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The All-Time Greatest International Team: Starting Lineup, Bench, And Coach

The All-Time Greatest International Team: Starting Lineup, Bench, And Coach

Since the late 1980s, there has been an international explosion in the NBA as an influx of players have come from all over the world to join its ranks. As the years go on, more and more international players seem to not only break into the NBA but thrive once they are there. It has never been more prevalent than it is today, with some of the top players in the league being from lands that are far beyond the American border. These modern superstars mixed with some players sprinkled throughout NBA history make up quite the all-time international lineup.

As is the case when we build any lineup, there will be some glaring omissions. It is important to note that we have chosen the players today based on not only where they were born but where they played their international basketball as well. Therefore, because they have played for the United States during Olympic play, Tim Duncan, Kyrie Irving, and Hakeem Olajuwon will not be included in today’s lineup. Using these parameters also presents a bigger challenge to put together the perfect lineup considering the weight those names hold.

With the guidelines in place, let’s take a look at the all-time greatest international starting lineup and full bench, and coach.


Guard - Steve Nash

Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Championships: 0

Career Stats: 14.3 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 8.5 APG, 0.7 SPG, 0.1 BPG

Career Achievements: 2x MVP, 8x All-Star, 7x All-NBA Team Selection

Steve Nash will be the running point for our international squad. Who else would you want running the offense than the Canadian-born, 2x MVP? Steve Nash is an all-time elite playmaker who will be getting plenty of opportunities to rack up the assists once he hits the floor with this starting five. He also brings the ability to knock down outside and interior jump shots at a high efficiency if given the opportunities. As is well-known, Nash has the ability to lead a high-powered offense, and that is exactly how he will be used here.  

Nash had a slow beginning to his career between the Suns and Mavericks, but by the 2001-02 season, he had evolved into an All-Star. In the 2004-05 season, Nash led the league in assists for the Phoenix Suns, something he would do 5 times out of the next 7 seasons. He won back-to-back MVP awards in 2005 and 2006. Over those 2 years, he averaged 17.2 PPG and 11.0 APG on 50.8% shooting overall and 43.6% shooting from deep. Nash is exactly the type of point guard you want running things for this international team. 


Guard - Manu Ginobili

Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Championships: 4

Career Stats: 13.3 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 3.8 APG, 1.3 SPG, 0.3 BPG

Career Achievements: 1x Sixth Man Of The Year, 2x All-Star, 2x All-NBA Team Selection

Having a shooting guard like Manu Ginobili next to Steve Nash in the backcourt is about as perfect as you can get. Over his career, Ginobili was able to adapt to any role given to him by Head Coach Gregg Popovich, which will prove to be quite valuable in this lineup. He has the ability to score when he needs to, using his innovative Euro Step that has become normal in today’s game. Manu could knock down step back three-pointers as well when he was able to create distance between him and a defender. He was a well-rounded playmaker and pesky defender to boot.

His style was unusual but effective, as he displayed year after year in his NBA career. Ginobili peaked in 2005 through 2011 and accomplished so much more than many thought he would along the way. Over that period, he averaged 16.8 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 4.2 APG, and 1.5 SPG helping the Spurs win 2 titles in the process. He won the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year in 2008 and was named an All-Star in 2005 and 2011. In total, Ginobili contributed to 4 NBA championships with San Antonio and became an NBA Hall of Famer. With all the things Ginobili brings to the table, he is an easy choice to start in the backcourt. 


Forward - Giannis Antetokounmpo

10 NBA Stars That You Should Avoid Shooting 3-Pointers In The 2K23

Championships: 1

Career Stats: 21.8 PPG, 9.4 RPG, 4.6 APG, 1.2 SPG, 1.3 BPG

Career Achievements: 2x MVP, 1x Finals MVP, 1x Defensive Player Of The Year, 1x Most Improved Player, 6x All-Star, 1x All-Star Game MVP, 6x All-NBA Team Selection, 5x All-Defensive Team Selection

Over the past 7 seasons, Giannis Antetokounmpo has evolved from a skinny kid with no direction into the most dominant and best player in the NBA. He has become virtually unstoppable on both ends of the floor, able to change the direction of a game in a magnitude of ways. He displays a wide range of both finesse and power moves in the post, but he proves most dangerous from beyond that point. Giannis is unguardable on the open floor, combining speed, athleticism, and strength to over-match trailing defenders. He also had no problem forcing his way to the basket if he catches the ball on the outside, whether it results in points or foul shots.

Giannis is also a force to be reckoned with on defense. He can effectively cover any position 1-5 and is a master at making shots in the paint as tough as possible. The past 4 seasons have been a rapid rise to the top of the league as he has taken home 2 MVPs, 1 Defensive Player of the Year, and delivered Milwaukee their 1st title in 50 years. There is no doubt that all eyes will be on him in this lineup as the offense runs through him and the defense is anchored by him. 


Forward - Dirk Nowitzki

Dirk Nowitzki

Championships: 1

Career Stats: 20.7 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 2.4 APG, 0.8 SPG, 0.8 BPG

Career Achievements: 1x MVP, 1x Finals MVP, 14x All-Star, 12x All-NBA Team Selection

With the presence of Giannis, Dirk Nowitzki brings a remarkable ability to spread the floor and knock down shots to this lineup. Dirk can lay back near the elbow/perimeter while Giannis and Nikola Jokic work their magic in the paint. Nowitzki is a scoring and rebounding threat every time down the floor on offense and his ability to create is the reason why. He can work from the perimeter by moving around without the ball to find an open shot or take 2 dribbles and pull up from wherever he wants. He is also dangerous when receiving the ball in the post. Using his patented one-legged fadeaway, Dirk can accumulate buckets in no time with the team he has around him.

Dirk showed he can dominate for nearly 20 years in the NBA, becoming the game’s greatest shooting big man. He won an MVP award in 2007, but nothing compares to the run he went on for the Dallas Mavericks in 2011. In a single playoff run, Dirk took down the KD-led Thunder, Kobe and the defending champion Lakers, and the newly formed Big 3 in Miami with LeBron James. He delivered Dallas their franchise’s only championship, showing that he is never scared of the moment and can be the best player on the floor on the biggest stage when his team needs him most. His ability and determination are something that cannot be replaced on this team.


Center - Nikola Jokic

Nikola Jokic

Championships: 0

Career Stats: 19.7 PPG, 10.4 RPG, 6.2 APG, 1.2 SPG, 0.7 BPG

Career Achievements: 2x MVP, 4x All-Star, 4x All-NBA Team Selection

The NBA’s reigning 2-time MVP Nikola Jokic rounds out our international starting lineup as our starting center. Jokic brings a few things to the table that will elevate the play of this lineup even further. First, he brings elite and efficient scoring, as he is able to knock down open jumpers that the opposition gives him or he is able to score in abundance in the post. He also brings yet another elite playmaker to the lineup. Jokic can work from the high post to find open slashers and cutters to the basket. He can also work from deep in the post, mastering the art of the cross-court pass.

Jokic is a 7-year NBA veteran, but it has been the last 4 seasons that have put the world on notice. Since the 2018-19 season, Jokic has averaged 23.3 PPG, 11.3 RPG, and 7.6 APG. He did this while taking the Nuggets to the Western Conference Finals in 2020 and playoff berths in 2021 and 2022 that they wouldn’t have made without Jokic’s services. In his 2 MVP seasons in 2021 and 2022, Jokic has averaged 26.7 PPG, 12.3 RPG, and 8.1 APG on 57.5% shooting. He continues to improve and pick apart teams with his elite all-around play. 


Bench


Guard - Tony Parker

Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Championships: 4

Career Stats: 15.5 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 5.6 APG, 0.9 SPG, 0.1 BPG

Career Achievements: 1x Finals MVP, 6x All-Star, 4x All-NBA Team Selection

Tony Parker kicks things off as the first selection for our international lineup off of the bench. Parker brings a change of pace from Steve Nash as he is going to push the pace a bit more and do a little bit more scoring as well. He has an elite set of change of direction skills and an innate ability to get into the paint and finish at the basket, despite his small stature. He helped orchestrate 4 titles for the Spurs during his career and became a Top 3 PG in the NBA during his prime.

In Parker’s prime, he was good at giving you at least 20.0 PPG and 7.0 APG. Between 2006 and 2014, Parker was named an All-Star 6 times and averaged 18.6 PPG and 6.3 APG. He took home the 2007 Finals MVP award in a 4-game sweep of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Parker averaged 24.5 PPG, 5.0 RPG, and 3.3 APG in that series en route to winning Finals MVP. His ability to come up clutch and push the pace makes him an easy choice off of the bench for our lineup. 


Guard - Luka Doncic

Luka Doncic

Championships: 0

Career Stats: 26.4 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 8.0 APG, 1.1 SPG, 0.4 BPG

Career Achievements: 1x Rookie Of The Year, 3x All-Star, 3x All-NBA Team Selection

Since joining the NBA 4 seasons ago, Luka Doncic continues to wow audiences and shatter NBA records. With his mix of scoring, playmaking, and propensity to deliver in the clutch, Doncic could be entering the Top 5 of all-time talks when his career is all said and done. As of right now, Doncic holds the 2nd highest playoff PPG in history with 32.5 PPG behind only Michael Jordan. Doncic proves to be too much for smaller guards to defend and too slippery for larger defenders. He makes everyone on the floor better around him, especially the bigs in which he runs the pick and roll. 

As it stands, Doncic is the youngest player in NBA history to be selected to the All-NBA First Team 3 times. He has earned that honor in each of the last 3 seasons while taking the Mavs to heights they haven’t seen since the days of prime Dirk Nowitzki. We know that he can be the leader of a team and raise their play simply by being who he has been for the past 4 years. Those qualities, plus his fiery passion for the game, make him yet another easy choice for our bench. 


Forward - Peja Stojakovic

Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Championships: 1

Career Stats: 17.0 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 1.8 APG, 0.9 SPG, 0.1 BPG

Career Achievements: 3x All-Star, 1x All-NBA Team Selection

We finally add our first specialist off of the bench and that is Peja Stojakovic for his three-point shooting. Stojakovic is best known for his sharpshooting with the Kings in the early 2000s. The fact is that he shot the ball often and well, no matter where he stopped in his NBA career. He finished with a career 40.1% three-point percentage and was a consistent offensive threat for most of his 13 NBA seasons.

Stojakovic hit his peak from 2001 through 2005. For those 5 seasons, he averaged 21.1 PPG and 5.5 RPG on 47.2% shooting overall and 40.8% from three. He earned 3 straight All-Star appearances from 2002 to 2004 and helped the Kings become serious contenders in the Western Conference. His shooting off of the bench can prove to be extremely valuable down the stretch and late in games for this lineup. 


Forward - Pau Gasol

Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Championships: 2

Career Stats: 17.0 PPG, 9.2 RPG, 3.2 APG, 0.5 SPG, 1.6 BPG

Career Achievements: 1x Rookie Of The Year, 6x All-Star, 4x All-NBA Team Selection

Pau Gasol is about as skilled as it gets for a big man, so having him off the bench to fill in for Jokic or Giannis is big in this lineup. Like Jokic, Gasol has the ability to play make at a high level, especially from the high post. He can also knock down the jumpers should defenders try to cheat on the cutters or slashers. With his size and soft touch around the basket, Gasol was able to finish over just about any interior defender in the NBA. His presence helped the Lakers to 2 championship runs in 2009 and 2010.

From 2006 with Memphis to 2011 with the Lakers, Pau Gasol was amongst the best big men in basketball. Over that span, he averaged 19.3 PPG, 9.7 RPG, and 1.6 BPG. He was named to 4 of his 6 career All-Star appearances and won 2 championships alongside Kobe Bryant with the Lakers. On both of those NBA Finals runs, Gasol proved to be the most important piece for the team next to Bryant as he averaged 18.9 PPG and 11.0 RPG in those 46 playoff games. He brings leadership and discipline to a team that needs it off the bench.


Center - Joel Embiid

Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Championships: 0

Career Stats: 26.0 PPG, 11.4 RPG, 3.3 APG, 0.9 SPG, 1.7 BPG

Career Achievements: 5x All-Star, 4x All-NBA Team Selection, 3x All-Defensive Team Selection

After missing the first 2 seasons of his career with foot issues and battling injuries, Joel Embiid has now emerged as one of the very best players in the game. He has been runner-up in MVP voting to winner Nikola Jokic the past 2 seasons and adds a powerful offensive weapon to an already stacked bench. Embiid is a dominant scorer in the post and from anywhere within 12 feet, possessing the ability to knock down short jumpers when given them. He can create off of the dribble well for someone his size and uses his body and strength well to get easy buckets in the post.

It has really been since the 2018-19 season that Embiid has come along and staked his claim as the best center in the game. Over that time, he has averaged 27.6 PPG, 12.0 RPG, and 1.5 BPG. In 2021 and 2022, he finished 2nd in both years in MVP voting. He had the best season of his career in 2022 when he became the first center to win the scoring title since Shaq 20 years ago with 30.6 PPG. While he has yet to lead the Sixers to the promised land, there is no doubt Joel Embiid is one of the 2 best centers in the game and brings huge value to our lineup. 


Center - Marc Gasol

Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Championships: 1

Career Stats: 14.0 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 3.4 APG, 0.9 SPG, 1.4 BPG

Career Achievements: 1x Defensive Player Of The Year, 3x All-Star, 2x All-NBA Team Selection, 1x All-Defensive Team Selection

Marc Gasol joins his brother Pau on our bench, adding more size and interior defense to our already giant lineup. The younger Gasol brings another element of interior defense and playmaking while being able to space the floor to a team full of bigs who do the same. We also know that he will never give up on a play, displaying the ultimate signs of heart and energy in every single play. Marc Gasol will do most of his dirty work in the post where he made most of his money his entire career.

While Gasol is a 19.5 PPG scorer at his peak, where he really earned his spot here is for his defensive efforts. He has been named to an All-Defensive Team in his career, but in that same year, he was also named the best defender in basketball. As controversial as the win was, Gasol earned that award by slowing down offenses at a tremendous rate in the paint. Gasol is a great filler for the rest of our bigs who may need a break as a game or series wears on. 


Center - Dikembe Mutombo

Dikembe Mutombo

Championships - 0

Career Stats: 9.8 PPG, 10.3 RPG, 1.0 APG, 0.4 SPG, 2.8 BPG

Career Achievements: 4x Defensive Player Of The Year, 8x All-Star, 3x All-NBA Team Selection, 6x All-Defensive Team Selection

Do you want to talk about defense? Dikembe Mutombo is the real defensive anchor off of the bench for our international squad. He was never one to stuff the stat sheet on offense, but you could guarantee that he was going to grab rebounds and block or alter many shots. Mutombo ranks 2nd all-time in total blocks with 3,289 blocked shots and probably thousands more that were altered off kilter during his 18-year career. Mutombo is one of the most decorated defenders in NBA history.

The blocked shots in his career started early on in Mutombo’s career. He led the league in BPG for 3 straight seasons from 1994 through 1996 and in RPG in 2000 and 2001. Mutombo took home Defensive Player of the year in 1995, 1997, and 1998. He would win it once more in 2001 with the Sixers when he blocked 2.7 shots per game and grabbed 13.5 RPG. Adding him to a roster that is already littered with elite interior defenders, Mutombo will prove to be the cherry on top.


Coach - Zeljko Obradovic

Zeljko Obradovic

Zeljko Obradovic is granted the helm of our international squad as one of the most decorated international coaches in history. He has won 9 EuroLeague titles spanning all the way back from 1992 when he won with the Partizan Belgrade to his latest in 2017 with the Fenerbahce Istanbul. He has also brought home countless Greek and Turkey League championships as well as countless accolades as the Head Coach of Serbia and Montenegro’s international team. If anyone can steer this roster to success from the international pool of coaches, it is Zeljko Obradovic.


How Would This Team Perform On The Court?

Using nothing but a pool of international players, we have created what we think could be one of the most unstoppable lineups ever. Offensively, this team is a juggernaut that can attack and dominate you from all angles. Nash and Ginobili make up a well-rounded playmaking backcourt that will be the perfect duo to set up the rest of the team for maximum success. Doncic and Tony Parker also do this from the bench. Giannis and Jokic will dominate the paint while looking to facilitate when it gets clogged. Dirk will be our primary shooter to start while Stojakovic and Doncic help out with that from the bench. All in all, the interior and perimeter offense for our international team will prove to be far too much for opponents.

If you think the offensive firepower is too much, the interior defense is the dagger through the heart. On the perimeter, they may struggle a bit defensively, but you can afford to let some things go when you are as stacked as this team on the inside. Giannis provides most of the defensive help to start but off of the bench you have Mutombo, Pau, and Marc Gasol along with Joel Embiid to round it out. This international team will wear you down both with the ball and on defense. You will be hard-pressed to find a team that can match up with them in a single game or 7-game series. 

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