Mitnick: Top 50 American Players in Euroleague

The Euroleague is unquestionably the highest level of basketball outside the NBA.

While NBA teams are always looking for the next European draft steal, there are many top-level Americans playing overseas who could potentially make an impact in the NBA in the near future — while there are others who have come to realize that their best chance for playing time, and their best option for making big money, will only come overseas.

Whether it’s from the vastly different style of play, or the exposure to a new culture, American players can grow to understand the game at a very high level with European experience.

Some players who can make the NBA can’t cut it at the highest levels of Europe, and some players who are excellent in the Euroleague, and who are more valuable than some NBA players to a European club, have no chance to make the NBA.

It is an odd dynamic, but that is the basketball world we live in.

Below is our list of the top 50 American players currently playing in Euroleague competition. (We will update it constantly throughout the next several months).

Bo McCalebb

1.     Bo McCalebb, 6’0″, PG, 1985, Fenerbahce Ulker (Turkey) College: University of New Orleans. McCalebb is an amazing scorer who has repeatedly shown the ability to put a team on his back down the stretch of big games. He may not have ideal size for the NBA, but he could thrive in a role as a momentum changing scorer off the bench. Here is his background story, including the part about his Macedonian passport.

2.    Sonny Weems, 6’6”, SF, 1986, Team: CSKA (Russia), College: Arkansas

Weems has stepped up to fill the void left by Andrei Kirilenko as an all-around contributor. An outstanding athlete, Weems has vastly improved his understanding of the game during his time in the Euroleague.

3.    Jordan Farmar, 6’2”, PG, 1986, Team: Anadolu Efes (Turkey), College: UCLA

The two-time NBA champion, a former Laker, has fit in quite well in Europe with his consistent effort at both ends of the floor. His ability to get into the paint, combined with his activeness defensively, have allowed him to be one of the most effective players thus far in the Euroleague, averaging 19 pts (76.9% 3PT), 6.5 rebounds and 5.8 assists.

4.       Jaycee Carroll, 6’2, SG, 1983, Team: Real Madrid (Spain), College: Utah State

Carroll’s lack of strength probably prohibits him from being an NBA player, but his shooting makes him a deadly weapon in Euroleague competition. Carroll is constantly in motion offensively, and his ability to shoot off screens has caused many headaches for opposing coaching staffs throughout Europe.

Keith Langford

5.       Keith Langford, 6’4”, SG, 1983, Team: Armani Jeans Milano (Italy), College: Kansas

If Langford were two inches taller, his knack for getting buckets would make it hard for NBA teams to keep him on the bench. While Langford could be an effective bench scorer on a handful of NBA teams, every team in Europe has a player with his talents very high up on its wish list.

6.       Kyle Hines, 6’6”, PF/C, 1986, Team: Olympiacos (Greece), College: NC-Greensboro

Hines has worked his way through the ranks of Europe to become the best defender in the Euroleague. While he may be undersized as a PF/C, his non-stop motor, understanding of angles and active hands make him an important contributor on any team. Hines could be very effective in a 20-25 minute role for an NBA contender if given the opportunity.

7.       Shelden Williams, 6’9”, PF/C, 1983, Team: Chalon (France), College: Duke

After struggling initially to find his spots in his first season of European competition, Williams has proven to be a very efficient player who can be a big time producer, averaging 15.5 points and 9.8 rebounds. He may never live down being selected over Rudy Gay, but his basketball IQ on both ends of the floor make him a very effective player.

8.       Mike Batiste, 6’8”, PF, 1977, Team: Fenerbahce Ulker (Turkey), College: Arizona State

After spending the better part of the last decade with Dimitris Diamantitis in Panathinaikos, Batiste has become the best pick-and-roll big man in Europe. His numbers may not jump out on the stat sheet, but his contributions always seem to find a way into the win column.

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  6. AP says

    Kyle Hines is too low, Pete Mickeal, and David Moss are way too low. Armstrong is way too high….come on now. Kitchen has talent, but for mow he is way too high on the list also.

    Omar Cook and Blake Schilb are too low. I think you have Caner-Medley too high also. He’s good for mid-level ACB clubs, but this is another story when talking about best American players in Europe.

    Phil as for Panko being ACB MVP, so what? ACB is several levels lower than the Euroleague in terms of the level of competition. It’s very easy to be MVP in ACB and not be all that good at Euroleague level.

    Also, Batiste was probably the best American player in Europe at one time, but he’s pretty washed up now. Drew Nicholas also used to be on the better American players in Europe, but he’s pretty much done now. And there are some players on the list that have not even proven they are Euroleague level players yet.

    So I think the list is taking the past into too much consideration for some players, and is projecting the prospects of some others a bit too much.

    • says

      “ACB is several levels lower than the Euroleague in terms of the level of competition. It’s very easy to be MVP in ACB and not be all that good at Euroleague level.”

      I’m sorry, but that’s simply not true. The ACB is only several paces behind, and probably closer to neck and neck. Here are the last ten ACB MVPs (All-Euroleague selections are in parentheses):

      2003: Walter Herrmann
      2004: Andres Nocioni (2)
      2005: Luis Scola (3)
      2006: Juan Carlos Navarro (6; Most all-time)
      2007: Luis Scola (3)
      2008: Marc Gasol
      2009: Felipe Reyes
      2010: Tiago Splitter (3)
      2011: Fernando San Emeterio (1)
      2012: Andy Panko

      There are 15 All-Euroleague selections among these nine players. The ones who haven’t gotten the nod:

      Marc Gasol: NBA starter, Spanish National Team fixture

      Felipe Reyes: World Champion in 2006, European champion in 2009 and 2011 with Spain, and the Euroleague’s sixth-leading rebounder since the turn of the century.

      And Walter Herrmann: Olympic Gold Medal in 2004 with Argentina, NBA All-Rookie Second Team with the Bobcats in ’07. Plus that hair.

      The ACB is legitimate.

      I agree, however, with your points on Nicholas and Batiste, though for very different reasons: Batiste is being forced to play the four now in Istanbul. As someone who’s familiar with Batiste’s history in Athens—it seems like you are—you’ll recall this is a departure from the norm for him. He’s not ‘washed up’ yet. Perhaps fading, but give him more than five games before you bury one of this decade’s finest.

      Nicholas, on the other hand, is out of work for the second time in two years (cut from Milano last year) for good reason.

      Veteran presences like his are overrated if the production is next-to-nothing. Still can play, but doesn’t belong on an EL contender.

      • AP says

        Nick, this very nice site is going to lose some of its credibility when you try to claim the ACB is a similar level to the Euroleague…………..

        Nick, it’s not even remotely in the same ballpark. This isn’t an ACB forum full of Spanish homers. The reality is that the ACB is much further from the Euroleague in level than any distance between NBA and Euroleague.

        ACB isn’t even as good as the United League is, and in truth, these days Eurocup is much stronger than the ACB is.

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