Not all players who are drafted into the NBA, or sign a contract as an undrafted free agent, can stay in the league until they retire. Some players can’t adapt to the playing style or speed of the league, some players are just not with the right team, while others want to return to their country of origin. These players couldn’t (or don’t want to) make it in the NBA, and decided to play overseas.
Shane Larkin – Anadolu Efes Istanbul
This is Larkin’s second stint in the Euroleague, after previously playing for Baskonia in the 2016-2017 season. He was first drafted into the NBA back in 2013 by the Hawks, but he was immediately traded to the Dallas Mavericks. After three years and stints with the Mavericks, Knicks and Nets, Larkin went overseas to play for Baskonia, where he was named into the All-Spanish League Second Team.
Last year, Larkin returned to the NBA to play for the Boston Celtics. He had a decent season, and played 54 games in the regular season, and 11 in the post-season, but he wasn’t really able to convince. With Istanbul, Larkin is averaging 20+ minutes and about 10 points per game.
Jan Vesely – Fenerbahçe
Jan Vesely played 162 games in the US for the Washington Wizards and Denver Nuggets, but it wasn’t a very successful period for him. His first season in the league went just fine, as he averaged 20 minutes and started 20 out of the 57 games he played. Vesely was not suited for the mental game that was played in the NBA, for example his free throw percentage even fell below 30% at one point, even though he was a decent shooter.
Luckily for Vesely, he was better suited to the style of play in Europe and proved this once he signed with Fenerbahçe in 2014. Now, he’s an important part of the team and was named to the All-Euroleague team twice, as well as being named a 2-time All-Star in the Turkish League. Furthermore, he starts most games in the Euroleague, and last year Vesely hit 70% of his free throws.
Kevin Seraphin – FC Barcelona
Seraphin had quite an extensive NBA career, as he played over 400 games in the league between 2010 and 2017. He spent most of that time with the Washington Wizards, where he was also the most successful. In 2017, Seraphin was waived by the Indiana Pacers, and instead of signing with another NBA team, he decided to seek his chances elsewhere and sign with FC Barcelona overseas.
Unfortunately, Seraphin got injured in his first season with Barcelona, so he couldn’t be of great value for the team, but that’s bound to chance this year.
Rudy Fernandez – Real Madrid
Fernandez played in the NBA between 2008 and 2012, and probably could’ve prolonged his stay in the league, but he wanted to return to Europe. He was sure he would have more chances with Real Madrid, and didn’t feel anything for the fact that NBA teams could trade you at will, as everything is just business.
Since signing with Madrid, Fernandez has won the Euroleague Championship twice, the Spanish Championship four times, the Spanish King’s Cup four times, the Spanish Supercup three times, and made it into the All-Euroleague First team in 2013 and 2014.
Nate Wolters – Zalgiris Kaunas
In 2013, Wolters was drafted in the second round by the Washington Wizards, but before the season started he was already traded twice. His first stop was with the Philadelphia 76ers, but the next day, he was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks. On opening night, Wolters ended up playing 30 minutes as a rookie, as he was the only healthy rookie.
His first season was quite good, as he started 31 out of the 58 games he played throughout the season. Wolters had to miss the last 13 games as he fractured his hand. The next season, the Bucks got a new coach in Jason Kidd, and Wolters lost most of his playing time, and was waived halfway through the season. After the 2015 season, Wolters had his first stint in Europe, when he played for Besiktas and Crvena Zvezda. He returned to the NBA for a two-way contract with the Jazz, but this wasn’t very effective and he was again waived half way through the season.
This season with Zalgiris will be his second season in the Euroleague, as Crvena Zvezda also appeared in the Euroleague.