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).
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.
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.