NBA Teams Should Pass on International Players

Movie Quote of the Day:

“Mankind was born Earth. It was never meant to die here.”

– Cooper, Interstellar (2014)


The New York Knicks (Kristaps Porzingas above) and Orlando Magic were two teams to select international players in the lottery picks (picks 1-14) of the NBA Draft last night.

My definition of a “true” international player is someone who wasn’t born in the United States (obviously) and didn’t play high school or college basketball in the USA. I also don’t count any players from Canada.

Since 1998, there have been 24 “true” international players that were drafted within the lottery picks. Of those 24, only three players went on to have successful careers in the NBA and become multiple time All-Stars (Dirk Nowitzki, Pau Gasol, and Yao Ming).

I’m not saying that international players can’t play. I’m just saying that if I’m a general manager for a NBA team, I’m not taking the 12.5 percent chance that an international player will live up to the hype. I’ll take the next best American on the draft board every day and twice on Sunday.

I’m biased towards American athletes because the USA is the best in the world at creating athletes. There’s a reason why all of these international players want to play in our professional sports leagues, because we’re the best.

I agreed with what Colin Cowherd said prior to the draft regarding international players. He said that scouts tend to be more critical of American athletes because we’ve had more access to them and can be too critical, which weakens their draft status.

I completely agree with that statement and that’s why international players seem so appealing to these NBA teams. They’re new and scouts aren’t used to watching them. This means that the scouts aren’t as critical toward them because they haven’t had the same access as the American players. However, the track record of international players is very poor and NBA teams need to pass on them.


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