The NBA, a league once cultivated on the freakish abilities of All-American talent, is transitioning into a brand new era.
Over the past five years, basketball players from across the globe have found unprecedented success in the NBA. But none more so than the Europeans.
And that success has been oh so tangible, too; MVPs, All-NBA selections, Most Improved awards and Defensive Player of the Year awards alike. It’s not slowing down any time soon, evident to anyone who caught the NBA Finals.
Europe’s NBA takeover
There are currently three European stars perennially in the hunt for the MVP award; Nikola Jokic, Luka Doncic and Giannis Antetokounmpo, of course.
When the trio all landed inside the top five of MVP voting in the 2021-22 season, it was the first time three international players all finished inside the top five.
The last four MVP awards have gone to European players, with Antetokounmpo winning it in 2019 and ’20 before Jokic has secured the past two.
Their statistics are even stacking up against the history of the game.
Former back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic is widely considered to be the greatest passing centre of all time; his almost superhuman ability to see the play behind him has lent a hand in him securing the highest accolade in the NBA multiple times.
To showcase the numbers, in each of the past four seasons Jokic has totaled over 500 assists and if he continues averaging just under ten a game in 2023 he will break the all-time record for centres (751).
Giannis Antetokounmpo is the first player to total 200+ PTS, 80+ REB, and 30+ AST over a 5-game span since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1972. pic.twitter.com/jy1pyOHfQm— NBA History (@NBAHistory) January 5, 2023
There’s fatigue over Antetokounmpo’s accomplishments; he’s been raising the bar – beyond comprehension – consistently for several seasons now.
Luka Doncic has already broken records this season with his never before seen 60 point, 21 rebound and ten assist game.
Not only did the performance surpass fellow European and Dallas Mavericks legend Dirk Nowitzki’s previous highest score for the franchise, it became the highest scoring triple-double in league history.
60 PTS— NBA (@NBA) December 28, 2022
Luka Doncic is the first player EVER in NBA history to record 60+ PTS, 20+ REB, and 10+ AST in a game.
With all of these records being shattered by incredibly talented international players, it’s scary to think what the future might look like; there are more international prodigies on the way.
There has been speculation that teams in the NBA are trying to do less than their best in order to be in contention to draft the 19-year-old.
Even Lebron James who was in a similar position coming out of high school has been amazed by the skills Wembanyama posses.
“Everybody’s been a unicorn over the last few years, but he (Wembanyama) is more like an alien,” James said back in October.
“No one has ever seen anyone as tall as he is but as fluid and as graceful as he is on the floor.”
Fans around the world will have to wait until next season to catch a glimpse of Wembanyama; his franchise destination still unknown. But already there’s been one giant Euro-step across the league.