The NBA is where amazing happens. It’s a world-wide massive success that has made its way to every corner of the world. Everywhere you go, you’ll find millions of NBA fans wearing the jerseys of their favorite players.
Notably, that has made players from all over the world grow up dreaming about one day making it to basketball’s ultimate stage: the National Basketball Association, and we see more foreign players take the U.S for assault on a yearly basis.
But what if we put together the best players from every continent? How would they fare in the league? Let’s break it down by creating the all-time greatest team for each continent.
Note: we’re taking players according to their birthplace, i.e Steve Nash – South Africa, not for the country they played for.
Magic Johnson, Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Shaquille O’Neal
Well, this one’s pretty much a Los Angeles Lakers All-Time starting five but adding Michael Jordan. There’s no wonder why they’re the second-winningest team in NBA history, as they’ve had most of the greatest players ever dressed in purple and gold.
As a matter of fact, the league’s 4 all-time leading scorers played for the Lakers, so there’s that. And there’s no way any other team in basketball history could match up vs. these five on their prime.
All five players are more than capable of playing lockdown defense. Magic and LeBron can all guard one through five, Shaq is the most dominant big man ever, and you already know how Kobe and Michael were hound dogs in the backcourt.
Even so, their biggest edge will always be their offense. They feature the greatest playmaker – and point guard – in the history of the game with arguably four of the best isolation players to ever live. They can all create their offense and dominate below the rim.
Three-point shooting could be this team’s lone Achilles heel and even so, we saw James, Bryant, and even Jordan get hot from beyond the arc when it mattered the most over and over through their careers. This is the ultimate starting five.
Leandro Barbosa, Manu Ginobili, Andres Nocioni, Luis Scola, Nene Hilario
South America has seen some of the best role players in basketball history pave their way to the NBA for years now and it seems like they’re going to keep ’em coming as they continue to thrive in Europe and the NBA’s development programs.
South American ballers are savvy, physical, and will put their bodies on the line on every single possession, as we saw from Andres ‘Chapu’ Nocioni during his NBA tenure. Leandro Barbosa, one of the fastest hoopers ever, is also a prime example of that.
Nene Hilario and Luis Scola have both a similar profile. They’re both undersized big men that will out-hustle everybody else in the offensive glass and that do most of their damage from the low post. They lack the range of modern power-forwards but are also good facilitators and screen-setters.
But, obviously, this team’s captain has to be Manu Ginobili. Ginobili is one of the most influential players ever, as his signature Euro-Step took the league for assault and is still one of the go-to-moves nowadays. Also, lefty hoopers mimicked their game to Manu’s.
Ginobili’s also one of the smartest players you’ll ever find on a basketball court. He’ll do all the little things your team needs to win. He can run the point, play lockdown defense, knock down shots from deep. You name it, he’ll deliver.
Tony Parker, Dominique Wilkins, Dirk Nowitzki, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Pau Gasol
If there’s a team that could give North America a hard time, that’s definitely Europe. They’re as balanced as they come and feature savvy players that can hold their own on defense, but their offense is what makes them truly special.
Europe can dominate the glass with Dirk Nowitzki, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Pau Gasol below the rim. Also, Dominique Wilkins helps them round-up a squad that just won’t be bullied in the paint and that’s physical enough to thrive vs. stronger opposition.
Tony Parker is one of the greatest playmakers of all time. He can find and create spaces were most players could never, and he’ll always get his teammates an open shot. Giannis would thrive in the pick-and-roll with Pau running the point.
Europe could also put on a show when it comes to the highlight reels. I mean, with Giannis and Wilkins dunking all over their rivals, fans would be off their feet night in and night out watching these guys play.
They could use more help in terms of three-point shooting, though, as other than Nowitzki, they don’t have a reliable threat from beyond the arc. Defenses could collapse the paint and force them to get their points the hard way, which could be troublesome for them.
Steve Nash, Luol Deng, Pascal Siakam, Hakeem Olajuwon, Dikembe Mutombo
Africa continues to produce high-caliber NBA talent. Unlike back in the day, they no longer export just big men, as you could see from players like Josh Okogie, Al-Farouq Aminu, and even Pascal Siakam, who can also play as a small forward.
You’re never going to outplay Africans in the paint. You just won’t. And with the two greatest rim protectors ever in Hakeem Olajuwon and Dikembe Mutombo, you know there’s going to be a block party every time these twin towers hit the floor.
They also have one of the most influential point guards ever in Steve Nash. He’s the prime example of efficiency and a guy that’ll make everybody around him significantly better. Add a shooter like Luol Deng next to him, and you’re in for a treat.
Pascal Siakam is one of the league’s rising stars. He’s gone from a raw talent to a skilled guy that can put the ball on the floor, create for others, thrive in isolation, and make the most of his length to play pretty solid defense as well. He’s their X-factor, for sure.
This team doesn’t have many flaws as it is. Nash, Deng, and Siakam can knock down shots from deep, and they’re strong and physical defenders that’ll never get bullied around. Maybe they just need that difference-making superstar.
Yuta Tabuse, Sun Yue, Omri Casspi, Rui Hachimurra, Yao Ming
Asian players are still working their way to the league. Usually, it is the other way around and Americans take their talents to their leagues to get paid big bucks and get a chance to impress U.S scouts by putting up all kinds of numbers.
However, this team could have a pretty decent shot at making the podium on Asian competitions, as they have one of the biggest specimens ever below the rim on Yao Ming. He may not be as strong as he could be, but he was more skilled than people credit him for.
They also have a sharpshooter like Omri Casspi who had quite a successful NBA career thanks to his reliable and efficient stroke from beyond the arc. However, other than that, they’d struggle to find many things from beyond the arc.
Rui Hachimura looks like a promising player with the physical tools to dominate but he’s still pretty raw. He can turn into a poor man’s Giannis Antetokounmpo kind of player and that kind of versatility would certainly help this team’s chances.
And last but not least, they have a bit of a sluggish backcourt with Yuta Tabuse and Sun Yue. They’d definitely struggle to guard NBA guards, though.
Kyrie Irving, Matthew Dellavedova, Ben Simmons, Joe Ingles, Andrew Bogut
Oceania is working its way into the NBA by producing hardnosed and incredibly talented ballers. They will literally die in the hardwood if needed and won’t be bullied around by American hoopers. They’re competitors, and they’ll let you know about it.
This team features a bit of a three-headed monster in terms of playmaking. We already know Ben Simmons is the league’s ultimate point-forward with Magic Johnson-ish passing ability, but there’s also Kyrie Irving and even Matthew Dellavedova.
Irving is the team’s go-to-guy in isolation. He has some of the best handles in NBA history and can score at will against everybody on earth. But if you need a bucket in clutch time or a heavily-contested three-pointer, you can always trust Joe Ingles.
Andrew Bogut will lock down the pain with his physical defense and open up a lot of space with his hard screens. Dellavedova will hound guards through all the court, and Simmons can literally guard one through five thanks to his length.
The only flaw this team could have is the lack of a second guy that can create his own shot. Ingles and Dellavedova are more of a catch-and-shoot kind of guys and we already know Simmons’s limitations in that regard. Other than that, they’re perfect.