NBA team rosters feature more than 100 international players, around 25% of all NBA players. The All-Star rosters are a very different story.
Over the years, just 19 out of more than 400 All-Star players had a foreign passport, only about 5%. 13 of the international All-Star players were from Europe. With Europen players rapidly developing to key players such as Luka Doncic or Clint Capela, is it time for more European All-Star Players?
The NBA becomes more international
Europeans who make it into the NBA and succeed as dominating players are no longer a rarity. The Greek Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks is a hot MVP candidate.
— Giannis Antetokounmpo (@Giannis_An34) November 7, 2017
Nikola Jokic is a key player in Denver, one of the top performers in the West. With his playmaker qualities, the Serb is revolutionising the center position.
Rudy Gobert, a Frenchman, was chosen as the best defensive player of the previous season. The list is long.
— Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) December 14, 2018
There are many reasons for this development. Finesse and good passing have displaced the hardness and the individual class of the nineties. Overall, the game has become more sophisticated. The Golden State Warriors set historical standards for three-point throws and won three of the last four championships. Their playing style became a trend.
This tendency partly also comes from Europe. European NBA players like Dirk Nowitzki and Pau Gasol made distance throws and a filigree style of playing popular. Accordingly, some teams, like the Spurs or Mavericks, adapted early tactical elements from Europe and put the focus on a good pass and space game.
Giannis Antetokounmpo was selected for the 2017 and 2018 NBA All-Star Game. Nikola Jokic and Rudy Gobert played in the Rookies Challenge, but so far were snubbed for the All-Star Game. A fate many European NBA players have experienced in the past.
Scepticism towards European talents
In the run-up to this year’s NBA draft in June, Luka Doncic’s great potential was known, but there were still reservations about the 19-year-old.
How Luka Doncic fell to the Mavericks in the NBA Draft, why it’s the perfect marriage and the regret one team is already voicing
— CBS Sports NBA (@CBSSportsNBA) December 17, 2018
Experts and officials in the NBA still widely believe that European players lack the athleticism and toughness to compete in the NBA. Successes and awards in Europe continue to be viewed with scepticism, even though the Euroleague is now regarded as the second strongest league in the world.
It seems that fans also tend to vote for US NBA players rather than their European teammates. Of course, some made it to the All-Star Game in the past (also selected by coaches), but at least the statistics suggest that voters tend to snub European NBA Stars for the All-Star rosters.
Will the voting for the NBA All-Star Game 2019 be different?
Two new Europen NBA Stars who could potentially make it to the 2019 NBA All-Star Game in Charlotte the first time in their career are Luka Doncic and Clint Capela. Luka Doncic was covered in the article about NBA ALL-STAR ROOKIE 2019 HOPEFULS and Clint Capela in the post regarding NBA 2019 ALL-STAR GAME DARK HORSES.
If Luka Doncic should be selected to become an All-Star in February in Charlotte, this would be the first time since Blake Griffin made it to the 2011 All-Star in Los Angeles that a rookie would become an NBA All-Star.
Voting for the NBA All-Star Game 2019 is open from Christmas Day (Tuesday, December 25, 2018), until Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Monday, January 21, 2019).