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Team Europe vs. Team USA: Who Would Win A 7-Game Series?

Team Europe vs. Team USA: Who Would Win A 7-Game Series?

The NBA has become a global game because Americans no longer dominate the league. Nowadays, we are seeing MVP winners who are European (Giannis Antetokounmpo, Nikola Jokic) the past three years, and they are even winning NBA titles as seen by last year with the Milwaukee Bucks. Foreign players no longer have a disadvantage in the league, because they are bringing elite skill to the table every night.

But would a collection of European players have enough talent and skill to take down American players in a best-of-7 series? By collecting and forming a starting five of capable European stars, we can analyze a best-of-7 series against the best starting five of American players. By taking the five standard positions, here are the matchups and the eventual winner of an all-time great showdown.

Luka Doncic vs. Stephen Curry

Luka Doncic vs. Stephen Curry

Both superstar guards are capable playmakers, although Luka has an edge in that regard. Doncic is a large 6’7” point guard with broad shoulders, meaning he has the ability to see over Steph Curry and find his teammates with ease. The Slovenian superstar is also an elite scorer, as evidenced by his 25.6 PPG average this season.

Meanwhile, Steph will bring capable playmaking ability although he will not control the ball for much of the series. That responsibility will fall to LeBron James and James Harden because Steph knows he is most effective coming off screens for his patented outside jumpers. Luka will struggle to keep up with Steph early on in the series as a result.

Bojan Bogdanovic vs. James Harden

Bojan Bogdanovic vs. James Harden

Bojan Bogdanovic is a capable defender and shooter, standing 6’7” and weighing 226 lbs. The beefy Croatian will use his physicality and outside shooting to consistently put pressure on Harden, preventing The Beard from going off on the floor. A career 39.2% shooter from the arc, Bogdanovic will be the key shooter on a European team built on paint presence.

James Harden is an elite ball-handler and playmaker, something we are well aware of by now. The Beard is a 3-time scoring champion and former assist champion, so he will absolutely share ball-handling duties with LeBron James throughout the series. Bogdanovic will not be able to stop James from averaging a double-double through 7 games.

Giannis Antetokounmpo vs. LeBron James

Giannis Antetokounmpo vs. LeBron James

At the forward position, Giannis Antetokounmpo has a tall task on his hands competing with The King. The Greek Freak is already a 2-time MVP and NBA champion, so he has developed his game enough to place his name as the best player in the series. An elite defensive star with the ability to handle the ball with Luka Doncic, Giannis will be responsible for pushing the pace on offense.

For LeBron, his task will be to control the tempo and make adjustments. With his experience and leadership, the 4-time NBA champion will have to set his superstar teammates in a position to succeed. James will be aware of Giannis’ defensive skills, so he will need to match that as close as possible on the defensive end to make up for Curry’s and Harden’s deficiencies.

Nikola Jokic vs. Kevin Durant

Nikola Jokic vs. Kevin Durant

At the other forward position, Nikola Jokic brings his size and versatility to form a twin-tower pairing with Rudy Gobert. The Serbian superstar and reigning MVP is an elite shooter, rebounder, and passer; so he will have his way with Kevin Durant on his half of the court. Quite frankly, Jokic will be a handful for Team USA.

But Durant will get his own back on his end, averaging 30.1 PPG in the series and consistently placing Jokic on the “island”. Jokic is a capable defender who can move his feet, but he will struggle to defend Durant in isolation situations. Both superstars will get their numbers against each other, creating an exciting matchup over 7 games.

Rudy Gobert vs. Anthony Davis

Rudy Gobert vs. Anthony Davis

The big Frenchman will likely be a 4-time Defensive Player of the Year by the end of the year, and he is truly the most dominant paint presence in the NBA today. With his length and size, Gobert is putting up 2.3 BPG this year. Against an elite offensive player in Anthony Davis, Gobert will need to be focused on defense because his team will need it.

Davis is no slouch on defense either, and he will need to be aware of Gobert’s rim runs while also helping Durant deal with Jokic. The Lakers’ big man has tremendous versatility, and that will be needed on both ends of the floor. While LeBron, Harden, Curry, and Durant will control the bulk of the offense; Davis needs to make sure he takes smart shots throughout the series.

Team USA Advantages

The advantage for Team USA is their elite shooting and all-around offensive ability. Stephen Curry and James Harden are unstoppable enough in the backcourt, but adding Durant and James to the frontcourt with Davis makes this starting five completely unplayable. They will be able to place consistent pressure on Team Europe until they eventually buckle.

Anthony Davis’ versatility also helps Team USA, because he has the size to counter Jokic and Gobert but also the skill to space the floor for LeBron and Harden’s drives. We already saw how Durant and Curry can run riot in the league when on the same team, and adding three more superstars will make them impossible to defend.

Team Europe Advantages

Team Europe will need to count on their defense to keep the games close as they grind out wins over the 7 game series. Bogdanovic, Giannis, and Gobert are all considered very good defensive players while the latter two are arguably the two best defenders in the NBA. Giannis will have a massive load to carry on the floor as the tallest and most athletic player and will be asked to defend almost every opponent in the series.

Gobert will also need to impose his will in the paint, acting as a key defensive stopper for his side as he neutralizes Davis as much as possible. Alongside Jokic, Team Europe also have an advantage in the paint, and they will try to keep the games slow as they punish the Americans down low as much as possible.

Who Wins A Best-Of-7?

This series will be closer than expected, because exceptional defense can make games last longer than necessary. That is why in Game 1, Team Europe steals a 99-95 victory. Team USA cannot find their rhythm from deep, and hardly get to the free-throw line. Giannis Antetokounmpo dominates the game, finishing with 32 points, 14 rebounds, and 10 assists. Adjustments are needed for Game 2, and LeBron James ensures that.

The King leads USA to victory, dropping 33 points and 13 assists. Giannis has a much more pedestrian game, finishing with 22 points on 8-22 shooting. Team Europe cannot keep up with The King controlling the pace of the game in a blowout 122-105 victory for the Americans. Game 3 is more of the same, except Kevin Durant goes off with a 40-point performance. Taking advantage of Nikola Jokic on defense, the lengthy forward goes an efficient 51% from the field including 3-5 from three.

But Team Europe respond well in Game 4 and escape with a 2-point victory thanks to a Luka Doncic game-winner. In the 4th quarter, Team USA hold a 10-point lead with James Harden leading the way with 29 points. But Team Europe come alive on defense, finishing with 4 blocks in the quarter and Doncic scoring 8 straight including the game-winning three over Stephen Curry at the buzzer.

Team Europe completely shut down Harden and Steph in Game 5, as both stars combine for 5-20 from the three-point line. LeBron shoots below 50%, and Davis registers only 12 points in the game thanks to the brilliance of Giannis and Gobert on defense. But still, they cannot come out with the victory over USA. The reason? Kevin Durant scores 15 points in the 4th quarter, going 3-4 from three and 3-3 from the free-throw line. The superstar scorer carries the Americans on his back, completing a 9-point comeback in the 4th to steal the game.

Team Europe need an immediate response after failing to stop Durant, and they focus their defensive attention on him in Game 6. Durant “only” finishes with 24 points, but the Europeans get production from across the court. Doncic has a triple-double, Giannis registers a game-high 31 points, and Nikola Jokic grabs a series-high 19 rebounds. Bogdanovic also goes 4-5 from the three-point line, completely stunning the Americans with a 14-point victory. Other than an efficient LeBron James, the Americans fail to avoid a Game 7.

In the pivotal Game 7, Stephen Curry comes to life. The superstar point guard scores 40 points, going 6-13 from the three-point line. Nailing 4 threes in the first half, the Americans lead the Europeans 66-45 after two quarters. In the second half, Durant chips in 20 points while LeBron continues controlling the pace of the game. The Europeans put forth a valiant effort, but cannot keep up with the leadership of James and the incredible scoring ability of Team USA. With Durant leading all scorers in the series, he captures Finals MVP.

Final Result: Team USA vs. Team Europe 4-3

Finals MVP: Kevin Durant


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