EuroLeague for dummies

2018-10-11T13:41:09+00:00 2018-10-11T17:04:34+00:00.

Aris Barkas

11/Oct/18 13:41

Eurohoops tries to answer some basic questions that most casual US fans have for the top European competition.

By Aris Barkas/

With almost 60 former NBA players competed in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague and the exposure that the league had during the past year, due to the presence of Luka Doncic, more and more US casual fans may watch a bit of European basketball.

In Eurohoops we believe that basketball is a global language, but in some cases, key details are lost in translation. We have received many questions about things that are well-known facts to the average European basketball fan but are puzzling for people on the other side of the pond. With the new season starting today, we try to answer many of those basic questions.

– Is the EuroLeague the only league in Europe?  

No. In total there are four continental competition. Those are the EuroLeague, the 7DAYS EuroCup, the Basketball Champions League, and the FIBA Europe Cup. Add to those four the domestic league of each country, or in some cases like the Adriatic League in the former Yugoslavia and the VTB United League in the Eastern Europe some regional ones.

– So Amar’e Stoudemire, Brandon Jennings, and Norris Cole don’t play in the EuroLeague? 

No. Amar’e Stoudemire plays for Hapoel Jerusalem in the Basketball Champions League (continental competition), the Israeli Winner league and the Israeli Cup (domestic competitions). Brandon Jennings is a member of Zenit St. Petersburg which competes in the EuroCup (continental competition) and the VTB United League (domestic/regional competition). Norris Cole has signed with Scandone Avellino which plays in the Basketball Champions League (continental competition), the Italian Legabasket and the Italian Cup (domestic competitions).

– How many teams compete in the EuroLeague?  

Out of literally hundreds of European clubs, only 16 teams compete in the EuroLeague. For this season this clubs are Anadolu Efes Istanbul, AX Armani Exchange Olimpia Milan, Buducnost VOLI, CSKA Moscow, Darussafaka Tekfen, FC Barcelona Lassa, FC Bayern Munich, Fenerbahce Istanbul, Herbalife Gran Canaria, Khimki Moscow Region, Kirolbet Baskonia, Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv, Olympiacos Piraeus, Panathinaikos OPAP, Real Madrid and Zalgiris Kaunas. Only those clubs, which are considered more or less the top of the domestic leagues get to be in the EuroLeague. That’s why the general level of play in the EuroLeague is considered the best in Europe and is much higher than the average level of a domestic league.

– How much money each team can spend? 

As much as they can. There’s not any kind of salary cap restrictions. Having said that, an average EuroLeague salary budget is around 15 million euros, including taxes. A few teams can spend much more and create the European version of a super team. During the last few years, the real big spenders are CSKA Moscow, Fenerbahce, Real Madrid, and Barcelona. Still, in general, most teams are practically losing money either from their pocket of their owners or by money given to them from the usually very wealthy football – we mean soccer – section of the club.

– Do you have advanced stats, depth charts and box scores?

The short answer is yes. The stats are here and the roster and depth charts are here. While the teams have advanced stats, there’s no official source for them. Still with a good amount of google search you can find them. Take into mind, especially about the depth charts, that the mentality in European ball is much more team oriented. The starters are not an institution like it happens in the States and notoriously a EuroLeague MVP, Theo Papaloukas, always started the game from the bench.

– Is the EuroLeague better than the NCAA? 

There’s no comparison. EuroLeague is a league of grown men and you will not see many teens in the teams’ roster. In general NBA prospects don’t get minutes in the EuroLeague because they are not yet ready for this level. Doncic was an exception, a talent that has not appeared in Europe since the days of Drazen Petrovic. Many EuroLeague players have been drafted and even have NBA experience. Moneywise, EuroLeague alongside China are the best options for a player outside the NBA. Plus the game rules of the EuroLeague are much closer to those of the NBA, even if there are some differences…

– Wait! The rules of the NBA and the EuroLeague are not the same? 

No. A EuroLeague game is 40 minutes long, there’s no illegal defense and no defensive three seconds violation, which is one of the main reasons for the different style of play. And besides the rules, there’s an obvious difference in the athletic abilities of the players. However, the level of top EuroLeague teams can be considered comparable to the NBA.

– Is the EuroLeague popular? 

In general, basketball takes the second seat to football – you get it, soccer – in Europe. In some countries, like the UK, when someone speaks about basketball, he probably speaks about the NBA. However, that’s not the case almost for every other major European country. Basketball is widely considered the second most popular sport behind football – soccer – and in countries like Lithuania, it’s a second religion. With the notable exception of UK, all the big European countries have teams in the EuroLeague and France, which has also missed the cut in recent years, will have a team from next season, ASVEL which is owned by Tony Parker.

– Why France does not have a team in the EuroLeague, but they have so many players in the NBA? 

It has nothing to do with the NBA and the level of French talent. It’s because of the FIBA vs EuroLeague debate and believe us, you don’t want to get into this…

If you have any other questions, please feel free to mail them to and we will get back at you soon.