Are international players setting a new trend in the NBA draft?

Updated: June 28, 2016
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The 2016 NBA Draft made history with 26 of the 60 players selected being international. Why is that?

There may be a new trend becoming the norm in the NBA. In a history-making 2016 draft, 26 of the 60 draftees were born outside the United States. Obviously, the most popular name in this year’s draft class is new Philadelphia 76ers rookie Ben Simmons.

Although he attended Louisiana State University, he was born in Australia. Simmons became the third foreign-born prospect to be a No. 1 draft pick in the last four years (Andrew Wiggins in 2014, Anthony Bennett in 2013).

The questions and concerns have began to rise. After the first round of this year’s draft was completed — 15 of the first 30 picks were international. But why are there so many foreign players being taken? Especially since many of them don’t make the jump to the NBA for at least two-to-three years — if ever. “Draft and stash” has become a commonly, and overused phrase.

In a recent radio interview with NBA contributor, NCAA analyst and KFBK AM sports anchor Bill Herenda, alongside co-host Brice Vance, we posed a few questions that many desire answers to. You can listen to the interview in its entirety here:



There’s only one thing that bothers me personally: What makes these international players more “NBA ready” than the pool of college prospects? The one-and-done argument cannot be used in this situation, because the majority of foreign players are between the same age range of 18 and 20. In some cases, even younger. Bill, again, gave me an answer that makes a lot of sense:

“Many have solid fundamentals. Can shoot it and pass it with stretch-4 or multiple position-type games — offensively and defensively. Which all are coveted qualities in today’s NBA.”

It was the conclusion of his answer that had me in deep thought. It’s evident that the NBA is changing. With prototypical big men slowly becoming distinct, small-ball has evolved into the new style of play. We have seen this used for the past two seasons with the Golden State Warriors. They’ve obviously been quite successful using Draymond Green (who’s a skilled, 6-foot-7 big man) at center from time to time. Teams have noticed it, and it’s become the new blueprint.

International players fit perfectly with what today’s NBA consists of. Not saying college players don’t, but the majority of them are often criticized about their shooting ability.

No longer is it a question of, “who’s the best player available?” Now it’s all based on how they project in the new NBA.

This may seem like a complaining customer — which it surely isn’t. But there is one concern that remains: How many of these international players actually pan out in the NBA? In fact, it’s a rather short list that have even produced at All-Star levels. Dirk Nowitzki, Pau and Marc Gasol, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Steve Nash are some of the few that’s lived up to their expectations.

But whether we agree with it or not, it’s the new age of this sport. It’s something that we’ll have to get accustomed to seeing. Ratings are better than ever, and fans are growing across the globe.


DC Hendrix

DC Hendrix

Report for Sideline Sports Report. Producer/Host for ESPN 1380 in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

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