A ‘what if scenario’ and really interesting, fascinating debate topic that many people will have different opinions on and will debate it for a long time is the following: What if Europe’s greatest players in today’s basketball world made a 12-player team face off the 12 best American basketball players in our modern day. What would happen then? Who would win? Most of the European team would be NBA stars and EuroLeague stars that could challenge the United States in ONE game, while the American team would be filled with NBA players, champions and superstars.
However, this could be something really joyful and satisfying to watch as superstars from overseas would play against each other in one game.
The following article will analyze the two different teams (including five starters), from the respective teams and the way this game or series would play out.
Starting off with the European team, which would include All-Star NBA players like Giannis Antetokounmpo and Marc Gasol. EuroLeague MVP’s in Llull, NBA champions (Pau Gasol, Dirk Nowitzki), and global stars would be a solid team that would have the advantage of an excellent bench unit, who could be effective and add to the results. Analytically:
All-European Team - Starting Five
Point Guard - Sergio Llull (Real Madrid, Spain)
Lull (2017 EuroLeague MVP) is one of the best European players of this generation. At 30 years old, Llull is in his prime. With Real Madrid, he averaged 16.3 points and 5.9 assists per game in the EuroLeague and concluded the season by winning the MVP award. A true point guard, a legit offensive weapon who can shoot off the dribble, knock down tough three point and mid range shots as well as finish with contact around the rim. Llull is well respected all over Europe, as for the last two seasons he has been the best player in Europe.
Shooting Guard - Bogdan Bogdanovic (Sacramento Kings, Serbia)
Bogdanovic is one of the best young prospects in the NBA, who came off an excellent season with his team in Turkey, Fenerbahce winning both the EuroLeague title and the Turkish championship. At 24-years old the EuroLeague champion is talented in many different ways that can bring a lot to the table for this imaginary European squad. He can handle the ball at the perimeter, knock down deep three-pointers, can finish inside the paint with contact, isolate opponents and ‘break’ them down and attack the basket in a variety of ways. He is one of the best offensive European players who at the beginning of his prime is already starting to show signs of his unique talent.
Small Forward - Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks, Greece)
The 22-year old superstar, and NBA All-Star from Milwaukee and perhaps the best player in this imaginary squad, the ‘Greek Freak’ would play a huge role in this team’s success against the American team. At 6ft-11in he can handle the ball like a point guard, has the court vision of passing, can attack the basket and finish strong, and has unique athletic abilities that make him unstoppable. In the 2016-2017 season at age 22, Giannis made the All-NBA Second Team and already showed how great he could be.
Power Forward - Kristaps Porzingis (New York Knicks, Latvia)
The 22-year old Latvian and NBA ‘Unicorn’ Kristaps Porzingis would be the power forward for this European team. At 7ft-3in Porzingis can spread the floor, play the pick & roll game to perfection as he can knock down the mid-range jumpers, three points shots and spread the floor for his teammates. Together with Bogdanovic, Giannis and Llull, Kristaps would adapt his game, rebound the basketball and run the floor down, as this team would be so good in the transition game.
Center - Rudy Gobert (Utah Jazz, France)
The ‘Eiffel Tower’ as he is known, Gobert is the defensive ‘stone’ in this starting five for the European team. He almost made the All-Star team last year, as he averaged 14.0 points, 12.8 rebounds and 2.6 blocks (!) per game. This shows how valuable he is for the Utah team, as advanced stats show how different the Jazz played without him and how many more points they received. So Gobert would be a key player for the European team, would rebound the basketball, and have a huge impact defensively. He would alternate shots, defend the post, the block and the paint with many different ways, as players like Harden, Leonard, Curry and Westbrook would not be able to come in the paint with him in there.
• Nikola Jokic (Denver Nuggets, Serbia)
• Marc Gasol (Memphis Grizzlies, Spain)
• Pau Gasol (San Antonio Spurs, Spain)
• Goran Dragic (Miami Heat, Slovenia)
• Dirk Nowitzki (Dallas Mavericks, Germany)
• Nicolas Batum (Charlotte Hornets, France)
• Milos Teodosic (Los Angeles Clippers, Serbia)
The bench unit for this All-European team would play a huge role in the team success. The bench is full, many different players could have been used, but these seven players would have a crucial role in how the team would line-up and play against the American Team. Jokic is one of the upcoming stars in the NBA, who can pass the ball, has the vision to make plays from the Centre position, finish around the rim with either hand, defend very well, block shots and contend many different shots from the opponent and certainly rebound the basketball. In only his second NBA season, Jokic racked up the fourth most triple-doubles in the NBA with six. His exceptional vision and creativity is what makes him special and important for this team. Marc Gasol, a former defensive player of the year, together with his brother an NBA champion and former All-Star would be a great sub for Porzingis and Gobert, that would make this team a lot more experienced and ‘wise’.
Goran Dragic is a very good point guard in the NBA who leads the Miami Heat, who can hustle on defense, make plays for others, finish around the rim, knock down three pointers and have the vision and the energy needed to have a real impact in the minutes he would play. Tedosic is one the best ever European players, who has won many titles in Europe has unbelievable court vision, experience, and leadership skills. He would make this team a lot better and get the best out of everyone. Finally, Batum and Nowitzki are two players very different from each other who can also help this team off the bench. Batum is a scorer who can score in many ways, with his back to the basket, around the rim and with jumpers, while Nowitzki is an NBA champion, who is a former All-Star, Finals MVP and has had an unbelievable career. With his experience as a player, he can easily lead this team on and off the court, with him being a true example for the other young teammates of his. He can play 10-15 minutes a night and give the team what they truly need from him.
To sum up, this European Team would be spectacular to watch and could challenge the American Team, as their depth on the bench and their transition game is what would make them special. Youth is on their side, the athleticism is there, the stars are there, and the experience is there. These players make a strong case for the European Team being able to challenge the American Team.
Moving on to the All-American Team who will include superstars from the NBA with a lot of championships, individual trophies, and Olympic medals. Players globally known, which they play in the NBA would make the best modern day American Team one team that would be unstoppable on both sides of the court, with superstars everywhere. It would be on another level but would be interesting to watch them compete against a very reliable, and talented team the European Squad which we analyzed earlier.
All-American Team - Starting Five
Point Guard - Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors)
A two-time MVP award winner and two-time NBA champion, Stephen Curry is one of the best players in the world. His unreal shooting range finishes inside the paint with contact, circus shots’ abilities, mid range jumpers/floaters and abilities to run in transition knock down three-pointers, execute in the pick & roll and find his open teammates is what makes him unique as a player. In this team, he would be so much freer to do what he wants offensively, facilitate the offense, run in transition and make open and tough shots. Together with Westbrook, Durant, LeBron and Davis, Stephen Curry would only add to the trouble of the opponents, as an absolute threat at all times.
Shooting Guard - Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City Thunder)
The 2017 MVP Russell Westbrook would start the game being a shooting guard, and help Stephen Curry in off the ball situations. A player like Westbrook in his prime, with the passion and the aggression he has, would be a huge problem for opponents. His skill set together with his passion and love for the game of basketball is what makes Westbrook so good. The way he proves the doubters wrong by playing every game like it’s his last, win every 50/50 ball, hustle on defense, run in transition, rebound the basketball, find open teammates is what makes him so special as a player and as a competitor. Together with Steph, he would create a different backcourt that would be special to watch in many different ways.
Small Forward - LeBron James (Cleveland Cavaliers)
What can you say about LeBron James? The best player in the world, the best athlete in the world, and one of the best ever in the sport of basketball will be the leader of this team. The way he can lead a team, make everyone around him better by his unique vision and communicative skills, but also himself is what makes him one of the best to ever do it. A guy who can do it all, rebound the basketball, run in transition, defend the post and all five positions, as well as attack the rim with his unreal force, finish mid range jumpers, dunk the basketball, post up defenders and occasionally knock down three pointers are the characteristics that he would use in this team.
Power Forward - Kevin Durant (Golden State Warriors)
One of the best, if not the best scorer in basketball is not other than Kevin Durant. His talent for scoring the basketball in many different ways is what makes him the world’s best scorer. He has shown up in clutch situations, like last year in the NBA Finals against LeBron James and has shown his killer-instinct mentality. A top-two player in the world and NBA ambassador Kevin Durant would start at the power forward position for the All-American Team.
Center - Anthony Davis (New Orleans Pelicans)
Many different players could have been starting at the center position for this team. Players like DeMarcus Cousins and Karl Anthony Towns would be another alternative for this position, but Anthony Davis fits in perfectly with the rest of the starting line-up. Long, athletic power forward/center who can rebound the basketball, shoot mid-range jumpers and occasionally three pointers, post up defenders and certainly defend the post and the paint is what puts Davis above Towns and Cousins at this very moment of their career.
This starting lineup would be spectacular and very exciting to watch, and would quite possibly take down that starting five of the European Team. But what about the bench unit of the American Team? Would they have the depth the European Team has or not? Analytically:
• Kawhi Leonard (San Antonio Spurs)
• DeMarcus Cousins (New Orleans Pelicans)
• Karl Anthony Towns (Minnesota Timberwolves)
• James Harden (Houston Rockets)
• Carmelo Anthony (New York Knicks)
• Draymond Green (Golden State Warriors)
• Kyrie Irving (Boston Celtics)
Many different players could have made the 12-man roster for the American Team, like Paul George, Chris Paul, DeMar DeRozan, Dwayne Wade, Klay Thompson, Deandre Jordan and others, but these are our top 12.
It would be a stacked bench, that the players would ‘fight’ for the minutes they played. Leonard would be the sixth man of this team, as he is arguably considered the best two-way player in basketball, who can score on multiple occasions and defend the best player in the opponents team, as well as run in transition, and create his own shot. DeMarcus with Karl Anthony Towns would sub in for Durant and Davis and would slow the tempo down, grab rebounds, score the basketball in the post, with turn arounds or jumpers. Moreover, Harden would be that extra offensive special player that would come off the bench to score the basketball in many different ways and create for his teammates by also playing the point guard position.
Now, Carmelo Anthony who is always special with the United States squad would give 10-20 minutes off the bench, doing what he always does best, score the basketball, create for himself in tough opportunities, score clutch buckets, when the shot clock ticks off and post up smaller defenders. At age 33, together with LeBron, he would lead this team on and off the court, as he has the experience no other player has in this team, at the national level. Green, the defensive player of the year, and champion with the Warriors would be the energy guy off the bench, that his teammates would love. He would alternate shots, steal the basketball, start the fast breaks with a rebound or a steal, and hustle on defense, win the 50/50 balls, and play with a passion and a winning mentality that the coach would love. Finally, Kyrie Irving, perhaps the best ball-handler in the world would be a role player for this team, who would sub in Steph and Russ and give the team 10 minutes of his best self. Also, he could be needed at the end of the game, and tough shot clock situations.
Finally, to also sum up the American Team, it would be a team so exciting to watch, that people would not care who they are playing against. These players would have a huge impact on the game, and would just score the basketball in almost every run down the court. It would be something special to watch. However the European Team is not a joke, players with many different talents, awards, championships would play there, and we would watch an ‘awesome game’ with 24 global superstars.
If the All-American and All-European team played in ONE game only, the game would have ended in favor, of the American Team. LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry would be simply amazing to watch and would overcome the obstacle of the European Team.
However, it would be a great game to watch. Anything could happen however since it is only one game. We have seen the United States fall to other teams, countries that are smaller in population so that, could happen against the elite players in Europe. The European Team would want to dethrone the American Team and the passion and hard work to do it would be there, but the talent and the way the American Team would be able to communicate on and off the court would show how great this team is, and how great the level of basketball play in the NBA and especially the United States is. It is important to note that out of the 24 players we have selected for the two teams, only one does not belong in the NBA and that is Llull, who is the EuroLeague MVP award winner.
Furthermore, if the two teams played a seven game series the European Team would win one or two games., as their passion and will to do it together with their talent, experience and depth on the bench would play out. On the other hand however, the depth on the bench in the American Team is also an advantage, as well as the experience, the talent, the unique skills, and the superstar players from the NBA, the American Team have is simply unreal. The prediction in a seven game series is the following. The American Team would defeat the European Team in five or six games and would show the world why the American basketball is always the best in the world.
American Team in five or six games.
This event moreover. would be huge and spectacular to watch, The courts would be sold out, the players would have a blast, the coaching staff will be ready to go, the fans would want to witness such a crazy game with two unbelievable squads and this is something that should happen in the next decade.
Finally, to sum up, this article introduced a new idea with the best European players going up against the American players that would be exciting and interesting for the whole world to watch. What are your two teams? How would you line them up, and most importantly who would win in this imaginary game?