By Yiannis Bouranis/ email@example.com
With the new season in the NBA starting on Tuesday night, Eurohoops presents all the European players who will take part in the 2015/16 season in the best league of the world. A total of 57 players from the old continent are competing in the top league of the world and have prominent roles in their teams.
Once more France is the country with the biggest representation in the league with a total of 11 players, Spain has six and the duo of Germany and Croatia follow with 4 each. Here’s the list of all the players according to their country of origin.
FRANCE (11 players)
Tony Parker (San Antonio Spurs)
He is one of the leaders in the Spurs golden era. He will do what always does, namely score many points, dish out assists, steal balls and play good defence. He is expected to be the starting point-guard in a team, which is considered the major favourite for the title.
Joakim Noah (Chicago Bulls)
He is the team’s best defender and one of the leaders. The Frenchman can protect the rim but also guard on the perimeter, while he plays decent basketball on the offensive end of the floor. He will probably be the starting center and one of the keys in the team’s effort to become title contender.
Boris Diaw (San Antonio Spurs)
The French power forward is expected to make another decent season with Gregg Popovich’s team, coming off the bench and offering decent solutions both offensively and defensively.
Nicolas Batum (Charlotte Hornets)
After a mediocre season last year, due to injuries, the French wants to return to his previous high standards. He is a capable defender and a productive offensive player, with the Hornets expecting him to stretch the floor and open up space for everyone else to operate.
Rudy Gobert (France, Utah Jazz)
The French player is a great defender, probably the league’s best in protecting the rim, and can easily score in the paint. If he is not affected by his presence in the Eurobasket, he will be able to make the difference from the beginning, probably as a starter this season.
Evan Fournier (France, Orlando Magic)
The French guard is an above average three-point shooter (38% percent from behind the arc), a good rebounder and team player. He will probably come off the bench to score points and play good defence.
Joffrey Lauvergne (France, Denver Nuggets)
He enters his second season with the Nuggets and is expected to be better and play more. The French player has pretty decent handles and a solid post game, while he can finish over both shoulders and is a great rebounder. However, he needs to improve his habit of fouling and his strength as well.
Ian Mahinmi (Indiana Pacers)
The Frenchman will be the starting center this season, and seems perfect for the Pacers new playing style. He is a great defender both above the rim and in the pick’n’roll coverage and his strength helps him to be dominant in the paint. As Indiana’s head coach noted, he will have an advanced and central role this season.
Alexis Ajinca (New Orleans Pelicans)
The 27-year-old center wants to solidify his presence in the team, after a rather inconsistent season last year. Starting the season with a hamstring injury, his target is to adapt to Alvin Gentry’s (Pelicans’ new head coach) up-tempo playing style.
Kevin Seraphin (New York Knicks)
The 25-year-old is a good finisher on the paint and great rim protector. He can offer some decent solutions both offensively and defensively, but needs to remain in good condition all-year long and is expected to come off the bench as Robin Lopez’s backup.
Damien Inglis (Milwaukee Bucks)
The 20-year-old French is an intelligent and athletic player. His versatility can give him steady minutes in the Bucks rotation, however, he should remain fit and healthy, as he had a season-long injury last year.
Spain (6 players)
Marc Gasol (Memphis Grizzles)
He is the leader of his team and one of the best players in the league. This summer, he signed a maximum contract with the Grizzles and will be the barometer in the squad’s effort to make it all the way to the end.
Pau Gasol (Chicago Bulls)
The same goes for Marc’s brother, the great Pau Gasol. The MVP of the 2015 Eurobasket will have a central role in the Bulls’ effort to win the title, alongside Derrick Rose. The Spaniard is expected to score both from the range and in the paint, while he is also a great rebounder.
Ricky Rubio (Minnesota Timberwolves)
The 25-year-old player is one of the best point-guards in the league, however, he has suffered many injuries, so the question is whether he will remain healthy this season. If that happens, though, he is expected to make the difference for the Wolves with his scoring and passing ability.
Jose Calderon (New York Knicks)
The 34-year-old player enters his 17th year as a professional. Calderon had a disappointing and injury-plagued season in New York last year. The Spaniard wants to remain healthy, play as many games as he can and help his team with his shooting and passing ability.
Nikola Mirotic (Chicago Bulls)
In his second season in the NBA, Mirotic will be one of the team’s key players, as he can score in many ways both from the range and the low-post. He still needs to improve his defensive performance, but he will have a central role in the team’s rotation.
Serge Ibaka (Oklahoma City Thunder)
He is coming from an injury, so it will be vital for him to remain healthy during the season. Ibaka is the ideal team-mate for Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant and can be a game-changer with his all-around performance.
Croatia (4 players)
Mario Hezonja (Orlando Magic)
The number five of this year’s draft is coming to the league ready to make the difference. He is confident so far and has a high shooting percentage from the three-point range. He still needs to enhance his defensive performance, but seems ready to make the next step in his promising career.
Damjan Rudez (Minnesota Timverwolves)
The 29-year-old Croatian can offer some solutions offensively mostly from the three-point range. He needs to improve his defence, but can dish out some assists as well. Rudez is expected to be a deep bench player, but he can offer solutions for some minutes on the floor.
Duje Dukan (Sacramento Kings)
The 23-year-old power forward will have to fight to keep his position in the active roster, however, as he has played for very few minutes in the pre-season, Dukan is expected to play in the D-League.
Bojan Bogdanovic (Brooklyn Nets)
The Croatian enters his second season in the NBA, however he seems to be tired after his presence in the 2015 Eurobasket. The team will need his shooting ability from behind the arc, but Bogdanovic’s main target is to remain healthy and fit during the entire season.
Germany (4 players)
Dirk Nowitzki (Dallas Mavericks)
He is the absolute leader and one of the best players in the league with an extraordinary performance on both ends of the floor. However, he will need help from his team-mates in order to make it all the way to end, but is expected to make the difference for his team once again.
Chris Kaman (Portland Trail Blazers)
The seven-foot veteran will do what he always does, namely offer some points in the paint and play good defence. Kaman is a good rebounder and will try to protect the rim.
Tibor Pleiss (Utah Jazz)
After two years in Europe’s top level, the German will play in the NBA for the first time in his career. He will make a decent duo with Rudy Gobert and is expected to protect the rim and dominate the paint on the offensive end, coming off the bench as Gobert’s backup.
Dennis Schroeder (Atlanta Hawks)
The German point-guard made great appearances with the national team in the 2015 Eurobasket. He seems to be in great condition and will come off the bench as Jeff Teague’s backup to change the rhythm of the game and offer solutions offensively.
Serbia (3 players)
Nemanja Bjelica (Minnesota Timberwolves)
Last year’s Euroleague’s MVP decided to make the next step in his career and play in the NBA. The Serbian is an all-around player, who can score points both from the three-point range and the low-post, while he is also a good defender. The only question is whether he will fully adapt to NBA’s playing style which is entirely different to Europe’s one.
Nikola Jokic (Denver Nuggets)
He has impressed everybody in the team with his presence in the pre-season. He has a smooth shooting touch in the paint and a great shooting percentage from the field (78.4%). He will have some playing time in the beginning of the season, as the starting center, Jusuf Nurkic is out with a knee injury until November.
Boban Marjanovic (San Antonio Spurs)
The Serbian giant will play for the first time ever in the NBA. His size and height makes him dominant inside the paint on both ends of the floor, however his defence in the perimeter is obviously mediocre. He is expected to be Tim Duncan’s backup and coach Gregg Popovich knows how to get the most out of him.
Russia (3 players)
Sergey Karasev (Brooklyn Nets)
The Russian is coming from an injury that kept him out of action for six months. However, he now seems to be in an ideal condition and enjoys the team’s up-tempo playing style. What remains to be seen is whether he will find some playing time with Bogdanovic, Ellington and Jones playing the same position.
Sasha Kaun (Cleveland Cavaliers)
Although he had officially retired early in the summer, at least from Europe, he changed his mind and will now play for Lebron James’ squad. His size and length can let him score points in the paint, grab rebounds and also protect the rim, however the question is whether he will adapt to the up-tempo playing style in the NBA.
Timofey Mozgov (Cleveland Cavaliers)
Last year, he came a step away from winning the NBA title, having a vital role in the team’s playing style. This year, it will be one of the same for the Russian, who will again be the starting center and will need to protect the rim and score in the paint.
Slovenia (3 players)
Goran Dragic (Miami Heat)
The Slovenian will have a central role in Miami’s effort to be competitive in the Eastern Conference. He is an up-tempo guard with good shooting percentage and great finishing ability at the rim and is expected to create a great and dangerous duo with Dwayne Wade on the backcourt.
Beno Udrih (Memphis Grizzles)
The Slovenian is excellent at mid-range jumpers and running the offence for the Grizzlies, however he is not a solid defender and needs to improve that, as he is expected to come off the bench as Mike Conley’s backup.
Sasha Vujacic (New York Knicks)
The Slovenian is a versatile player offensively and a great three-point shooter. He will come off the bench as Arron Afflalo’s backup, as Derek Fisher wants to take advantage of his ability to guard different positions. Vujacic has made a great start to the pre-season, so he will have more playing time in his first full-time appearance in the NBA since 2011.
Turkey (3 players)
Ersan Ilyasova (Detroit Pistons)
Coming from one of the best seasons in his career with the Milwaukee Bucks, he will now try to do the same with the Detroit Pistons. He is capable of scoring in different ways and grabbing rebounds, however he is not so good defensively.
Omer Asik (New Orleans Pelicans)
The Turkish center faced some injuries, just like Ajinca, so he will now try to return to his previous standards. He created a decent duo with Anthony Davis last year, and the new head coach, Alvin Gentry, is expecting him to be solid defensively and score points from offensive rebounds and put-backs on the other end of the floor.
Enes Kanter (Oklahoma City Thunder)
The Turkish center made a decent season last year, as Russell Westbrook’s supporting cast. This season, he will again be the starting center and is expected to score many points in the paint. However, he needs to enhance his defensive performance in order to protect the rim and become a player of the top level.
Italy (3 players)
Andrea Bargnani (Brooklyn Nets)
The Italian center is still facing injuries, so the main question is whether he will remain healthy and fit during the season. Bargnani is one of the worst defenders of the league, while also a poor rebounder. However, he is expected to offer some solutions offensively either from the range or the low-post.
Danilo Gallinari (Denver Nuggets)
The Italian is one of the team’s leaders and is expected to be a central figure in the team’s effort to remain competitive. As he did in the previous years, he will try to take advantage of his all-around performance and offer solutions offensively both from the range and in the paint, while he is also a good defender and rebounder.
Marco Belinelli (Sacramento Kings)
After a successful presence with the San Antonio Spurs, he signed with the Sacramento Kings and will be one of the team’s central figures. The Italian guard is capable of providing outside shooting as well as decent solutions defensively (rebounds, steals) and that’s exactly what the Kings coach, George Karl, is expecting from Belinelli.
Lithuania (2 players)
Donatas Motiejunas (Houston Rockets)
He lost most of the games last season due to a serious injury, however he will enter the season ready to return to his high standards. He plays decent basketball on both ends of the floor, however he has to change some things defensively and remain healthy and fit. If he is in good condition, he will probably be a starter.
Jonas Valanciunas (Toronto Raptors)
The Lithuanian center is one of the team’s leaders. He signed a new contract this summer and is ready to make the difference for his team. He is an excellent finisher and dominant in the paint, while he is a good defender, rebounder and shot-blocker.
Montenegro (2 players)
Nikola Pekovic (Minnesota Timberwolves)
The center from Montenegro is simply unstoppable on both ends of the floor, but he has suffered many injuries in the past couple of years, so the question is whether he will remain fit and healthy during the season. He will come off the bench, but it’s up to him to become a starter.
Nikola Vucevic (Orlando Magic)
He was the best player of the team last season, as he averaged a double-double (19.3 points, 10.9 rebounds). He did so through some great offensive moves, elegant footwork and neat passing. During the pre-season, he improved his defensive skills and seems ready to be the leader of the team on both ends of the floor, as he will be the starting center.
Greece (2 players)
Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks)
The “Greek Freak” is getting ready for an explosive season this year. Averaging 12.7 points and 6.7 rebounds last year, the Bucks are expecting from the 20-year-old forward to make the difference this year. According to his coach, Jason Kidd, the Greek player will play all five positions for the team this season.
Kosta Koufos (Sacramento Kings)
The Greek-American center will come off the bench, as DeMarcus Cousins’ backup, to play good defence and score in the paint, as he did with the Memphis Grizzlies. He has enhanced his overall performance in the last two or three years and will have a significant role in the Kings active roster.
Switzerland (2 players)
Tabo Sefolosha (Atlanta Hawks)
He is an exceptional defender and can guard different positions. Offensively, he can score points both from the range and the low-post. Sefolosha is expected to come off the bench, but needs to remain healthy.
Clint Capela (Houston Rockets)
The 21-year-old power forward is expected to protect the rim and score points in the paint. He has been tremendous in the pre-season so far, and needs to continue the same way.
Bosnia and Herzegovina (2 players)
Mirza Teletovic (Phoenix Suns)
The 30-year-old forward is a great three-point shooter, but can also score from the low-post, as he can take advantage of his strength. The Suns’ playing style suits him well and is expected to have a significant role in Phoenix’s playing style.
Jusuf Nurkic (Denver Nuggets)
After his rookie season and flashes of his talent, Nurkic is ready for a more important role in Denver’s rotation. He is still a work in progress but his talent and abilities can’t be denied. At just his 21 years of age he is still learning the game, but his potential seem amazing.
Israel (1 player)
Omri Casspi (Sacramento Kings)
Casspi is expected to be Rudy Gay’s backup. He could still work on his turnovers, and while his shot looks better, there is more room for improvement. The Israeli will dive for loose balls, bring energy by running the floor hard and compete for rebounds.
Great Britain (1 player)
Luol Deng (Miami Heat)
The forward will try to co-operate effectively with Dwayne Wade and Goran Dragic and is expected to be at the same high standards as he was last year, when he averaged 14 points and 5.2 rebounds per game.
Poland (1 player)
Marcin Gortat (Washington Wizards)
The Polish is a great pick’n’roll player, who can set good screens and score both in the paint and from the perimeter. He is expected to have the second biggest impact on the team’s offence, behind John Wall.
Sweden (1 player)
Jonas Jerebko (Boston Celtics)
Jerebko is a player who can do all things and play various roles offensively and defensively. He is expected to come off the bench to defend a couple of positions and score in the paint.
Ukraine (1 player)
Alex Len (Phoenix Suns)
The 7-foot-1 player is an excellent rebounder, a quality shooter and good shot-blocker, while he is also trying to improve his low-post game. He will come off the bench as Tyson Chandler’s backup and is expected to improve many elements of his game.
Georgia (1 player)
Zaza Pachulia (Dallas Mavericks)
The Georgian player will be Nowitzki’s team-mate and one of the key players. He will probably come off the bench and is expected to score points both from the low post and inside the paint, while he has to remain solid defensively and (at least) protect the rim.
Latvia (1 player)
Kristaps Porzingis (New York Knicks)
If the number four in the 2015 NBA Draft remains healthy and out of foul trouble, then he can prove he is a smooth and confident scorer. He also showed he is a capable rebounder, but lacks experience, so we will need to be patient with him.