Dallas Mavericks GOAT Dirk Nowitzki had his German National Team jersey retired to open EuroBasket 2022. He helped his country win a bronze at the World Cup in 2002 and a silver in EuroBasket in 2005. Nowitzki is the greatest German player in history and arguably the best European player of all time.
ESPN’s Kevin Pelton used his championships-added metric to determine the best NBA player to ever play in EuroBasket (subscription required). Nowitzki unsurprisingly topped the list. NBA players were not allowed to play in EuroBasket until 1991, so only recent names appear on the list. Giannis Antetokounmpo and Nikola Jokic finished second and third.
After just four years in the NBA, Luka Doncic was tenth on the list. Can he catch Dirk for the best player to ever play in EuroBasket? Will Giannis or Jokic overtake Nowitzki? Here is a closer look at who will go down as the best player to ever play in EuroBasket 20 years from now.
Dirk Nowitzki is the best to ever play in EuroBasket: Can Luka Doncic catch him?
Nowitzki rated at 1.88 championships added in Pelton’s metric with Giannis second at 1.18. Antetokounmpo is only 27 years old, so passing Dirk is not out of the question. He has put up that number in nine years, and the Greek Freak could easily have nine more years in the league at an elite level. Catching Dirk is not easy because he was so good for so long, but Giannis has a shot.
Nikola Jokic is also 27 years old, but he has a bit further to go to catch Dirk. The Nuggets superstar has won two straight MVP awards, but he would have to double his career production to match Dirk, which won’t be easy.
Luka is an interesting case as he has already added 0.3 championships by himself. Pelton notes, “if Luka merely keeps up this pace, he'll be among the greatest NBA players ever”. Now, factor in that Doncic is 23 years old and he should only improve from here. Number 77 took a significant leap on the defensive end last season, and he will have something new this year.
Catching Dirk Nowitzki will not be easy. He is the European GOAT for a reason, but both Giannis Antetokounmpo and Luka Doncic have a shot. It will take longevity along with greatness. Both are on pace to inner circle Hall of Famers, but reaching Dirk’s status is not easy. It is hard to bet against Luka, but he will need to be elite into his mid-30s to have to a shot at being the best to ever play in EuroBasket.
Who do you think goes down as the best player to take part in EuroBasket 20 years from now? Let us know in the comments.