EuroBasket 2022: Luka, Giannis, Jokic, Gobert and the best NBA players in tournament history

Which players who have starred in EuroBasket have made the biggest contributions in the NBA?

This summer’s European men’s basketball championships have featured some of the world’s biggest talents, with three members of last season’s All-NBA First Team (Giannis AntetokounmpoLuka Doncic and Nikola Jokic) in action, along with three-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert.

All told, this year’s EuroBasket has boasted more than two dozen current NBA players as well as many more who previously played in the league and have since returned overseas.

Since FIBA allowed NBA players to represent their countries beginning in the 1991 European competition, a year before the Dream Team won gold in the Barcelona Olympics, there has been a long track record of EuroBasket NBA representation.

Starting with Detlef Schrempf, who actually played twice in EuroBasket before debuting in the NBA with the Dallas Mavericks, and continuing through the winners of the past four MVPs (Antetokounmpo and Jokic), let’s use my championships added career metric to rank the top 10 NBA players who have competed in EuroBasket.

10. Luka Doncic, Slovenia (0.30 champ. added)

We start with Doncic, a sure bet to move up this list in years to come — and perhaps eventually top it. After all, Luka is just 23 and has already moved ahead of several All-Stars almost exclusively based on the past three seasons. (Doncic contributed just 0.02 championships added as a rookie.)

If Luka merely keeps up this pace, he’ll be among the greatest NBA players ever. If he continues developing in his mid-20s, he’s got an excellent chance of joining the list of European MVPs and adding an NBA title to the EuroBasket crown he won with Slovenia the last time the tournament was played in 2017.

9. Peja Stojakovic, Serbia (0.32)

MVP of the 2001 EuroBasket while representing then-combined Serbia and Montenegro, Stojakovic would make the first of three consecutive All-Star appearances the following NBA season. One of the great shooters in league history, Stojakovic remains in the all-time top 25 in made 3-pointers despite their proliferation after his retirement in 2011.

8. Detlef Schrempf, West Germany (0.32)

After playing in EuroBasket in 1983 while at the University of Washington and in 1985 shortly after being drafted, Schrempf never returned as part of his career with the German national team post-reunification (which included the 1992 Olympics). Also a three-time All-Star, Schrempf twice won the Sixth Man of the Year award with the Indiana Pacers.

7. Marc Gasol, Spain (0.46)

A EuroBasket champion in both 2009 and 2011 alongside his brother Pau, Marc Gasol later developed into a three-time All-Star and two-time All-NBA selection. Gasol’s NBA career was highlighted by winning Defensive Player of the Year in 2012-13 and a championship with the Toronto Raptors in 2019.

6. Tony Parker, France (0.49)

Parker added a EuroBasket title in 2013 and three other podium finishes to the four titles he won with the San Antonio Spurs — including a Finals MVP award in their 2007 sweep of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

A six-time All-Star and four-time All-NBA selection, Parker is likely to make the Hall of Fame after he becomes eligible next year.

5. Rudy Gobert, France (0.50)

By virtue of his strong win shares totals in recent seasons, Gobert narrowly edges out his national teammate in championships added. (He’s one spot ahead of Parker among NBA players all time, not just among Europeans.)

With three All-Star appearances and four All-NBA honors, Gobert hasn’t been quite as decorated as Parker, but he can continue adding those totals after a trade sent him to the Minnesota Timberwolves this summer.

A no-doubt Hall of Famer as soon as he’s deemed eligible, Gasol is the all-time leading EuroBasket scorer and the only player in the NBA era to win tournament MVP twice (in 2009 and 2015, two of Spain’s three EuroBasket wins during his career).

Stateside, Gasol was a six-time All-Star and four-time All-NBA pick who won back-to-back championships with the Los Angeles Lakers alongside Kobe Bryant.

3. Nikola Jokic, Serbia (0.94)

We’ve reached the point where an MVP is a required credential for admittance. Jokic has won the past two awards, although he hasn’t made the same kind of postseason impact since the Denver Nuggets reached the conference finals in the 2020 bubble, the season before losing Jamal Murray to an ACL tear.

In the middle of his prime at age 27, Jokic has plenty of time to add to an already impressive championships added total. He’ll also have the opportunity for a deeper EuroBasket run after Serbia was upset by Italy in the round of 16 despite Jokic’s 32 points and 13 rebounds.

2. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Greece (1.18)

Another two-time MVP, Giannis cemented his place as one of the greatest NBA players ever when he led the Milwaukee Bucks to their first NBA title in five decades in 2020-21. Antetokounmpo was at the center of that run, coming back from a knee injury in the conference finals to dominate the Phoenix Suns in the Finals, capped by a historic 50-point closeout Game 6.

Like Jokic, Giannis is also 27 and could be well on his way to the greatest career ever for a European player. His second EuroBasket appearance ended like the first, in 2015, with a loss in the quarterfinal round Tuesday to host Germany.

1. Dirk Nowitzki, Germany (1.88)

For now, the crown of top European career lies with Nowitzki, who ranks 16th in NBA history in championships added. The league’s MVP in 2006-07, Dirk filled in the missing piece of his résumé by leading the Dallas Mavericks to the 2011 NBA title as Finals MVP.

Besides his high peak, Nowitzki also boasts longevity today’s current stars will have to match. He made 14 All-Star appearances and was named All-NBA 12 times during a 21-year career, a total surpassed by just six players in league history. Dirk won EuroBasket MVP in 2005, when he led Germany to a runner-up finish.

Honorable mentions

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