Top 5 NBA players headed to Europe from the NBA this season
This NBA off-season has been one of the best and most explosive in recent memory. Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Anthony Davis, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, D'Angelo Russell and a host of other players all changed teams to much fanfare within the NBA. The coverage has been endless.
Less covered is the number of popular players who, having had comparatively successful careers, are leaving the NBA for pastures new. The NBA has always been a league-wide factory of talent with incredible player turnover. Every once in a while, players with recognition have to leave the NBA for pastures new, whether it be for their declining skill-sets, perception of their skill-sets as being "out-dated", fallout with team management, because playing elsewhere gives them the financial security and stardom that the NBA cannot give them, or because a new generation of talent simply changes the way the game is played (Carmelo Anthony, anyone?).
So, where do the best of the NBA eventually turn up after leaving? The favorite destination appears to be Europe, with its picturesque landscapes, historical cities, cutting-edge fashion, culture, and the chance to play in the Euroleague.
The Euroleague, including teams from Spain, Germany, Lithuania, Russia, Italy, and others, is regarded as the best league for basketball outside the NBA. The Euroleague features 16 teams, playing each other twice -- once at home and once away -- to complete 30 games each. This leads to the top eight teams then facing each other in playoff format, followed by the final four. The final four play a one-off semi-final, which is then followed by a match to decide the third-place winner and the champions, of course.
The Euroleague may not have the glitz of the NBA, but it is regarded as a powerhouse league in its own right. Familiar names in the league include the basketball counterparts of renowned Association Football clubs including the likes of Real Madrid, FC Barcelona, Valencia, Bayern Munich, Fenerbahce, CSKA Moscow.
So who are the Top 5 NBA Players Moving to the EuroLeague this season?
#5 Timofey Mozgov (Center, BC Khimki Moscow Region)
Years in the NBA: 9
NBA Accolades: 1x NBA Champion
Starting off big, quite literally, the 7-foot-1 Russian star is one of the first Russian players to have won an NBA championship, with LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, during the season that led the Golden State Warriors to bring in Kevin Durant, and effectively destroy the league for the next three years.
Mozgov was signed as an undrafted free agent from the very Euroleague team he joined this season by the New York Knicks, and was a serviceable contributor to the Cavs during their Championship run in 2016, after starting for the Cavs in their losing effort against the Warriors the previous season, providing minutes behind Tristan Thompson.
For his part in the Cavs first championship victory, Mozgov was handed a 4 yr, $64 million contract, regarded as one of the worst contracts in NBA history in hindsight. As the league moved away from large, plodding centers in favor of mobile, switchable big men, Mozgov was traded thrice in two years (twice in two days in the 2017-18 season!), not playing much and now finds himself back to the only non-NBA team he has known, Russia's BC Khimki, teaming up with former NBA player Alexey Shved, another player in this list.