he has still been an important part of the squad. With Kevin Durant ruled out due to a calf injury, it fell on Capel to step up and fill the gap. He is 6 foot 2 and 240 pounds, so a literal heavyweight near the basket, he has shown some efficiency collecting rebounds and landing shots near the basket. However, if he is going to continue to be a first pick, he is going to have to up his defensive game, especially against teams like the Lakers.
Most thought that the Thunder would head straight to the bottom of the league. Chronic underperformers, no one could see how they could improve. They had traded Paul George and Russell Westbrook but seemingly the talent they received in return was enough to help them get to the playoffs. Then Gallinari was acquired in the PG13 deal from the Clippers and raised the game of the Thunder even more. It goes to prove that an impact player can make all the difference to the performance of a squad.
Vucevic is quite possibly one of the best all-round centres in the NBA. While there are others that eclipse him in the basic skills, there is no one who does it all quite as well. You would pick Embild as a dominant centre and Gobert as the best defender, while Towns is the best 3 point shooter – but none have it all.
He should be seriously considered as a All-Star for the second year running. Orlando wouldn’t be without him.
If you watch the World Cup before the NBA season started, you could have predicted that Fournier was going to have a massive impact for Orlando. He is the most effective offensive talent on the squad and he is having the best season of his career. He had a shooting percentage of 51% from about 22 feet away from the basket. This is an awesome stat that makes you shake your head in disbelief.
Last summer was marked by some significant roster changes that dwarfed the change of Bognovic from Indiance to Utah. However quietly this move, the Jazz have earned themselves a sharp shooter who has blossomed into the league’s most promising shooter. He managed about 40% accuracy in his threes for a third season.
The feeling was that the Jazz were not playing to their full potential. Thanks to Gobert there is a definite sign that things have changed, as the Frenchman has proven integral to the squad’s success. It is not necessarily the attack play but his defensive skill has proven invaluable.
Jokic would not have made this list at the start of the season. He was unfit and looking sluggish around the court. Then, he re-emerged after conditioning to be the game’s premier offensive centre. For most, it was not at all a surprise, as his talent had been self-evident for all to see. He is deserving of an All-star appearance – and every inch of his 7-foot frame is valuable to this Serbian’s game.
Dallas have found themselves a superstar with figures that compete favourably with LeBron James, even though Concic missed four games with an ankle injury last season. As he is only in his second NBA season there is talk that his potential is to be one of the greats of all time. It does require him to stay healthy, which has proven a problem. However, he is definitely one to watch into the future.
There really is only one European in the NBA that we should give any attention to. Giannis is constantly under consideration for theMVP award, such is his importance to his squad. He is a massive presence on the court and is a four time NBA All-Star shooter. Known as the Greek Freak, he is averaging just over 30 points a game. His 3-shot has improved massively and arguably he has resolved the one area of his game that allowed pundits to question his right to be one considered a great of the game. He is now shooting nearly 32% of his 3 point shots, averaging 5 a game.