With 43 players currently under NBA contracts having suited up in Europe over the last three months, it has become apparent that the differences between NBA basketball and European basketball may be greater than many had thought beforehand. After almost the entire 2010 gold medal U.S. team at the World Championship went on to have career seasons after spending the summer playing in Europe, it appears that the European game has a number of things American players can learn that could help improve their NBA games.
Here are five things NBA players have learned about European basketball during the NBA lockout.
European basketball is a team game
To the casual fan, the NBA provides the most entertaining brand of basketball of any basketball league in the world, as the one-on-one style promoted by the NBA’s rules makes for a great number of exciting plays. With no hand checking, and a n0-charge circle in the paint, players like LeBron James and Dwayne Wade are able to provide several highlight reel dunks every game, and defenses are left with little ability to stop them. Since most NBA teams typically have two or three players who can dance their way to the basket, most teams run an offense that consists primarily of isolation plays and pick-and-rolls, giving two or three guys the majority of the touches on offense. This type of game makes top players get impressive stats, developing one or two “stars” on each team to help the league’s marketability.
In Europe, however, teams typically share the wealth in terms of overall production. Some of this may be attributed to the fact that the best players in the world play in the NBA, but, in general, this is due to the fact that European teams run very few isolation plays. Several players, such as Andrei Kirelenko, Danilo Gallinari, Nicolas Batum and Rudy Fernandez, fit right in with the European style as they get most of their offense through the flow of the game and don’t need the ball in their hands every play to be effective.