Basketball is not only sport or entertainment. It is passion and lifestyle. There are three letters that every basketball player around the globe has dreamed about. NBA is not just a dream for American player, it is also every international players dream. Not a lot have made it here. But I am going to rank those who have managed to do it.
10. Nicolas Batum (France) – 14.8 PPG, 5.9 APG, 7.7 RPG
Nicolas Batum is the 9-year old veteran and he is always amongst top small forwards in the NBA. Last two years he is playing with the Hornets, and after Kemba Walker, he is their best player.
If we look at his stats, he is the all-around player and he is a solid 3-points shooter, but he never averaged more than 15 points per game. Maybe we expected a little more from Batum, but he is a good fit for every team in the league and he can always help in the clutch situation.
9. Jonas Valanciunas (Lithuania) – 12.1 PPG, 9.6 RPG, 0.7 BPG
Valanciunas is the underrated defensive player and so far he has a solid 5-year career with Toronto Raptors.
He is averaging 12.1 points and 9.6 rebounds, but only 0.7 blocks per game. That is his biggest problem because he has to block more shots with 7’0″ height.
Amongst the international players, he is at No. 10, but he should move forward in the next few years. Don’t forget he is only 24-years old and he already play five seasons in the league.
8. Danilo Gallinari (Italy) – 16.9 PPG, 2.1 APG, 5.0 RPG
One of the two Italian players left in the league. But what an Italian player. Similar playing style as a LeBron’s but there is one slight difference. That is his athletic skills. He actually can do everything on the court and his advantage is his 6’10 height.
Maybe we expected a little bit more from Galo, but he is injured-prone player.
He never played 82 games in a season and he never averaged more than 20 points per game. Somehow, he is a disappointment and maybe is too late for him to improve his career in the NBA.
7. Rudy Gobert (France) – 12.3 PPG, 11.9 RPG, 2.6 BPG
He is really aggressive and outstanding in paint. Not to mention his defensive skills. One of the best shoot blockers and every player’s kryptonate. He is a threat for everybody who wants easy get to the paint and lay the ball in.
With 12.3 points, 11.9 rebounds and 2.9 blocks, he is amongst top big man in this league, and probably the best defensive center right now.
Utah Jazz are playing great this year and we’ll see them in the NBA playoffs.
I can tell you one thing – it’s not going to be so easy with Rudy waiting for you.
6. Al Horford (Dominican Republic) – 15.0 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 2.1 BPG
In summer he signed a contract with Boston Celtics but he hasn’t lived up to his potential there. But without that, he is still a great defender and great in the paint. He is old-school center with good skills and he will help the Celtics with his experience and maturity.
That’s what Boston needed in first place. We are still waiting for something more from this guy and maybe he will show that in the playoffs.
5. Goran Dragic (Slovenia) – 18.8 PPG, 6.7 APG, 3.9 RPG
Mediocre PG with great passing skill. He has to thank Hassan Whiteside for being there because it is easy to find a guy who is so tall and so athletic. But still, we can give all credit to Goran. One of the reasons why Miami is not in the last place in Eastern Conference is him leading the Miami ball movement.
Lately, he has been in a lot of trade rumors. Let’s watch this Slovenians next steps in NBA.
4. Andrew Wiggins (Canada) – 21.8 PPG, 2.3 APG, 4.2 RPG
Canadian powerhouse. He is a new Canada’s big superstar after Steve Nash. Has it all too: perimeter game, mid-range game and also can post up. Has a similar style of Kobe Bryant but he still has a lot to work on, especially defense.
Maybe he doesn’t play at the level we expected, but he is only 21, so he will improve his game in the future.
3. Kristaps Porzingis (Latvia) – 20.1 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 1.9 BPG
New-York savior. Unicorn that’s how KD called him. Nevertheless, it was not the best way how he got introduced to NBA. He got heavily booed at Barclays Center, but it turned out only as motivation for him to prove them wrong. And he did.
Porzingis is next All-Star and he is most important player of New York Knicks.
2. Marc Gasol (Spain) – 20.1 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 1.6 BPG
He is one of the NBA loyal guys. He has played all his career in Memphis. And not just played. Every night he is putting up a show on a court. One of the best footwork in NBA and one of the best post moves from all the bigs in NBA.
He is one of the best passers amongst centers and he is top 10 defenders in the league.
1. Giannis Antetokounmpo (Greece) – 23.4 PPG, 5.9 APG, 9.0 RPG
Greek-freak. Best young talent in NBA. You can call him however you want but the fact that he can play in every position on the court, you can’t deny it. And that’s what puts him in first place in my top. He has it all: mid-range game, he can post up, he can shoot threes, he can catch and shoot. In other words, he is carrying all Bucks team on his back.
He is still young and we will see a lot of improvements in the future because he works with one of the most intelligent person in the NBA, Jason Kidd.