The National Basketball Association might be headquartered in the United States, but the amount of international talent that finds their way to NBA rosters has been growing slowly and surely over the past decade.
It's easy to believe that the most talented basketball players come from here in the states. Because it's partly true! And we're lucky enough to see them perform via multiple media platforms these days. But what people often forget is that the United States population only accounts for about 4% of the world population. With that statistic alone, it makes a lot of sense that the league has seen stars from all over the globe (Yao Ming, Dirk Nowitzki, Dikembe Mutumbo, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Luca Doncic, etc).
And if you don't think there are future Yaos, Dirks, Dikembes, Giannises and Lucas out there today, you're sleeping under a rock! I've been lucky enough to travel to more than 30 countries in this beautiful world of ours and watch some youth prospects play. Let me tell you, the future NBA is in for a real treat!
I was pretty curious to crunch some numbers myself, so I went back and broke down how many international players were chosen by draft picks the past several years:
2019 Picks: 17
2018 Picks: 13
2017 Picks: 15
2016 Picks: 28
2015 Picks: 18
2014 Picks: 21
2013 Picks: 20
2012 Picks: 16
Here are all the players, broken down in snapshots by each draft year:
It's important to keep in mind that each players' "international status" can be different. Some players have multiple passports. Some were born outside the USA but grew up for most of their lives in different countries. And some were born in the USA but spent a lot of their upbringing in other countries due to family living situations. So for the purpose of this research, I kept all players who had at least one passport from outside the USA on the list.
Also, if you ever see a mistake or disagree with something that I've written, let me know! Always down for a good old fashioned debate. Trust me, there's plenty of topics that I need to learn more about.
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