Top 10 Best International NBA Players in the U.S
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The NBA was founded after other sports leagues (in 1946), and it took decades to catch up to older competitors in baseball and football.
It was the first tournament to expand its all-star game into a three-day action-packed weekend, as well as the first to rely heavily on sales revenue.
The NBA was also the first organization to actively train its top players to become global media celebrities, which increased the league's international popularity. They have infiltrated every continent with a population.
The NBA has become a more internationally diverse league than it has ever been in its history. In this article, KnowInsiders will rank the best current NBA players who are not from the United States. Without further ado, here is my top ten list of NBA players born outside of the United States.
1. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Greece
Giannis Antetokounmpo is only 25 years old and is a two-time MVP and the reigning Defensive Player of the Year. He hasn't even reached his prime, technically speaking.
During the regular season, the player, who is better described as a "unstoppable force," moved through any defense set up against him with ease while also shutting down the best defense in the NBA.
Giannis Antetokounmpo has the potential to be one of the greatest basketball players of all time. But, in order for that to happen, the Greek Freak must achieve postseason success, whether with the Milwaukee Bucks or another NA franchise.
2. Luka Doncic, Slovenia
Doncic has already established himself as one of the league's top players in his second season in the NBA. Luka was named a starter in his first All-Star game this year after averaging 28.7 points and 8.7 assists per game at the age of 20. Following the retirement of Dirk Nowitzki, the Mavericks were quick to replace him with another overseas phenom. He can't even legally buy a drink in the US yet, but he's certainly old enough to be serving buckets against the best in the world.
It goes without saying, but Luka Doncic is a special talent with a chance to enter GOAT discussions down the road thanks to his incredible combination of scoring, playmaking, and rebounding from the lead-guard position at his size. Doncic has already won nearly everything on the international stage. He hasn't been able to replicate that success in the NBA, but that's largely due to his lack of access to top talent in Dallas.
3. Joel Embiid, Cameroon
According to rumors, Joel Embiid is applying to join the French national team, and he and Gobert will be a huge problem for any other teams by that time.
Embiid had an MVP-caliber season, averaging 30.6 points, 11.7 rebounds, and 4.2 assists per game and leading the team to the second round of the playoffs.
Despite his late start in basketball, Embiid was drafted third overall by the 76ers in the 2014 NBA draft due to his talent. He has gradually risen to become one of the league's top five players. With the additions of PJ Tucker and De'Anthony Melton, as well as the resigning of James Harden, the 76ers are fully loaded for a possible championship run next season.
4. Nikola Jokic, Serbia
Nikola Jokic spent three years playing professional basketball in his home country of Serbia before declaring for the NBA draft. In the 2014 NBA draft, he was chosen 41st overall by the Denver Nuggets. Jokic's game has gradually improved over the years, and he has evolved into one of the big men with an incredibly high basketball IQ. His understanding of the game, particularly how he runs the offense, is astounding.
The Serbian produced an MVP-worthy performance in the 2020-21 season and was duly rewarded for it. Unfortunately, his season was cut short by his ejection in Game 4 of the Western Conference semi-finals against the Phoenix Suns. Regardless, the 2021 MVP will try to lead the team to another playoff run in the absence of the team's second-leading scorer, Jamal Murray.
5. Andrew Wiggins, Canada
Andrew Wiggins is a 28-year-old Canadian professional basketball player who currently plays for the Golden State Warriors in the NBA as a Small Forward or Shooting Guard. The Minnesota Timberwolves selected him first overall in the 2014 NBA Draft. His current salary with the Warriors for the 2022-23 NBA season is $33,616,770.
Andrew Wiggins, a former All-Star, is from Canada. In 31.9 minutes per game, he averaged 17.2 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 0.7 blocks, and 1.0 steals in 2021-22. His PER was 15.04 points.
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6. Rudy Gobert, France
Rudy is one of the best defensive anchors in game history. Through nine seasons in the league, the French national has led the league in blocks and rebounds and has won three Defensive Players of the Year awards (tied for second all-time). He was traded to the Timberwolves during the 2022 offseason to pair with fellow big man Karl Anthony-Towns. To say the least, an intriguing pairing!
This guy isn't called "The Stifle Tower" for nothing. Over the last few years, Gobert has been the league's most dominant shot-blocker. With the exception of his rookie year, Gobert has averaged more than 2.0 blocks in each of his NBA seasons. He is a two-time Defensive Player of the Year, a three-time All-Defensive Team selection, and this season he made his first All-Star appearance.
7. Pascal Siakam, Cameroon
The 2021-22 season marked Pascal Siakam's first without Kawhi Leonard and Kyle Lowry, making him the Toronto Raptors' No. 1 option. In the first round of the 2016 NBA draft, Toronto selected Siakam with the 27th overall pick.
Siakam demonstrated his leadership in multiple aspects of the game with more freedom to handle the ball. Siakam made the All-NBA Third Team after averaging 22.8 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 5.3 assists and leading the Raptors to the playoffs after a rough start to the season.
Making the playoffs with a new roster of rookies and veterans, as well as numerous injuries throughout the season, was a challenge for anyone. The Raptors are built differently, with so many athletic and long wings, which appears to be the basketball trend of the future.
8. Ben Simmons, Australia
With the size of some centers and the athleticism of a swingman, but with the ball-handling and vision required to play point guard at a high level, Ben Simmons is a freakish talent at lead guard. He's also a fantastic defender thanks to his hard work and excellent physical tools. He did, however, miss an entire season of basketball, leaving us with little idea of how he'll look when he returns. Will he start shooting the ball again? Will he take on a more off-the-field role? In terms of talent, he has the potential to rocket up these rankings.
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9. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Canada
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was always regarded as a talented young prospect, but he blossomed last season with the OKC Thunder, averaging nearly 20 points per game. His performances were spectacular to watch, and he and teammate Dennis Schrodder did fantastic things together last season.
Despite his early accomplishments, the 22-year-old could have a lot more to offer in the future.
10. Domantas Sabonis, Lithuania
In exchange for Paul George, the Pacers received Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis in 2017. Most people consider Oladipo to be the Pacers' crown jewel in that trade. Sabonis, on the other hand, has been a standout for Indiana. Sabonis was named to his first All-Star Game this season after averaging 18.5 points and 12.4 rebounds per game to help lead the Pacers to a second consecutive playoff appearance. Domantas would be well on his way to surpassing his father, Hall of Famer Arvydas Sabonis, if he maintains this level of production.
Questions have been raised about how Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner will fit in on the frontcourt, and the Lithuanian has allayed all fears. He had his second consecutive double-double season, with career highs in points (20.3) and assists (6.7).
Given Sabonis' progression over the years, including two All-Star appearances, I believe the Indiana Pacers will compete in the postseason for the first time since their first-round elimination in the 2020 playoffs.
Above is the top 10 best international players in NBA today. The NBA may only have teams from the United States and Canada, but the list of international players in the league could not be more diverse. International players make up some of the league's best active players.
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