Thursday, 18 Jul 2024

The Top Basketball Leagues Outside the NBA

biggest leagues in the world

Are you a basketball fan looking for high-quality basketball outside the NBA? Look no further! In this article, we will explore the top 12 basketball leagues in the world outside the NBA. From the EuroLeague to the Chinese Basketball Association, these leagues showcase incredible talent, fierce competition, and passionate basketball culture. Let’s dive in!

1. EuroLeague

The EuroLeague, often referred to as the basketball version of soccer’s Champions League, features the top European clubs. With games played during the week and in their own countries’ leagues on the weekends, the EuroLeague attracts the best basketball talent in Europe.

Top 12 basketball leagues in the world outside the NBA

Regular-season schedule: October to April
Teams in current season: 16
Defending champion: CSKA Moscow

Notable: The EuroCup, run by the EuroLeague, is the second-level transnational league in Europe. Success in the EuroCup allows a team to move up to the EuroLeague the following season. Keep an eye on Real Madrid’s Slovenian guard Luka Doncic, a prodigious talent making waves in the EuroLeague.

2. Spain’s Liga ACB

Spain’s Liga ACB has a rich basketball history, with powerhouses FC Barcelona and Real Madrid dominating the league. The ACB operates a system of relegation, where the last two teams in the standings drop to the second division, LEB Oro.

Regular-season schedule: October to May
Teams in current season: 17
Defending champion: Real Madrid

Notable: The ACB has produced numerous NBA All-Stars, including the Gasol brothers and Kristaps Porzingis. With a strong connection to the NBA, the league is a breeding ground for top basketball talent.

3. Turkish Basketball Super League (BSL)

The Turkish Basketball Super League has seen a surge in quality and investment in recent years. Teams like Anadolu Efes and Fenerbahce are considered among the best in Europe and compete at the highest level.

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Regular-season schedule: October to April
Teams in current season: 16
Defending champion: Fenerbahce

David Blatt

Notable: The BSL is currently coached by former NBA coach David Blatt, who has found success in Europe. Keep an eye on Furkan Korkmaz, a young forward with great potential.

4. Russia’s VTB United League

Russia’s VTB United League features teams not only from Russia but also from Estonia, Latvia, Kazakhstan, and Belarus. This transnational league showcases the best of Russian basketball and its neighboring countries.

Regular-season schedule: October to April
Teams in current season: 13
Defending champion: CSKA Moscow

Notable: The VTB United League has become a top destination for international players looking to establish themselves in Europe. Former University of Kansas star Keith Langford is one example, now one of the best players in Europe.

5. Germany’s Basketball Bundesliga (BBL)

Germany’s Basketball Bundesliga (BBL) aims to become one of Europe’s best leagues in the near future. With strong financial backing, well-marketed teams, and a pipeline of young German talent, the league is rapidly growing.

Regular-season schedule: September to May
Teams in current season: 18
Defending champion: Brose Bamberg

Jared Jordan

Notable: The BBL has attracted players like Jared Jordan, who led the NCAA in assists before finding success in Germany. Isaac Bonga, a promising German prospect, is someone to watch out for.

6. Italy’s Lega Basket Serie A (LBA)

Italy’s Lega Basket Serie A is one of the oldest professional basketball leagues in Europe, dating back to 1920. The league has unique roster composition rules, adding an interesting dynamic to team formations.

Regular-season schedule: October to May
Teams in current season: 16
Defending champion: Olimpia Milano

Notable: Houston Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni had a successful career in Italy before making his mark in the NBA. The Italian league has a rich history and a strong basketball culture.

7. France’s LNB Pro A

France’s LNB Pro A, formed in 1921, is considered the top basketball league in the country. ASVEL, owned by San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker, is one of the most successful clubs in French basketball history.

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Regular-season schedule: September to May
Teams in current season: 18

Tony Parker

Defending champion: ASVEL

Notable: ASVEL is not only successful in the French league but has also produced NBA star Tony Parker. This league is known for its rich basketball tradition.

8. Adriatic League (ABA)

The Adriatic League is a regional league featuring teams from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Slovenia. It has become a development league, nurturing talents like Dario Saric, Jusuf Nurkic, and Nikola Jokic.

Regular-season schedule: September to March
Teams in current season: 14
Defending champion: KK Crvena zvezda

Notable: The Adriatic League’s predecessor, the Yugoslav League, produced legendary players like Drazen Petrovic, Vlade Divac, and Toni Kukoc.

9. Greek A1 League

Greek basketball is known for its fierce rivalry between Olympiakos and Panathinaikos, two of the most successful and passionate teams in the country. The Greek A1 League is packed with exciting matchups and intense competition.

Regular-season schedule: October to April
Teams in current season: 14
Defending champion: Olympiakos

Notable: The Olympiakos-Panathinaikos rivalry is legendary, creating an electrifying atmosphere in every game. The rivalry extends beyond basketball to their soccer teams as well.

10. Australia’s National Basketball League (NBL)

Australia’s National Basketball League (NBL) has been a prominent league since its establishment in 1979. With teams from Australia and New Zealand, the league showcases impressive talent and has the potential to expand further.

Regular-season schedule: October to February
Teams in current season: 8
Defending champion: Perth Wildcats

Notable: The NBL features a challenging road trip known as the Doomsday Double, playing against the Perth Wildcats and Adelaide 36ers over one weekend. Terrance Ferguson, a talented prospect, is making waves in the league.

11. Lithuania’s LKL

Lithuania’s LKL holds a special place in the hearts of basketball fans, as the sport is deeply ingrained in the country’s culture. With a rich basketball tradition, the LKL showcases top talent and passionate fans.

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Regular-season schedule: September to April
Teams in current season: 10
Defending champion: Zalgiris

Notable: Lithuania has produced legendary players like Arvydas Sabonis, who had a successful career in the NBA. Isaiah Hartenstein, a young German prospect, is making a name for himself in the LKL.

12. Chinese Basketball Association (CBA)

The Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) has become one of Asia’s premier basketball leagues. Although foreign players face limitations in their playing time, the league offers an exciting platform for players to showcase their skills.

Regular-season schedule: October to February
Teams in current season: 20
Defending champion: Sichuan Blue Whales

Notable: The CBA has attracted players like Jimmer Fredette, who has lit up the league with his scoring prowess. With its growing popularity, the CBA offers opportunities for players to make their mark.


Q: How many teams are there in the EuroLeague?
A: The EuroLeague features 16 teams in the current season.

Q: Which team has the most championships in Spain’s Liga ACB?
A: FC Barcelona and Real Madrid have combined for 51 of the 60 titles in the Liga ACB.

Q: Who is the defending champion in Italy’s Lega Basket Serie A?
A: Olimpia Milano is the defending champion of Lega Basket Serie A.


These top 12 basketball leagues outside the NBA offer a captivating and thrilling basketball experience. From the prestigious EuroLeague to the passionate Greek A1 League, each league has its unique charm and showcases outstanding talent. Whether you are a basketball enthusiast or simply looking to expand your basketball horizons, these leagues provide an exciting alternative to NBA basketball. Explore the world of basketball beyond the NBA and enjoy the beauty of the game in these top leagues.

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