4. Juan Carlos Navarro, Barcelona
Juan Carlos Navarro is one of the most decorated basketball players in the world today. He’s a two-time Olympic silver medalist, a gold medalist at the 2006 FIBA World Cup and 2009 and 2011 FIBA Eurobasket championships, and a two-time Catalan Tournament Final MVP.
That is only scratching the surface of what Navarro has accomplished in his career.
Navarro is a six-time All-Euroleague Team selection, the 2007 Euroleague scoring champion, the 2008 Spanish League MVP and the 2009 Euroleague MVP. He was the 2010 European Player of the Year and the 2011 EuroBasket MVP.
Navarro is also a three-time All-Europe Player of the Year.
In 2007, Navarro took his talents to the NBA, joining the Memphis Grizzlies and playing in all 82 games that season. Navarro started 30 games, averaging 10.9 points and topping 20 in 12 separate outings.
After just one season with the team, Navarro returned to Barcelona.
“La Bomba” picking up where he left off in 2013, helping lead Barcelona through the Euroleague Playoffs. Not only is he averaging 13.0 points per game on 41.3 percent shooting from the arc, but Navarro most recently came up with 17 points, four rebounds and four assists in a 70-60 win over Panathinaikos.
The glory continues for the 32-year-old wizard.
5. Sergio Rodriguez, Real Madrid
From 2006 to 2010, Sergio Rodriguez was a dynamic combo guard that thrived both as a spot-up shooter and facilitator. Rodriguez spent time with the Portland Trail Blazers, Sacramento Kings and was involved in the infamous Tracy McGrady trade to the New York Knicks.
In that time, Rodriguez played 285 games, made 22 starts and even averaged 7.4 points and 3.4 assists in 19.7 minutes for the Knicks.
Prior to his time in the NBA, Rodriguez made his name as one of the fastest rising stars in Spain. As a member of Asefa Estudiantes, he won the 2004 FIBA Europe Under-18 Championship MVP award.
One year later, he won the 2005 ACB Rising Star award.
On a broader international stage, Rodriguez won a silver medal with the Spanish national team at the 2012 London Olympics. He also won a gold medal at the 2006 FIBA World Cup, as well as striking gold at the 2004 FIBA Europe Under-18 championship and silver at the 2007 FIBA EuroBasket championship.
Today, Rodriguez is a key contributor for Liga ACB powerhouse Real Madrid.
Most recently, Rodriguez scored 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting and 2-of-2 from the arc in a 69-57 series-clinching win over Maccabi Tel Aviv. In the prior game, Rodriguez picked up 10 points, 10 assists and five rebounds in a 79-53 win over Maccabi Tel Aviv.
That’s a testament to how well-rounded a player Rodriguez has become.
Not only can he make a defense pay from deep, but Rodriguez is a crafty ballhandler and a dazzling facilitator. He can run the pick-and-roll at a high level and is capable of playing multiple perimeter positions due to his active hands and ability to move off of the ball.
Up next for Rodriguez is a showdown with either Barcelona or Panathinaikos. Expect the NBA alum to shine under the bright lights of the Euroleague Playoffs.
6. Kostas Papanikolaou, Olympiacos
During the 2012 NBA draft, countless New York Knicks fans waited impatiently for their team’s turn to pick. After 47 picks, the 48th overall draft choice finally arrived, and the Knicks stunned their faithful fans.
They chose 22-year-old Greek small forward Kostas Papanikolaou.
How about that for shock and awe?
The Knicks ended up trading Papanikolaou’s draft rights to the Portland Trail Blazers in the deal that landed New York Raymond Felton and Kurt Thomas. Outside of the inevitable questions in reference to who Papanikolaou is, Blazers fans are now wondering what he brings to the table and Knicks fans question what they lost.
The best way to answer that question is to acknowledge where he is now and what he is doing.
The 2009 FIBA Europe Under-20 Championship MVP and two-time Greek Best Young Player of the Year award winner is helping lead Olympiacos to yet another glorious season.
Papanikolaou was a key component of the 2012 Olympiacos team that won the Euroleague championship.
In 2013, Papanikolaou continued his progression amongst Europe’s elite as he became a Greek League All-Star. One of Papanikolaou’s most recent performance saw the 22-year-old go off for 22 points, six rebounds, three assists and a steal on 8-of-10 shooting from the floor.
The Knicks need young legs and Papanikolaou could be the next great international star to take the NBA by storm.
WHERE ARE THEY NOW? EDITION 1: From Jonny Flynn to Gilbert Arenas
WHERE ARE THEY NOW? EDITION 2: From Juan Dixon to Gerry McNamara
WHERE ARE THEY NOW? EDITION 3: From Sean May to Marcus Fizer
WHERE ARE THEY NOW? EDITION 4: From Jonathan Bender to Jordan Farmar
WHERE ARE THEY NOW? EDITION 5: From Acie Law to Shelden Williams
WHERE ARE THEY NOW? EDITION 6: From Taurean Green to Andres Nocioni
WHERE ARE THEY NOW? EDITION 7: From Eddy Curry to Marcus Haislip
WHERE ARE THEY NOW? EDITION 8: Revisiting the NCAA Tournament
WHERE ARE THEY NOW? EDITION 9: Revisiting McDonald’s All-Americans
WHERE ARE THEY NOW? EDITION 10: Revisiting More McDonald’s All-Americans