"American" EuroLeague: 119% more USA players after 20 seasons

Posted on 25 March, 2024 by Dimitrije Curcic
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We analysed 2,581 players from 85 Euroleague teams from 2000-01 to 2019-20 season. The focus was on players from the USA, and their continued growth over the years.


USA players dominate the Euroleague: 

  • Share of Americans in the Euroleague grew by 119% since the 2000-01 season.
  • Their minutes share in the league grew by 84%, and points share by 76% since the first EL season.
  • Europeans are declining in the Euroleague, dropping by 27% since the 2000-01 season.
  • Since the 2016-17 season, there are more Americans than homegrown players in the league.
  • It’s the opposite story in the NBA league - Americans dropped by from 91% to 77%, while Europeans rose from 4% to 13%.

Since the first Euroleague season, 2,581 players represented 85 different teams. No other country has had more Euroleague players in EL than the USA - more than the next 4 countries combined:

Historical trend shows that the number of American players is increasing over time. 2019-20 EL season was the first one with more than 30% of players coming from the States. Since the first EL season, the share of USA players in the league increased by 119%, from 14.6% in 2000-01 to 31.9% in 2019-20. Their minutes jumped by 84% and points scored by 76%:

American guards were dominant in the early El years. During the second decade of the competition, centres from the USA have become increasingly in demand. This could be due to the movement of a 3-point line further from the basket, which made teams desperate to replace “old-school” European big men with more agile athletes, and the USA proved to be an endless source:

Another interesting aspect is the number of USA players relative to a number of European players in the EL. The trend presented in the chart poses an interesting question: will the day come when we'll have more American than European players in the Euroleague?

Here is what this trend brought - 2016/17 season was the first in EL history in which American players spent more time on the court than home-grown players:

Here is the breakdown of minutes played by homegrown VS American players for the most popular countries, presented as the share of the team’s total:

Since the 200-01 EL season, these are 10 teams with the highest and lowest share of Americans on their rosters:

Americans, along with the whole Euroleague, have never been older than last season:

Does having more US players mean being more successful? It doesn’t seem like that. There’s absolutely no positive correlation between how much USA players spend on the court and winning% (in fact, there is a (very weak) negative correlation).

What’s interesting is that the NBA league is also facing a decline in the share of USA players, while they’re on the rise in the Euroleague. Since the 2000-01 season, Americans share dropped from 90% to 77% in the NBA, while growing from 14% to 32% in the EL:

Similarly, European players are rising in the NBA, while declining in Euroleague. In the 2000-01 season, 4% of the league’s players came from Europe. Today that number is 13%, while they’ve dropped from 84% to 61% in Euroleague.

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Dimitrije Curcic
Dimitrije Curcic
Dimitrije Curcic has been playing basketball for over 22 years. Like Manu Ginobili, he’s a left-hander whose moves led him to a better career-shooting percentage than the Argentine himself. After playing professionally for 10 years, Dimitrije moved to coaching for two seasons before he became a basketball statistician for StatScore, and FanSided contributor for the San Antonio Spurs. Dimitrije loves to tell hoop stories through numbers and graphics and has been featured on Fansided, FiveThirtyEight, Eurohoops, and TalkBasket among the others.