There tends to be a cultural shift when German athletes come and play professional sports in the United States. Having been born in Germany, I understand the differences between European and American sports culture. In Deutschland, soccer is king with ice hockey and basketball gaining popularity. What makes this list special is that it shows that a country with limited resources in certain sports such as American football and baseball can still produce professional talent.
While the NFL and MLB don’t have many German players to choose from, the NHL and NBA certainly have an impressive list to make up for it.
TOP GERMAN ATHLETES PLAYING IN THE US’S BIG 4
David Bada – dline – Washington football team
The 6’4 293lb Munich native is the only German national currently playing in the NFL. He is a defensive tackle for the Washington Football Team. There isn’t a whole lot to say about Bada as he only has one year of NFL experience under his belt and has yet to touch the field.
Max Kepler – rightfielder – Minnesota Twins
The Berlin native is the only German athlete in Major League Baseball and his path is anything but ordinary. He grew up in Berlin playing in German leagues until he was noticed by an MLB scout when he was 14. He was later signed by the Minnesota Twins after his 16th birthday. After years of working his way up through the MLB system, he made his MLB debut in 2015. He has had a promising career over the past six years, the best of which was his 2019 season where he finished 20th in the MLB MVP voting.
Leon Draisaitl – center – Edmonton oilers
Born in Koln, or as Americans say it Cologne, Leon is the top German player in the NHL. He grew up playing in the German Development League before being signed to the WHL in Canada. In 2014, he was drafted by the Edmonton Oilers 3rd overall, where he has played the entirety of his career.
During his time as an Edmonton Oiler, Draisaitl has played in a total of 512 games tallying 225 goals and 334 assists over the course of eight seasons. Draisaitl is clearly the best professional German athlete playing in the United States when you compared the numbers.
As an NHL player, he has won numerous awards such as the Art Ross Trophy (2020), Ted Lindsay Award (2020), and the Hart Memorial Trophy (2020). Draisaitl has been named an All-Star twice in his career (2019,2020). In 2020, he capped off his incredible hockey year becoming the German Sportsperson of the Year, a high honor in Germany.
Tim Stützle – Forward – Ottawa Senators – NHL Stats: 53 games, 29 points.
Nico Sturm – Center – Minnesota Wild – NHL Stats: 58 games, 19 points.
Moritz Seider – Defense – Detroit Red Wings – NHL Stats: 31 games, 21 points.
Philipp Grubauer – Goalie – Seattle Kraken – NHL Stats: 214 games, .92 Save%, 2.34 GAA
Thomas Greiss. Goalie – Detroit Red Wings – NHL Stats: 316 games, .91 Save%, 2.63 GAA
Dennis Schroder – Poing Guard – Boston celtics
Born in Braunschweig, Dennis began playing professional basketball at the age of 17. After three years in the BBL, he was drafted into the NBA as the 17th overall pick in 2013. There are not many German born athletes that get selected in the first round of the NBA draft. Since entering the NBA, Schroder has played for the Hawks, Thunder, Lakers, and most recently for the Boston Celtics. Through eight seasons he has played in 557 games averaging 26 minutes, 14 points, and nearly 5 assists.
Franz Wagner – Orlando Magic – NBA Stats: 41 games, 15.7 PPG, 2.6 APG
Moritz Wagner – Orlando Magic – NBA Stats: 164 games, 6.8 PPG, 3.2 REB
Daniel Theis – Houston Rockets – NBA Stats: 283 games, 7.6 PPG, 5.0 REB
Maxi Kleber – Dallas Mavericks – NBA Stats: 292 games, 7.2 PPG, 4.7 REB
Isaiah Hartenstein – LA Clippers – NBA Stats: 126 games, 4.9 PPG, 3.6 REB
Isaac Bonga – Washington Wizards – NBA Stats: 140 games, 3.1 PPG, 2.3 REB