Basketball has truly evolved beyond borders, as international talent in the NBA is at an all-time high. We’ve seen guys like Hakeem Olajuwon, Dirk Nowitzki, and Pau Gasol come to the NBA and prove that elite talent doesn’t just reside on American soil. Those three, along with pioneers like Yao Ming, Steve Nash, Dikembe Mutombo, and Drazen Petrovic have paved the way for many of the young stars in the NBA today. We’ve seen African native Joel Embiid draw comparisons to Olajuwon, while European Kristaps Porzingis has flashed shades of Nowitzki in his game. These legends and many others are the reason for the NBA’s spike in imported talent.
We’ve seen Giannis Antetokounmpo aka “The Greek Freak” take the league by storm in his first few seasons, and there are more future superstars on their way. The favorite for the No. 1 pick of this year’s draft is Luka Dončić, a Slovenian native who plays in Spain for Real Madrid. The No. 1 rated player in high school is Steve Nash mentee and fellow Canadian R.J. Barrett, who’ll play at Duke this fall.
The best of the international group in the NBA is under the age of 23, and the common trend of international players is that they’re the full package. In addition to their physical traits, they bring a new crop of skill and awareness that the league has yet to see. Whether it’s the passing of Nikola Jokic, a 7-foot-3 forward in Porzingis, or the freak that is Antetokounmpo, the NBA is now home to a number of skilled, positionless players, who are taking the league by storm. Without further ado, here are the ten best foreign players in the NBA today.
Note that if you were born outside of the United States but grew up in the United States, you don’t qualify for this. Therefore, Kyrie Irving, who moved to the United States at two years old, is not eligible.