The Turkish national basketball league is home to the EuroLeague defending champions, Fenerbahce. However, it is more than just that. It is also one of the fastest growing European sport leagues in terms of salaries and financial footing.
So, it is no wonder that Turkish teams have been so successful in the recent years in Europe, showing their superiority in top competitions like the EuroLeague, FIBA Basketball Champions League and EuroCup. All success has been nothing but duly deserved. Turkish teams are also favourites for bettors at bookies such as NetBet.
Although ESPN has rated the Spanish Liga ACB as the strongest one of all basketball national leagues in the world (NBA not included), you will be surprised to know that some of the lower level Turkish teams have higher budgets than many Spanish teams. Did you ever wonder why Fenerbahce could afford such high-salary players and compete for the biggest European titles?
Presently there are four Turkish basketball players actively playing in the NBA, all of them products of the Turkish top division teams:
- Omer Asik has been playing in the NBA ever since 2010 (Bulls 2010-2014; Rockets 2012-2014; Pelicans 2014-present) when he was drafted by the Portland Trail Blazers. He came to the NBA from Fenerbahce, where he started his professional career in 2005.
- Cedi Osman is the latest player to come from Turkey in the NBA. At the age of 22, he is currently part of Cleveland Cavaliers where he came in 2017 from Anadolu Efes (formerly Efes Pilsen), the most successful team in the Turkish Super League, and the team of Errick McCollum, the brother of CJ McCollum.
- Ersan Ilyasova is one of the veteran Turkish players in the NBA, having come there in 2005 as part of the Milwaukee Bucks. He left the NBA in 2007 to play for Barcelona, but returned in the roster of the Bucks in 2009 where he stayed until 2015. In the next two years, he had problems settling down which resulted with changing five different NBA teams.
- Enes Kanter was the Jazz’s 3rd pick in the 2011 draft. He started out professionally in Fenerbahce in 2008. Although his NBA career started very slow averaging 4.6 PPG, .3 BPG, 4.2 RPG with a field goal percentage of .667 in his first year, he burst after they traded him to Oklahoma City in 2015 where he averaged a career high of 18.7 PPG, .5 BPG, and 11.0 RPG with a field goal percentage of .776 in 2015. He is still an essential part of Oklahoma.
Not to mention all of the other former NBA players that came from the Turkish leagues, where they grew and matured before being sent to the States. Do you remember Hedo Turkoglu or Mehmet Okur? Hedo and Mehmet came from Anadolu Efes just like Cedi Osman.