Now more so than ever, basketball is a worldwide game. People from all over the world are picking up the sport in hopes of making it to the NBA, and there are tons of players throughout the league who have proven that no matter where you are from if you are good enough, you can make it to the league.
Recently, the NBA has seen an influx of talent come from Europe, which has created a discussion on how the European style of basketball differs from the American style. In America nowadays, kids are getting hype and attention as early as their high school careers if they are good enough. The attention they get may end up having an impact on the way they play the game.
In Europe, it’s a different story. The attention and hype typically don’t surround these players as it does in America, which is worth noting. The differences in training for these players is something that Ekam Nagra discussed with Ball Don’t Stop:
“The reason guys like Luka Doncic and Nikola Jokic have taken the league by storm is because of how they came up in the European development system. The emphasis on skill and IQ. They weren’t conditioned to chase clout.” - Ekam Nagra, Ball Don’t Stop.
Durant disagrees with Ekam Nagra’s take
While Nagra raises some good points, they aren’t points that Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant necessarily agrees with. Durant responded to the post on Ball Don’t Stop’s Instagram account with a comment where he labels guys like Doncic and Jokic as anomalies in the NBA:
“How many overseas guys have come over here and had to go back because they couldn’t survive? Using Luka Doncic and Nikola Jokic who are anomalies seem like an agenda push.” - Kevin Durant, Ball Don’t Stop[
Doncic and Jokic are very good, but Durant has a good point
It’s clear that Doncic and Jokic are two of the best European players that the NBA has ever seen, and their playing style is undoubtedly different from what is typically seen in the league. They both excel in playing as complete games as possible, especially on the offensive side of the ball, as they look to have as few weaknesses as possible. It’s not flashy like the American playstyle at times, but it still works.
But on the other hand, Durant is right. Using Doncic and Jokic in this argument makes sense, but after them, who do you use in that discussion to further your point? As Durant mentioned, many European players struggle with the transition to the NBA; the number that ends up sticking around is much smaller.
Doncic and Jokic are supremely talented, but to say that the European style of basketball is more advanced than America’s based on their talent alone seems shortsighted. More American players make it in the NBA because it’s an American league; the game is more tailored to their skills than their European peers.
So while these overseas players may have unique skill sets that work in Europe or other countries, they may not pan out in the NBA. While you may not have to go as far as Durant did by saying Doncic and Jokic are anomalies, it’s clear that while they are incredibly talented, not every European player has had the success they had in the NBA. For maybe the first time, Durant’s complaining on social media wasn’t as bad as it seemed.