There is no question that reaching the NBA is the epitome of a career for an NBA player and a dream come true. After all, it is the best basketball league in the world and the biggest stage filled with the cream of the crop. All the best players in the world are here, and if you can hang with them, you are elite. But that doesn't mean that basketball outside the NBA is no good. On the contrary, despite popular belief, overseas basketball is serious stuff.
Former NBA player speaks out
Bonzie Colson is probably a name not even the biggest NBA junkies are familiar with. But with sound reasoning. Bonzie only played in eight NBA games back in the 2018-2019 season with the Milwaukee Bucks, averaging 4.9 ppg and 3.8 rpg. After getting no real chance to play, Bonzie took his talents to Europe, where he has spent his last three years playing for teams in Turkey and France.
Colson has found a home in Europe, playing a significant role for his teams. You would think that is a regular occurrence for NBA players who go on to play overseas, but the situation is vastly different. Despite all the talent and skill, a lot of NBA players don't adjust well to the diverse culture and rules, as they quickly flame out and go back.
How can that be, considering the NBA is the top and going overseas is a downgrade. Well, Colson recently spoke about that topic and explained why playing in Europe is actually a lot tougher than people think:
"Playing in the NBA is easier than playing in Europe. There is more space. The three-second rule doesn't exist here. There are many different rules. That's why players are constantly changing places. Scoring is easier in the NBA."
Bonzie Colson, Eurohoops.Net
We often hear players that had the chance to play both in Europe and the NBA that scoring is much easier in the NBA. Most notably, the Mavs superstar Luka Dončić who translated his game perfectly to the States. But what is the reason behind this?
Well, the NBA is based much more on offense, open-space, fast basketball, and showtime, which is extremely entertaining for the fans and a huge reason for its popularity. On the other hand, basketball in Europe is still more traditional, based around strategy, hard play on both ends of the floor, and team systems.
Coaches have much more of a role in Europe, basically drawing up how many shots any player will get in a game with their playbook. It's rare to see a shoot-at-will type of system in Europe, with teams trying to score in a team-oriented surrounding. Also, a couple of rules and measurements help the cause. The floor is much wider in the NBA, giving players more space to operate and create their shots.
Also, the defensive three seconds in the key don't exist in Europe, making the traditional center that packs the paint and protects the rim still a necessity. That makes it vastly harder for a player to score at the rim with ease, like in the NBA. All those small differences have a huge impact on players. When you mix in the fact they leave their home to live in an entirely another country, the situation gets a bit more logical.
Only the best and mentally ready manage to make that transition from the NBA to Europe. That's why you shouldn't disrespect European basketball and think of players playing there any less. Playing professionally at any high level isn't easy, and it's great to see it get more recognized in the last few years.