The NBA is full of phenomena and has at least 450 players, 15 for each franchise. In addition, we must add all those players who go back and forth from the G-League with those two-way contracts that allow many young people to live “The American Dream” and hope, one day, to have a chance.
This means that there are some beautiful stories, like that of Keifer Sykes, who went from the Chicago suburbs to the NBA via Italy, as you can read here. Throughout this whirlwind of basketball players, in the NBA there are also athletes we know by name, but who we didn’t know were playing overseas.
Below we propose 3 names that you have most likely already heard of or seen playing in Italy, but which you did not think had managed to snatch an NBA contract.
The first name we propose is, in our opinion, probably the most interesting. The Lithuanian born in 1998 began (seriously) his professional career in Italy, especially in Sicily, in Capo d’Orlando. That season was historic for the paladins because it saw them protagonists in the FIBA Europe Cup, the first and only time in Europe for the Sindoni family club recently relegated to Serie B. Kulboka was among other things elected best young player in the European competition. After his first season as a pro in Sicily, he had the opportunity to travel around Europe between Germany and Spain, until he landed in the NBA with the Charlotte Hornets jersey. In truth he is not a real Charlotte player because he signed the classic two-way contract and spent most of his time in the G-League with Greensboro Swarms. With the Hornets he played 2 games and 5 minutes in total, scoring 0 points.
This is a cult name, for true nerds of the Italian league. If you have reconnected it to some Italian team, either you are super fans of Cremona or you are addicted to Italian basketball. Indeed the good Gabe signed for Vanoli as a rookie way back in 2016, in July, but was cut even after 2 months from the start of the championship; he hurt so much that he couldn’t even “Eat the panettone”, as they say in these cases. After his (dis) Italian adventure, he questioned himself again. And between Srasburgo and Tel-Aviv (Hapoel) he set up good numbers, so much so that he signed first in the G-League with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, and then a two-way contract with the Indiana Pacers. Thanks to many absences in the Pacers, this year he played 2 games in the NBA, also playing 10.5 minutes on average and scoring 4.0 points at lace-up.
Where did we hear this? Why do we know him? Ah yes, he won the European Championship with Luka Dončić and Goran Dragić’s Slovenia. Čančar was one of the protagonists of that historic ride, which is difficult to repeat. The center born in 1997, after that experience at Eurobasket 2017, in 2019 managed to snatch a contract with i Denver Nuggets after that in 2017 he had been 49th choice in the draft. Since then, however, he hasn’t gotten much of a chance, so much so that he has often been sent to the G-League in the Colorado franchise affiliate, the Grand Rapids Gold. In 3 seasons in Denver he made 70 appearances, for 2.3 average points. This summer he is a restricted free agent, we will see what his future will be. His return to the EuroLeague cannot be ruled out, a competition where he could make a difference.
The NBA is a beautiful world for that too. Because it is able to give surprises or incredible stories. These are some, we could tell you dozens of them, considering only the last five years.
Born in 1996. Collaborator for BasketUniverso since March 31, 2014. Graduated in Humanities for Communication at the State University of Milan. In love with sports and his stories, with a predilection for basketball and football.
#players #didnt #NBA