Foreigner players have made a big impact on the league in recent years, taking over places that previously belonged exclusively to American stars who ruled the association. Right now, players like Nikola Jokic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid, Luka Doncic, and more are having terrific careers, demonstrating that you can find great talent outside of the US.
We had Drazen Petrovic, Pau Gasol, Dirk Nowitzki, Tony Parker and more before, but right now, European players have established as a great force in the league, taking things to the next level, competing for MVP awards, championships and more.
Recently, Nikola Jokic was crowned the back-to-back NBA MVP, emulating what Giannis Antetokounmpo did in 2019 and 2020. European stars are making a lot of noise right now, which has led people to believe they are more skilled than American players.
Recently, Ekam Nagra discussed this topic, saying that players like Luka Doncic and Nikola Jokic are so good and dominant because of the emphasis they had in Europe:
“The reason guys like Luka Doncic and Nikola Jokic have taken the league by storm is because of how they came up in the European development system. The emphasis on skill and IQ. They weren’t conditioned to chase clout.”
Not everybody buys this take, including Brooklyn Nets superstar Kevin Durant, who disagreed with that statement, saying that having players as Luka and Jokic dominate doesn't mean that every European would do the same.
“How many overseas guys have come over here and had to go back because they couldn’t survive? Using Luka Doncic and Nikola Jokic who are anomalies seem like an agenda push.”
KD has a solid point there. We've seen players who thrived in Europe and couldn't replicate that success in the US. Even Durant's favorite passer, Milos Teodosic, couldn't spend more than one season in the league.
Luka has stated that scoring in the NBA is easier than in Europe, which could explain how he adapted to the league so easily. Then again, we're talking about a special talent in Doncic, so it's not like everybody will do the same now. This is a good debate to have, but the answer is pretty clear. The States still have the best talent in the world, although we can find incredible players anywhere.