International Players Dominate NBA Draft
Sixteen international players were among the first 30 picks in the 2016 NBA draft Thursday, which set a record for the most foreign-born prospects selected in the first round. The previous record was 12, which was set in 2013. Elias research reports that’s the lowest total of American-born, first-round picks in an NBA draft since 1973. In that year’s first round, 16 of the 18 players were born in the USA.
Six of those 16 did go to college in the United States so they were not completely unknown, but we had college players who I’m sure were mouthing “Who is that?” when names were called from overseas. Three guys (Skal Labissiere, Dejounte Murray and Deyonta Davis) fell way below their projected pick range as a result.
The same trend applies to college players taken. Six college players taken in the first round were born outside the United States: Ben Simmons, Jamal Murray, Buddy Hield, Jakob Poeltl, Pascal Siakam and Skal Labissiere.
The 2016 NBA Draft reached fans in 215 countries and territories. There were 100 international players from 37 countries and territories on 2015-16 opening night NBA rosters, marking the second consecutive year that opening night rosters featured at least 100 international players. For the second consecutive year, all 30 NBA teams featured at least one international player on 2015-16 opening night NBA rosters.
The gap between the U.S. and other individual countries is still pretty big, but when looking at the gap between the U.S. and the international scene as a whole, the gap is closing with more and more NBA level talent emerging from a variety of countries. It’s great to see the NBA have such a burgeoning international influence which not only helps the leagues popularity, but also gives teams other sources to find impact players that can make a difference for their respective rosters.
Teams own the rights to international players they draft, and can leave them overseas to develop with current teams (leaving them off their payroll). If you declare for the NBA Draft as an underclassman, you better be sure that you are much better than everyone else not just in college, but across the world. It may be beneficial to hire an agent from a firm with international scouting capabilities.