let’s have a look at how the biggest and best basketball leagues on earth (other than the NBA) stack up against one another. Let’s see
Top basketball leagues in the world outside the NBA.
Players advance the ball by bouncing it while walking or running (dribbling) or by passing it to a teammate, both of which require considerable skill.
On offense, players may use a variety of shots – the layup, the jump shot, or a dunk; on defense, they may steal the ball from a dribbler, intercept passes, or block shots; either offense or defense may collect a rebound, that is, a missed shot that bounces from rim or backboard.
It is a violation to lift or drag one’s pivot foot without dribbling the ball, to carry it, or to hold the ball with both hands then resume dribbling.
The five players on each side fall into five playing positions. The tallest player is usually the center, the second-tallest and strongest is the power forward, a slightly shorter but more agile player is the small forward, and the shortest players or the best ball handlers are the shooting guard and the point guard, who implements the coach’s game plan by managing the execution of offensive and defensive plays (player positioning). Informally, players may play three-on-three, two-on-two, and one-on-one.
The Liga ACB, the top flight of Spanish basketball, is a veritable breeding ground of talent for the Spanish national team as well as the NBA, and is among the most welcoming destinations for talent from around the planet.
The Gasol brothers, Pau and Marc, got their respective starts in the Liga ACB. So, too, did star point guards Ricky Rubio and Jose Calderon, as well as shot-swatting dynamo Serge Ibaka. It has seen the likes of Jorge Garbajosa, Juan Carlos Navarro and Rudy Fernandez grace its courts in the past, and the NBA is soon due to welcome Victor Claver next.
The ongoing success of La Roja on the international stage and the 11 Euroleague championships claimed by Spanish sides only serve to strengthen and elevate the profile of the Liga ACB as Europe’s finest basketball outfit and the best in the world beyond David Stern’s jurisdiction.
Greece’s NBA exports have slowed to a trickle in recent years. Though, if anything, that’s only strengthened HEBA A1, the country’s top flight of club basketball.
It’s no wonder, then, that Greek teams have fared as well as they have in the Euroleague since the 1990s. Panathinaikos and Olympiakos have combined to claim eight Euroleague crowns in the last 16 years, with three more runner-up finishes for Greek clubs coming in that same span.
As scant as Greece’s presence in the NBA has been, Americans have never been shy to go Hellenic. Dominique Wilkins and Josh Childress are among the most notable Yanks to play in Greece, and college stars and NBA ex-pats regularly stock HEBA’s rosters.
Liga Nacional De Basquet
The title of “Top Non-NBA Basketball League in the Americas” belongs squarely to Argentina’s Liga Nacional de Basquet.
For years, Argentina’s top league has served as a breeding ground for some of the best basketball talent in all of South America.
The national team has been, and continues to be, stocked by stars who started in Liga A, including Manu Ginobili, Luis Scola, Carlos Delfino, Fabricio Oberto, Andres Nocioni and incoming New York Knicks rookie Pablo Prigioni.
The Liga Nacional hasn’t had the same impact among imports as have some of its counterparts across the globe, though Argentina’s continued ascent as an economic power and a destination nation figures to change that in the years to come.
Turkish Basketball League
Like the country as a whole, the Turkish Basketball League is a burgeoning power not just in Europe, but around the world.
A member of FIBA Europe, the Turkish Basketball League has yet to turn out a Euroleague champion, though that figures to change in the years to come.
The league officially formed in 1969, but club ball has existed in Turkey since the early 20th century, with Galatasaray (1911) and Fenerbahce (1913) leading the way.
Today, those teams, along with Besiktas (among others), have managed to barge their way onto the international basketball scene, thanks in no small part to the successes that players like Hedo Turkoglu, Ersan Ilyasova, Omer Asik and Enes Kanter have enjoyed in the NBA.
French Pro A League
The first division of French hoops has sent its fair share of talent to the NBA in the last decade or so. Tony Parker is the best and most decorated player from the home nation of Les Bleus—and even has an ownership stake in Lyon-Villeurbanne—but is hardly the only player of note to hail from north of the Alps.
Among active players, he’s joined by Batum, Mickael Pietrus, Kevin Seraphin, Ian Mahinmi, Johan Petro, Boris Diaw and soon-to-be-rookies Nando de Colo and Evan Fournier.
As for famous retired alumni, Michael Ray Richardson and JR Reid both spent time in the French Pro A League after making their way around the U.S., while Bruce Bowen honed his craft in France before becoming a regular on the All-Defensive list in the NBA.