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The Best NBA Players From Every European Country For The 2022-23 Season

Fadeaway World 1/25/2023 Nick Mac

European players currently dominate the NBA. The last 4 MVP awards have been won by them. Here are the best European players from each country.

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The international explosion of basketball players integrating into the NBA is something we have been covering extensively over the course of the past year. The NBA has never been more represented internationally than at this moment. As of the opening night of the 2022-23 season, 120 players from 40 different countries were rostered on an NBA team. Amongst the continents and countries represented, Europe is one of the most prominent with 59 players with either citizenship in a European country or playing for them in international play.

The NBA players from Europe are not simply just members of the National Basketball Association but are among the best players in the league. Four of the Top Five MVP candidates right now are European players which include the last three MVP award winners. Nikola Jokic, from Serbia, is the reigning back-to-back MVP leading the race currently for his third MVP in a row. Before Jokic was Giannis Antetokounmpo from Greece who has been considered the best player in the world over the past three seasons and the 2021 MVP award winner. From there, you have international players who are All-Stars and elite role players across the entire NBA.

The influx of European talent has been a great thing for the NBA, taking its fandom global more than it ever has been. The talent is widespread as well. The Toronto Raptors lead the NBA with eight players born internationally while Mavericks, Pacers, and Kings each have seven international players rostered. All 30 NBA teams have at least one international player on their rosters, making this the most diverse time in NBA history. Today, the focus will be on the 20 countries in Europe that are represented by some of the most elite players in basketball.

The rules are simple. If a player holds citizenship or a passport issued from a European country, they are eligible to represent that country on our list today. This holds true, for example, in the case of Joel Embiid who recently obtained his French citizenship. Players will also be eligible if they represent a European country in international play regardless of where they were born or where they hold primary citizenship. Now, we begin to break down the best player from each European country while also recognizing the ones who made it to the NBA but are not yet the best to represent their homeland.

Without any further ado, here are the best NBA players from every European country for the 2022-23 season.

Austria - Jakob Poeltl

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Honorable Mention: N/A

Jakob Poeltl is a 7’1’’ center from Austria who is in his seventh season in the NBA. He is currently in his fifth year with the San Antonio Spurs where he has made quite a name for himself over the past three seasons. Poeltl began his NBA career with the Raptors after they selected him ninth overall in the 2016 NBA Draft. After two lackluster seasons with Toronto, Poeltl was dealt to San Antonio as a part of the mega-deal that saw DeMar DeRozan head with him to the Spurs and Kawhi Leonard land in Toronto.

After mostly coming off the bench in his first two seasons in San Antonio, Poeltl has come on strong over the last three seasons as their starter. Over the last two seasons, Poeltl is averaging 13.0 PPG, 9.3 RPG, and 1.5 BPG. Poeltl is known as a player with a ton of heart who works hard and makes a great impact on rebounds and defense. With the Spurs seemingly headed toward a full rebuild, teams around the league are chomping at the bit to land him in any deal that makes sense for both parties. Where Poeltl will end up is anybody’s guess but he is certainly the best player from Austria in 2022-23.

Bosnia And Herzegovina - Jusuf Nurkic

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Honorable Mention: N/A

The only player to represent Bosnia and Herzegovina in the NBA currently is Jusuf Nurkick of the Portland Trail Blazers. Nurkic was drafted 16th overall in 2014 by the Chicago Bulls and was later traded to the Denver Nuggets. At first, with Denver, Nurkic mostly came off the bench providing anywhere from 17.0 to 21.0 minutes per game. It was when he was traded to Portland where he is now that he became a much more impactful player.

Over the last seven seasons, Nurkic has played 314 games and made 313 starts with the Trail Blazers. He has averaged 14.5 PPG, 9.9 RPG, 1.0 SPG, and 1.2 BPG over those seven seasons and has battled injury along the way. In 2022-23, however, Nurkic has made 42 starts out of 47 games for the team. He is currently averaging 14.2 PPG, 9.9 RPG, 3.0 APG, and just under 1.0 steals and 1.0 blocks per game on the season. Nurkic has become a fan-favorite in Portland but they may soon look to trade the European giant in order to get a younger roster or draft capital around their other stars.

Croatia - Bojan Bogdanovic

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Honorable Mention: Ivica Zubac, Dario Saric

Bojan Bogdanovic is one of the more underrated players in the game today. After being drafted 31st overall in 2011, Bogdanovic took three years off to play pro basketball overseas in Turkey. He made his NBA debut in 2014-15 for the Brooklyn Nets where he would spend two seasons playing off the bench. From there, Bogdanovic would spend time with both the Utah Jazz and Indiana Pacers over the next five seasons.

Bogdanovic developed into a solid second and their option for his teams averaging 17.4 PPG on 46.3% shooting during those five years. In 2022-23, Bogdanovic is spending time with a new team, the Detroit Pistons, where he has become a solid No. 1 guy. Currently, Bogdanovic is averaging a career-high 21.5 PPG on 49.1% shooting overall and 42.3% from three-point range. Bogdanovic has been at the center of trade discussions as of late considering the Pistons would like to continue to get younger and his trade value has never been higher than at the current moment.

Czech Republic - Vit Krejci

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Honorable Mention: N/A

There isn’t much to say about Vit Krejci as Czech Republic’s sole representative in the NBA. Krejci was drafted 37th overall by the Wizards in the 2020 NBA Draft and traded the following day along with Admiral Schofield and a second-round draft pick in exchange for Cassius Winston and a second-round pick. Krejci would play 30 games with the Thunder in 2021-22 and made eight starts averaging 6.4 PPG in 23.0 minutes of play.

Krejci’s best performance in his rookie season came in a loss against the Clippers where he dropped 16 points on 7-17 shooting from the field. This past September, Krejci was traded by the Thunder to the Hawks for Maurice Harkless and a trade exception. Krejci has made just 18 appearances for the Hawks off the bench and is seeing only 6.0 minutes of play on average. He is currently averaging 1.4 PPG, 0.6 RPG, and 0.6 APG during that time with no signs of getting a larger spot in their rotation.

Finland - Lauri Markkanen

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Honorable Mention: N/A

Lauri Markkanen is one of the great individual stories unfolding before our very eyes in 2022-23. Markkanen was the seventh overall pick of the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2017 but was traded on draft night in the deal that sent Jimmy Butler from Chicago to Minnesota. Markkanen would spend four seasons with the Bulls averaging 15.6 PPG and 7.1 RPG during that stretch. Although he was solid, many believed Markkanen was a waste of roster space due to his consistently missing 30 games or more each season. He was dealt to the Cavaliers in 2021 and spent just one year there averaging 14.8 PPG and 5.7 RPG in 61 games played.

This past summer, Markkanen was once again on the move, this time to the Jazz in a deal that sent Donovan Mitchell back to the Cavaliers. Markkanen has made the most of his opportunity so far in 2022-23 challenging for the NBA’s Most Improved Player award with an amazing start to the year. Through 45 games played, he is averaging 24.8 PPG and 8.8 RPG on 52.1% shooting overall and 42.9% from the three-point range. Markkanane has proved doubters wrong with his consistent play in 2022-23 and for a while made the Jazz one of the more competitive teams out there. Look for him to be a big part of Utah’s rebuild should he keep this level of play going.

France - Joel Embiid

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Honorable Mention: Rudy Gobert, Theo Maledon, Frank Ntilikina, Killian Hayes, Moussa Diabate, Nicolas Batum, Evan Fournier, Ousmane Dieng, Olivier Sarr

Just this past offseason, Joel Embiid received his French citizenship and passport making him eligible for this list. There is no telling if he will join forces with Rudy Gobert on the French National Team but what a sight to see that would be. Embiid missed the totality of his first two seasons in the NBA due to lingering foot issues that would not go away. Once he finally hit the court, there was simply no stopping him. Embiid has become a five-time All-Star as well as an MVP runner-up twice to the eventual winner, Nikola Jokic.

Embiid is one of the best centers in the NBA in 2022-23 and can be considered the best depending on what you value most. Despite playing just 34 games so far, Embiid is averaging 33.6 PPG which leads the NBA along with 9.8 RPG, 4.2 APG, 1.0 SPG, and 1.7 BPG. After winning the scoring title in 2022, Embiid has proved his offensive game is just as strong as his defensive game and it has paid off mightily for the Sixers. At this moment in time, The Sixers are 30-16 on the season just four games back of first place in the Eastern Conference. Projected No. 1 overall pick in 2023, Victor Wembanyama should be challenging for this spot in just a few years' time. 

Georgia - Goga Bitadze

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Honorable Mention: Sandro Mamukelashvili

In 2019, the Indiana Pacers selected Goga Bitadze as the 18th overall pick. For the last four seasons, he has served as their backup center and played a total of 170 games over that time. As a rookie, Bitadze appeared in 54 games and averaged just 3.2 PPG and 2.0 RPG. In his second season in 2020-21, Bitadze appeared in 45 games and averaged 5.1 PPG and 3.3 RPG with the Pacers as they had talented big men like Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis ahead of him in the rotation.

Bitadze had the best season of his career in 2021-22. He appeared in a total of 50 games with 16 starts and averaged 7.0 PPG as well as 3.5 RPG. In 2022-23, Bitadze has appeared in just 21 games off the bench thus far with zero starts and under 10.0 minutes played per game. He is averaging 3.3 PPG and 2.3 RPG in those minutes on the court for Indiana.

Germany - Franz Wagner

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Honorable Mention: Maxi Kleber, Daniel Theis, Dennis Schroder, Isaiah Hartenstein, Moritz Wagner

The battle for the best player from Germany is one that was left up in the air after the retirement of Dirk Nowitzki. One player has begun to shine above the rest in just his second season in the NBA and that is Franz Wagner of the Orlando Magic. Wagner was drafted eighth overall by Orlando in the 2021 NBA Draft and surprised many when he had a breakout rookie season. In 79 games last season, Wagner averaged 15.2 PPG, 4.5 RPG, and 2.9 APG for the Magic and challenged his peers late into the season for Rookie of the Year honors.

Many thought that could have been his ceiling but he has come out even better and stronger in 2022-23. Among the great young talent that the Magic have on their roster, Wagner is among the best along with super rookie Paolo Banchero. In 46 games this season, Wagner is averaging 20.4 PPG, 4.0 RPG, and 3.5 APG improving on his rookie year. Wagner is shooting the ball 49.3% overall from the field and 36.7% from three on only 4.7 attempts per game. Wagner will serve as a big part of the Magic’s future success as many see them as a title contender in the coming years should their young core stay healthy and together.

Greece - Giannis Antetokounmpo

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Honorable Mention: Kostas Antetokounmpo, Thanasis Antetokounmpo

Not only is Giannis Antetokounmpo the best player from Greece currently, but he is also the best player from Greece to ever play in the NBA already. As a young and much leaner kid drafted in 2013 by the Bucks, the expectations for Giannis were quite low at first. By his fourth season, many people realized the talent he possessed was destined for greatness as he got bigger, stronger, faster, and even more talented. Giannis has gone on to become a two-time MVP, a Defensive Player of the Year, and an NBA champion while also claiming the Finals MVP award in 2021.

In 2022-23, Giannis is still considered to be the best player in the world by many fans and analysts across the world as he is having a “down season”. That point is amazing considering through 36 games, he is averaging 30.9 PPG, 11.9 RPG, and 5.3 APG. Injuries and missed time can really diminish a player’s value in many people’s eyes but with Giannis, they are far off on that assumption. Giannis is still in the thick of things for another MVP and he has the Bucks once again challenging for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.

Israel - Deni Avdija

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Honorable Mention: N/A

Technically, Israel is located on the continent of Asia. However, since 1990, Israel has competed in the European Championships so we are willing to make an exception here today. The lone representative for Israel is Deni Avdija who was selected ninth overall by the Wizards in 2020. Avdija has played a nice role off the bench for the Wizards over the last three seasons and seems to be getting much better as time goes on. In 2021-22, he appeared in all 82 games for Washington averaging 8.4 PPG and 5.2 RPG.

Avdija has taken on a much bigger role with the team in 2022-23, already making 30 starts which is more starts than he had in his first two seasons combined. Through 45 games this season, Avdija is averaging 8.1 PPG and 6.0 RPG shooting 42.4% from the field. Avdija is another name to watch for at the deadline as the Wizards look to restructure their roster.

Italy - Danilo Gallinari

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Honorable Mention: Simone Fontecchio

The decision for the best player from Italy at this current time is one of the tougher ones on the list. On one hand, we have Simone Fontechhio who is a rookie with the Utah Jazz only seeing 8.0 minutes per game through 25 appearances with the Utah Jazz. On the other hand, you have Danilo Gallinari who is set to miss this entire season after tearing his ACL just days after signing with the Boston Celtics this past offseason.

With this one, we decided to go with the guy with the better total body of work in his NBA career. Gallinari was set to be a big part of what the Celtics were doing after spending two seasons with the Hawks in 2021 and 2022. Over the last two seasons off the bench in Atlanta, Gallinari was averaging 12.4 PPG and shooting 39.2% from the field overall. Fontechhio is averaging just over 3.5 PPG in his 8.0 minutes of play which still isn’t quite enough to dethrone the injured Gallinari.

Latvia - Kristaps Porzingis

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Honorable Mention: Davis Bertans

The conversation over the past eight seasons about Kristaps Porzingis has taken a turn for the worse. In New York and Dallas, Porzingis became injury prone but was a star on the court whenever he was healthy. He was a defensive machine in New York for the first three and a half years of his career. In Dallas, Porzingis averaged 20.0 PPG and 8.8 RPG over the course of two and a half seasons but played less than 60 games each year he was there.

Now in his first full season with the Wizards, Poringis was challenging to be a reserve in the All-Star game playing at a high level once again with new teammates. Up until he sprained his ankle, Porzingis was averaging 22.1 PPG, 8.8 RPG, and 1.5 BOG through 41 contests with Washington. It seems there has been a spark lit under him to prolong his career as he was the healthiest and most in shape he had ever been at the start of 2022-23. We certainly hope the injury doesn’t linger for the Latvian big man as things just seem more fun when he is on the court.

Lithuania - Domantas Sabonis

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Honorable Mention: Jonas Valanciunas

The gap is beginning to widen for the title of the best player from Lithuania as Domantas Sabonis has taken a commanding lead. Sabnis is the son of former NBA legend Arvydas Sabonis who had an amazing international and NBA career. As the 11th pick of the Magic in 2016, Sabonis broke into the NBA at 20 years old spending just one season with the Thunder before heading to the Pacers. In four and a half seasons with the Pacers, Sabonis became a premier forward/center who was a two-time All-Star and averaged 16.3 PPG, 10.5 RPG, and 4.2 APG.

In 2022-23, Sabonis is in his first full year as a member of the Sacramento Kings, and the rapport between him and star guard De’Aaron F9x has been one of the great storylines of the season so far. Sabonis currently ranks Top 10 in MVP voting as he is leading the way for the Kings to snap their exhausting playoff drought. Through 44 games, Sabonis is averaging 18.7 PPG, 12.5 RPG (leads NBA), and 7.4 APG on the season as the Kings sit at 27-19 and third is the Western Conference.

Montenegro - Nikola Vucevic

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Honorable Mention: Marko Simonovic

For the two-man race in Montenegro, Nikola Vucevic still leads second-tear big man Marko Simonovic for the title of the best player from their country. The two share a roster with the Chicago Bulls where Vucevic remains a starter and is still a big part of their plans. Vucevic most notably spent nine seasons with the Magic where he became a three-time All-Star who averaged 17.6 PPG and 10.8 RPG over the course of eight and a half seasons.

Vucevic is now in his second full season as a member of the Chicago Bulls where he has put up even better numbers than with the Magic at 31 and 32 years old. Vucevic is averaging 18.3 PPG and 11.2 RPG through 145 games with Chicago despite sharing the court with stars such as DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine. In 2022-23, Vucevic has made 46 starts and is averaging 17.4 PPG and 11.2 RPG but the Bulls have fallen from grace after a fantastic 2021-22.

Portugal - Neemias Queta

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Honorable Mention: N/A

Located in Southern Europe, Portugal is one of the most beautiful countries on Earth. Known more for their soccer fanbase and home to Cristian Ronaldo, Portugal does not have a long list of NBA players to hail from their country. As a matter of fact, there has been only one who made his NBA debut in 2021-22. Neemias Queta made history for his country when he was drafted 39th overall by the Kings in the 2021 NBA Draft.

When he made his debut in December 2021, Quetta became the first player from Portugal to play in the NBA and he continues to be rostered by the Kings in 2022-23. He appeared in just 15 games in his rookie season with Sacramento and in 2022-23, has only appeared in four games thus far. Queta is seeing 6.3 minutes per game in those appearances and is averaging 3.0 PPG and 2.3 RPG.

Serbia - Nikola Jokic

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Honorable Mention: Bogdan Bogdanovic, Boban Marjanovic, Aleksej Pokusevski, Nikola Jovic

The selection of the best player from Serbia is one that can be considered the easiest decision on this list. There has been no player better than Nikola Jokic over the past three seasons maybe overall but especially from Serbia. Jokic broke into the NBA in 2014-15 when he was selected in the second round by the Denver Nuggets. By 2018-19, the Nuggets had a star on their hands as he went on to become a four-time All-Star, four-time All-NBA Team selection, and a back-to-back MVP in 2021 and 2022.

Jokic has become perhaps the most talented offensive center to ever play the game with his incredible playmaking and passing skills. He has carried battered and bruised Nuggets teams to the playoffs and is now healthy in 2023, the possibilities are endless with Jokic running the show. The Nuggets currently have the best record in the Western Conference with Jokic leading the way headed for his third straight MVP as of now. Through 41 games played this season, Jokic is averaging 25.1 PPG, 11.0 RPG, 9.9 APG, and 1.0 SPG. With Jokic at the helm, the Nuggets should be considered the favorites to represent the West in the NBA Finals this season.

Slovenia - Luka Doncic

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Honorable Mention: Goran Dragic, Vlatko Cancar

Just as the decision was easy for Serbia, the decision may be even easier for the country of Slovenia. Right behind Jokic in individual player rankings stands Luka Doncic, a young man who has come along and taken the NBA by storm over the last five seasons. Doncic slows the pace down to his liking and dominates opponents as a scorer, passer, and rebounder every single night. He is a former Rookie of the Year, three-time All-Star, and three-time All-NBA Team selection looking for more in 2022-23.

Last season, we witnessed Doncic carry a lackluster Mavericks roster around him to the Western Conference Finals. In 2022-23, we are seeing him do the same thing with an even more lackluster Mavericks roster around him. He is currently averaging 33.6 PPG, 8.9 RPG, and 8.7 APG through 43 games this season. He has the Mavericks in the thick of things once again in fifth place in the West while also establishing himself as a Top 3 MVP candidate on top of it all.

Spain - Willy Hernangomez

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Honorable Mention: Ricky Rubio, Juancho Hernangomez, Usman Garuba, Santi Aldama

Considering the injury that cost Ricky Rubio most of the start to 2022-23, the decision for the best player from Span comes down to a pair of brothers. In this case, Willy Hernangomez is having a slightly better season than his brother Juancho in 2022-23. Willy is in his seventh season in the NBA with his third different team. After spending three seasons with the Knicks and three seasons with the Hornets, Hernangomez is in his Third season with the Pelicans in 2022-23 and is having a small impact on their newfound success.

Hernangomez has appeared in just 22 games for New Orleans this year but is playing okay for a guy seeing only 11.8 minutes of play. In his time on the court, he is averaging 6.9 PPG and 4.6 RPG for the team as they make their way up the standings in the Western Conference. Hernangomez is most likely on his way out at some point due to the lack of space for him in the regular rotation and the depth of the Pelicans roster. Regardless, he is still the best player from Spain in the NBA, at least for now.

Switzerland - Clint Capela

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Honorable Mention: N/A

The country of Switzerland is yet another beautiful country on our list known more for its football than its basketball heritage. There have only been three players in total from Switzerland that have graced the NBA and all have made their debuts over the last 17 years. Clint Capela is the current best Swiss-born player in the NBA. He is in his ninth professional season having spent six seasons with the Rockets from 2015 thru 2020. Now, in his third season with the Hawks, Capela has taken a dip in production due to an injury hindering his time on the floor.

The 2022-23 season has been somewhat unkind to Capela who was injured heading into the season with it clearly still lingering for him currently. He has played 32 games for the Hawks this season and is averaging 12.1 PPG to go with 11.4 RPG and 1.3 BPG on the season as he tries to get back to his former self. Capela has looked better as of late but is being limited on the court time-wise while he recovers.

Turkey - Alperen Sengun

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Honorable Mention: Cedi Osman, Furkan Korkmaz, Omer Yurtseven

The country of Turkey is one with four different players who represent it currently in the NBA. The best and most talented of this group is second-year big man Alperen Sengun who has been one of the few bright spots for the Rockets this season. In his rookie year in 2021-22, Sengun averaged 9.6 PPG, 5.5 RPG, and 2.6 APG mostly off the bench for Houston. This past offseason, Sengun decided to work with Rockets great Hakeem Olajuwon on his moves in the post which have paid off drastically.

Just watching him for a few moments will tell you how special Sengun can be. Earning the starting job early on in the season, Sengun is averaging 15.4 PPG, 8.9 RPG, and 3.3 APG through 43 games this year. His awareness, vision, and skill have been on full display all year long and many, including myself, are all aboard the Sengun hype train as of now. The Rockets have many issues they need to work out but Sengun will be a mainstay with the team if the front office recognizes talent as well as they should.

Ukraine - Alex Len

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Honorable Mention: Svi Mykhailiuk

The country of Ukraine is engulfed in its own list of issues at the moment and too preoccupied to worry about its best NBA player in 2022-23. I wish I had something better to give them than veteran center Alex Len as our selection but alas this is not to be. Len is a 10-year veteran of the NBA after being selected fifth overall in the 2013 NBA Draft. He has made appearances with five different teams in his NBA career and has only averaged above 10.0 PPG once with the Hawks in 2018-19.

Len is currently a member of the Sacramento Kings where he has made just 12 appearances and one start for the team so far in 2022-23. Len is seeing just 3.6 minutes of playing time in those appearances but is trying to make the most of it when he is on the court. Len is averaging 1.1 PPG and 1.3 RPG in those 12 games allowing us to wonder what his future holds for him.

United Kingdom - OG Anunoby

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Honorable Mention: Jeremy Sochan

Basketball is on the rise in the United Kingdom as both of their current representatives are two talented young players with bright futures in the league. OG Anunoby is still their best player as a six-year veteran with the Toronto Raptors, Anunoby has been one of the most promising young talents in Toronto over the last four years, hailed for his offensive ability and lockdown defensive playstyle. Anunoby is having the best season of his career in 2022-23, well in the thick of things for the Defensive Player of the Year award.

Anunoby is currently leading the NBA in steals with 2.1 SPG as he continues to take on the toughest defensive assignments every single night on the court. Not only is he doing that, but he is also averaging a career-high 17.4 PPG as well as 5.7 RPG and 2.0 APG. Apparently, the Raptors have been listening to call on Anunoby for trade but they want a serious return in exchange for one of their bright young stars. Whether somebody is willing to pay the steep asking price is unknown but if he has shown anything this year, it is that he is totally worth it.

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