Greatest European NBA players: Six of the best to cross the Atlantic
Greatest European NBA players, basketball, Dirk Nowitzki

Greatest European NBA players: Six of the best to cross the Atlantic

To celebrate Serbia’s Nikola Jokic leading Denver Nuggets to their first title triumph, we’re taking a look at the greatest European NBA players of all-time.

Many past and present stars have made a big impression across the Atlantic, but here’s our top six picks:

Dirk Nowitzki (Germany)

The 7ft power forward earned a place in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame for his exploits with Dallas. Nowitzki was actually selected by Milwaukee as the ninth pick in the 1998 NBA draft but they immediately traded him to the Mavericks. The German went on to become a franchise legend, leading them to the 2011 championship, four years after being voted the NBA MVP. A 14-time All-Star, he was sixth on the NBA all-time scoring list at the time of his retirement with 31,560 points and is a Lifetime Achievement winner at the Laureus World Sports Awards.

Giannis Antetokounmpo (Greece)

Born in Athens of Nigerian heritage, the Greek Freak has tormented NBA defences ever since being picked 15th overall by Milwaukee in 2013. Another 7ft power forward, Antetokounmpo is a two-time NBA MVP in 2019 and 2020 and was voted the star of the 2021 finals when leading the Bucks to their first championship since 1971. His All-Star selection tally stands at seven, including being the Eastern Conference captain in 2019, 2020 and 2023.

Tony Parker (France)

Another European member of the Basketball Hall of Fame, Parker was born in Belgian city Bruges but raised in France, where his father was playing professionally. Having caught the eye with Paris Basket Racing, the 6ft 2in point guard was a first-round draft pick for San Antonio in 2001 and went on to secure four title triumphs with the Spurs in 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2014. Famed for his electric speed, Parker was voted NBA Finals MVP in the third of those victories and closed his career with 19,473 points and 7,036 assists.

Pau Gasol (Spain)

A six-time NBA All-Star, Gasol won two championships with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2009 and 2010. Originally picked third overall in the 2001 draft by Atlanta, he was traded to the Grizzlies and was named rookie of the year for his exploits in Memphis. Following six seasons with that franchise, the 7f 1in power forward went on to represent the Lakers (2008–2014), the Bulls (2014–2016), the Spurs (2016–2019) and the Bucks (2019). Impressively athletic for his size, Gasol posted 20,894 career points in the NBA and led Spain to great success on the international stage.

Nikola Jokic (Serbia)

The 6ft 11in center is already a five-time All-Star and followed his NBA MVP gongs in 2021 and 2022 by inspiring Denver to end their title drought in 2023. Jokic, who ended the campaign as the first player in history to lead the playoffs in points, rebounds and assists, had his history-making post-season rewarded by being named Finals MVP. The Joker has proved an absolute steal after being taken in the second round of the 2014 draft by the Nuggets and is widely regarded as one of the greatest passers among big men in NBA history, using his size and vision to set up teammates.

Luka Doncic (Slovenia)

Following a successful stint with Real Madrid, the 6ft 7in point guard was selected with the third overall pick by Atlanta in the 2018 NBA draft and then traded to Dallas. Doncic justified being made favourite to win the rookie of the year award and has gone on to secure four All-Star nominations. Bigger accolades have yet to come his way, but the 24-year-old has been hailed as “incredible with the ball for a big guy” by former teammate Nowitzki, who added: “His court vision is unbelievable. He’s going to pick defenses apart and it’s going to be fun to watch.”

Join bwin today and receive up to £20 money back as a FreeBet if your first wager (3+ selections at odds of 1/2 (1.5) or greater) is a loser! Terms and conditions apply.

NBA betting