Top 4 European Players Who Played in the NBA

min read
Pau Gasol lifting the trophy at Eurobasket 2011.
(Wikimedia Commons/Christopher Johnson)
Anatoly Pimentel @AnatolyPimentel Sep 29, 2022, 9:21 PM
  • Here’s a list of European players who played in the NBA.
  • Toni Kukoc leads the list.

The international movement in the NBA is apparent in this era as superstars like Giannis Antetounmpo, Luka Doncic, Nikola Jokic and Joel Embiid are leading their respective teams to title contention which makes NBA odds more exciting. One of the continents that have produced the most international players is Europe.

Europe’s style of play is continuously evolving, allowing them to develop more NBA-ready prospects who can immediately impact the league. But before the current European players were thriving and making headlines today, some icons paved the way for them. Here’s a list of the top four European players who played in the NBA.

Toni Kukoc – Croatia

Coming out of Croatia, Toni Kukoc was drafted by the Chicago Bulls as a second-round draft pick in the 1990 NBA Draft. Kukoc played his first NBA game two years after getting selected in 1993 and became an instant contributor for the team, where he averaged over 10 points per game coming off the bench.

The 6’11 big man was also one of the pioneers of a stretch big where a center can shoot perimeter jumpers and even three-point shots. With his style of play, the Croatian Sensation collected the Sixth Man of the Year Award in 1996 and was part of the All-Rookie Second Team in 1994. Additionally, he won three titles with the Bulls.

Pau Gasol – Spain

Pau Gasol is the first Spaniard in the NBA who greatly impacted his team. Drafted as the third overall pick by the Atlanta Hawks, the 7-foot center was shipped to the Grizzlies via trade. Gasol instantly became the face of the franchise by leading the team’s offense, where he played for eight seasons before another trade got him to the Los Angeles Lakers.

In Los Angeles, the soft-shooting big man has ascended into an NBA All-Star and was selected for a total of six all-star games. Additionally, Pau Gasol has helped the purple and gold franchise win back-to-back championships in 2009 and 2010 as he became the second option on offense. Overall, the Spaniard averaged a career number of 17.0 points, 9.2 rebounds and 3.2 assists.

Tony Parker – France

Pau Gasol was not only the successful player in the 2001 NBA Draft because the San Antonio Spurs found another gem in the form of Tony Parker, who was selected as the 28th pick. The French guard established himself as San Antonio’s primary point guard and utilized his skillset fully to succeed.

The flashy playmaker was a master of the floater shot, which allowed him to have a career average of 15.5 points, 5.6 assists and 2.7 rebounds. Parker appeared in six NBA All-Star games and was part of San Antonio’s annual title run in the 2000s. He is also one of the reasons why the Spurs won four titles (including an NBA Finals MVP award in 2007) during his time with the team.

Dirk Nowitzki – Germany

Before Stephen Curry revolutionized the game with his incredible three-point shooting, Dirk Nowitzki has pioneered the seven-footers to consistently shoot the long ball and add it to their arsenal. This allowed Nowitzki to finish his legendary career as the sixth in all-time points with 31,560 and the greatest Mavericks player.

The 7-foot German also won a Season MVP award in 2007, was selected in the NBA All-Star Game 14 times, was a member of the All-NBA 1st Team four times and won one NBA title (and the Finals MVP honors) during his career. Additionally, Nowitzki is the record-holder for a player who played for one team throughout his career with 21 seasons.

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About the Author

Anatoly Pimentel

Read More @AnatolyPimentel

Anatoly Pimentel is an NBA and MMA writer previously featured in ASEAN Sports, Asian Persuasion MMA, and Overtime Heroics MMA. He graduated from Adamson University with B.A in Communication and is currently a Web Content Writer for BetMGM.

Anatoly Pimentel is an NBA and MMA writer previously featured in ASEAN Sports, Asian Persuasion MMA, and Overtime Heroics MMA. He graduated from Adamson University with B.A in Communication and is currently a Web Content Writer for BetMGM.