The era of American domination is over. The main stars of the NBA were super talent from Europe
Recently, the statistical publication FiveThirtyEight presented a rating of the NBA players who will be of the greatest value to their clubs in the next seven years. Until 2028, the league’s top star assets are expected to be European players, with three European basketball players topping the list. The most valuable asset in the NBA should be 22-year-old Luka Doncic . But do the Americans really have nothing to oppose? Let’s study the forecast in more detail.
The top ten rankings are as follows:
1. Luca Doncic (Dallas Mavericks) – $ 576.53 million
2. Nikola Jokic (Denver Nuggets) – $ 502.87 million
3. Yannis Adetokunbo (Milwaukee Bucks) – $ 367.38 million
4. Lamelo Ball (Charlotte Hornets) – $ 341.90 million
5. Joel Embiid (Philadelphia 76ers) – $ 338.37 million
6. Zion Williamson (New Orleans Pelicans) – $ 301.70 million
7. Jason Tatum (Boston Celtics) – $ 299.94 million
8. Kawhi Leonard (Los Angeles Clippers) – $ 256.63 million
9. Rudy Gober (Utah Jazz) – $ 255.74 million
10. James Harden (Brooklyn Nets) – $ 247.54 million
The publication suggests that among the league’s current superstars for seven years, only James Harden, Anthony Davis (11th) and Damien Lillard (12th) will remain in the top. Kyrie Irving – 31st, Stephen Curry – 33rd, LeBron James – 66th, Kevin Durant – 94th overall. And all of them are outpaced by characters like Fred Vanveleet and R.J. Barrett. At first glance, such a forecast may seem like complete nonsense. But in reality, these figures are only statistics and nothing more. For forecasting, a special CARMELO algorithm is used, and everything is based solely on mathematics. Let’s figure out what affects the final position of the player in the rating.
The most important indicator for determining the trajectory of a player’s career is his age. The algorithm implies that basketball players progress to about 27 years old, and then their performance gradually begins to decline. Other non-player stats include draft number, height, and weight. The taller and larger the player, other things being equal, the better.
Further, only game aspects are taken into account. Engagement percentage, true shooting percentage, threes and free throws percentage (in relation to the total number of shots made). The percentage of assists, losses, rebounds, blocks and interceptions. Each of these metrics is averaged over the past three seasons in the NBA, but the latter has the most weight.
Based on these data, the players are selected who are most similar to each other in terms of statistical indicators. Moreover, the system takes into account almost everyone who has played in the NBA since the merger with the ABA in 1976. The forecast for a particular basketball player is influenced by the results of all players with whom he has at least 1% similarity. Often there are hundreds of them. But the first 10 names have the greatest influence on the forecast – those with whom the most matches were found. Luka Doncic, for example, is closest to Russell Westbrook and Derrick Rose in 2012, as well as Devin Bucker in 2020. Their statistics are 23% identical. In the top ten, Luka also has LeBron, and Durant (both – 16% similarity), and even Kobe Bryant (13%). The way the careers of each of them developed, to a certain extent, influences the assessment of Doncic’s prospects.
Based on all these numbers and comparisons, the player’s overall contribution to the team is assessed in terms of win-over-substitution, or WAR (although this is more commonly used in baseball). This is the end point the algorithm arrives at – a combination of a basketball player’s predicted playing time and on-court performance. At the same time, the indicator is of a probabilistic nature, and every year the spread of probable outcomes becomes larger. But it is the WAR that mostly influences the estimated market value. So, no matter how crazy the list may seem, all the numbers are based exclusively on cold statistical calculation, and not on someone’s violent imagination. Now some conclusions can be drawn from the rating.
In the next few years, the next generational change will finally come to an end in the NBA, which will be marked by the triumph of European players. Adetokunbo and Jokic are already in no way inferior to their more experienced American colleagues. For the third year in a row, they have claimed the MVP of the season. They are both 26 years old, and in these 26 years only one European – Dirk Nowitzki (in 2007) received the award for the most valuable player in the league. Among other things, Giannis became the first foreign basketball player to receive this title twice in a row. This year, to two individual achievements, he added the first (and probably not the last) ring, which practically single-handedly “gnawed” for Milwaukee. Already impressive, but Frick clearly does not intend to stop.
But among Americans, stars of this magnitude have not appeared for a long time. LeBron, Durant, Curry, Harden – these are the players of a different generation who have reached the home stretch of their careers. In terms of youth, the US has rookie of the year Lamelo Ball and incredibly promising Zion Williamson. Of course, no one will write them off. But putting them on a par with Doncic would be a real blasphemy. Both have everything ahead, but Luka is at the top here and now. This is a generational talent. Let it be without rings or MVP titles for now. Although the Slovenian is already called the main contender for the award for the most valuable player of the upcoming season. He is ahead of Adetokunbo and Durant and Curry. And this is being a Dallas player, which Luca has to carry on his own.
The era of American domination is over. In the next few years, the main stars of the league will be precisely the Europeans. In any case, this is indicated by statistics. Sports are unpredictable and anything can happen. However, it seems that, more likely, additional basketball players from the Old World with superstar potential (for example, Frenchman Victor Vembanyama) will appear in the league, to which the Americans will not give a decent answer. “New LeBron” or “new Durant” in the United States is not yet visible even close …