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The top five European players in NBA history

Lots of European players have graced the NBA over the years, we have narrowed it down to the five best.

Despite the majority of NBA greats being from the United States of America, there has been many to come from Europe and dominate the league.

Including two current stars - even one without any rings or MVP awards - we select the five best to come from Europe to play in the NBA.

5. Pau Gasol

Pau Gasol and his brother Marc both enjoyed a terrific NBA career, but it is the older of the two who makes our top five.

The No.3 pick in 2001 won two titles with the Los Angeles Lakers alongside Kobe Bryant and was named an All-Star on six occasions. In 2002, Gasol became the first foreign player to be named Rookie of the Year after averaging 17.6 points and 8.9 rebounds per game for the Memphis Grizzlies.

The Spaniard scored over 20,000 points and grabbed over 11,000 rebounds in his career and was also successful at international level, winning three Olympic medals.

4. Luka Doncic

Including a player who is in their early 20s is perhaps a bit bold, but Luka Doncic merits this position after his first few years in the NBA.
Doncic has been in the league for four years and is already a 3x All-Star and 2x All-NBA First Team member. At 6ft 7in, the Slovenian is a nightmare matchup for any other point guard and it's only a matter of time before he wins his first MVP.
The Dallas Mavericks man scored 42 points in his playoff debut and recorded three triple-doubles in his first seven playoff games, becoming the first player in NBA history to do this. His achievements to date are astounding, Doncic has broke record after record already, and he's just getting started.

3. Tony Parker

The most decorated player on this list when it comes to championships won, Frenchman Tony Parker is a 4x NBA champion and spent 17 years as a San Antonio Spur.
Drafted in the same year as Gasol, but 25 places after the Spaniard, Parker was the starting point guard for the Spurs for the vast majority of his career and was named Finals MVP in 2007 when the Spurs swept the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Parker retired as the ninth leading scorer in Playoff history and incidentally had his No. 9 retired by the Spurs after his glorious career came to an end.

2. Giannis Antetokounmpo

'The Greek Freak', Giannis Antetokounmpo, is already the second-best European player in NBA history and is on course to be the best.
In 2020/21, Antetokounmpo won his first title and was fittingly named Finals MVP after the Milwaukee Bucks beat the Phoenix Suns in six games. Drafted No. 15 in 2013, his career really kicked on after winning the Most Improved Player award in 2017.
Giannis is a 2x MVP, 6x All-Star, 3x All-NBA First Team member, 1x Defensive Player of the Year and 3x All-Defensive First Team member.
With his amazing athleticism, scoring ability and defensive skillset, the Bucks big man will keep improving and is likely to take home more NBA awards and claim more rings.

1. Dirk Nowitzki

Despite the number of terrific European stars to play in the biggest basketball league in the world, Dirk Nowitzki is comfortably the greatest.

The 7ft German spent his entire 21-year career with the Mavericks and claimed one of the most famous Finals victories in NBA history in 2011.

Dallas took on the Miami Heat, who had one of the greatest big three's ever in LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. With Miami leading 2-1, Nowitzki was unwell but managed to rally and score 21 points as the Mavericks won Game 4. The game is legendary and known as the 'Fever Game'.

As well as the infamous Finals and Finals MVP win against LeBron and co, Dirk was named league MVP in 2007. On top of this, he was a 14x All-Star and named in the All-NBA team 12 times.
Despite his size, he could score from anywhere, drain free throws with his eyes closed, grab rebounds and defend very well. Nowitzki is one of three players with at least 30,000 points, 10,000 rebounds, 3,000 assists, 1,000 steals and 1,000 blocks.

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