Global Game

Exploring International Options

The level of world competition in basketball is as follows, starting at the highest level:

  • NBA
  • Euroleague
  • Top European National Leagues
  • Rest of Europe plus Growing Leagues in Other Parts of the World

There are thousands of professional overseas basketball teams. Aside from the NBA, the “Euroleague” represents the highest international level. In this Pan-European competition, the best European teams from different countries play each other. The Euroleague level is higher than that of any NCAA conference and close to the bottom half of the NBA. All games are televised, and NBA scouts intensely follow every game.

The next level is that of the top National leagues in Europe like Spain, Italy, Greece, Russia, Turkey, France, e.t.c. Leagues in other parts of the world are also getting stronger every year, but teams from those leagues still rely heavily on the individual talent of one or two stars, while European teams often go 10 or 12 men deep and also play more structured basketball.

The rule of thumb is that if a player wants to play professional basketball outside of his own country, then he must be a dominant player. For American college players, this means that they have to average double digits in college and preferably be an All-Conference selection. For non-American players, this usually means membership of their National Team.

What is the Expected Salary on the International Level?

Here are a few guidelines for salary in international competition:

  • No salary caps or collective bargaining agreements (unlike the NBA)
  • Salaries vary wildly, from a few hundred dollars per month to millions per year.
  • Salaries are mentioned in terms of net (after taxes) instead of gross (before taxes)

Many international teams can now compete with the minimum non-guaranteed contracts offered in the NBA. Several international stars have even turned down NBA offers because they could get better deals elsewhere.