NBA rosters are comprised of more international players than ever. Roughly one-quarter of the league’s roster spots are now filled by foreign-born players
If you were somehow not already aware, NBA basketball is a global game. Last year’s MVP and Rookie of the Year were both from European countries. Rookie Rui Hachimura has dozens of Japanese reporters following him around as if he personally is the Beatles. With one tweet, Daryl Morey started a blood feud with China that may have long-term salary cap implications.
The presence of international players on NBA rosters seems more apparent than ever. That got me thinking, what percentage of the league’s players is international? To answer that, I took a cursory look at every NBA roster to get a sense of how much of their team were citizens of countries other than the United States.
Certain players are listed as dual citizens, which made this a bit tricky. For the sake of simplicity, if a player would be ineligible to play for Team USA due to their affiliation with another national team then I counted them as international. For each team, I listed how many international players are on the roster, which players, and which country (or countries for the dual citizens) they call home.
More from Sir Charles In Charge
- NBA: 5 players taking a ‘leap’ in their game at the quarter-mark of the season
- Los Angeles Lakers: Why it’s time to trade Kyle Kuzma
- Height or Heart? Trae Young is proving the doubters wrong one step at a time
- NBA: 3 top teams who are merely pretenders
- Through the first quarter of the season, the Miami Heat are flying high
An NBA team can have 15 players on the roster, with 13 deemed active for each game, and two Two-Way contracts. Dallas has the most international players at seven, which is not too surprising, as Dallas is traditionally thought of that way because of Dirk’s presence for so many years.
Five teams have six international players on their roster: Grizzlies, Thunder, Suns, Spurs, and Raptors. Another eight teams have five international players: Celtics, Cavaliers, Nuggets, 76ers, Trail Blazers, Kings, Jazz, and Wizards. All five of Denver’s international players were drafted directly by the Nuggets, which is an indication that they have made international scouting a priority.
Essentially, half of the league’s teams have filled out around a third of their rosters with players born outside of the United States. Conversely, the Warriors and Lakers had the least representation with one each.
Again, for the sake of simplicity, if we say each team has 17 total players and there are 30 teams, that’s 510 NBA spots. By my count here, 123 international players are currently on rosters, which would make up roughly one-quarter of the league. Nineteen of those players are Canadian, the most of any nation.
- Atlanta Hawks (2): Bruno Fernando (Angola), Alex Len (Ukraine)
- Boston Celtics (5): Enes Kanter (Turkey), Vincent Poirier (France), Daniel Theis (Germany), Tacko Fall (Senegal), Javonte Green (Montenegro)
- Brooklyn Nets (3): Rodions Kurucs (Latvia), Timothy Luwawu-Cabarrot (France), Dzanan Musa (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
- Charlotte Hornets (3): Nicholas Batum (France), Bismack Biyombo (Congo), Willy Hernangomez (Spain)
- Chicago Bulls (4): Cristiano Felicio (Brazil), Lauri Markkanen (Finland), Adam Mokoka (France), Tomas Satoransky (Czech Republic)
- Cleveland Cavaliers (5): Jordan Clarkson (Philippines), Matthew Dellavedova (Australia), Cedi Osman (Turkey), Tristan Thompson (Canada), Ante Zizic (Croatia)
- Dallas Mavericks (7): J.J. Barea (Puerto Rico), Ryan Broekhoff (Australia), Luka Doncic (Slovenia), Maxi Kleber (Germany), Boban Marjanovic (Serbia), Kristraps Porzingis (Latvia), Dwight Powell (Canada)
- Denver Nuggets (5): Bol Bol (Sudan), Vlatko Cancar (Slovenia), Juan Hernangomez (Spain), Nikola Jokic (Serbia), Jamal Murray (Canada)
- Detroit Pistons (3): Sekou Doumbouya (France), Thon Maker (Sudan/Australia), Svi Mykhailiuk (Ukraine)
- Golden State Warriors (1): Alen Smailagic (Serbia)
- Houston Rockets (4): Clint Capela (Switzerland), Isaiah Hartenstein (Germany), Nene (Brazil), Thabo Sefolosha (Switzerland)
- Indiana Pacers (4): Goga Bitadze (Georgia), TJ Leaf (Israel/US), Naz Mitrou-Long (Canada/Greece), Domantas Sabonis (Lithuania)
- LA Clippers (2): Mfiondu Kabengele (Canada), Ivica Zubac (Croatia)
- LA Lakers (1): Kostas Antetokounmpo (Greece)
- Memphis Grizzlies (6): Dillon Brooks (Canada), Bruno Caboclo (Brazil), Brandon Clarke (Canada), Marko Guduric (Serbia), Jonas Valanciunas (Lithuania), Yuta Watanbe (Japan)
- Miami Heat (3): Goran Dragic (Slovenia), Chris Silva (Gabon), Kelly Olynyk (Canada)
- Milwaukee Bucks (4): Giannis Antetokounmpo (Greece), Thanasis Antetokounmpo (Greece), Dragan Bender (Croatia), Ersan Ilyasova (Turkey)
- Minnesota Timberwolves (4): Gorgui Dieng (Senegal), Josh Okogie (Nigeria), Karl-Anthony Towns (Dominican), Andrew Wiggins (Canada)
- New Orleans Pelicans (2): Nickeil Alexander-Walker (Canada), Nicolo Melli (Italy)
- New York Knicks (3): Frank Ntilikina (France), RJ Barrett (Canada), Ignas Brazdeikis (Lithuania/Canada)
- Oklahoma City Thunder (6): Steven Adams (New Zealand), Luguentz Dort (Canada), Danilo Gallinari (Italy), Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Canada), Abdel Nader (Egypt), Dennis Schroder (Germany)
- Orlando Magic (4): Al-Farouq Aminu (Nigeria), Khem Birch (Canada), Evan Fournier (France), Nikola Vucevic (Montenegro)
- Philadelphia 76ers (5): Furkan Korkmaz (Turkey), Raul Neto (Brazil), Joel Embiid (Cameroon), Marial Shayok (Canada), Jonah Bolden (Australia)
- Phoenix Suns (6): Deandre Ayton (Bahamas), Aron Baynes (Australia), Elie Okobo (France), Ricky Rubio (Spain), Dario Saric (Croatia), Cheick Diallo (Mali)
- Portland Trail Blazers (5): Pau Gasol (Spain), Mario Hezonja (Croatia), Jusuf Nurkic (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Jaylen Hoard (France), Skal Labissiere (Haiti)
- Sacramento Kings (5): Nemanja Bjelica (Serbia), Bogdan Bogdanovic (Serbia), Wenyen Gabriel (Sudan), Buddy Hield (Bahamas), Cory Joseph (Canada)
- San Antonio Spurs (6): Marco Belinelli (Italy), Trey Lyles (Canada), Chimezie Metu (Nigeria), Patty Mills (Australia), Jakob Poeltl (Austria), Luka Samanic (Croatia)
- Toronto Raptors (6): OG Anunoby (England), Pascal Siakam (Cameroon), Chris Boucher (Canadian), Oshae Brissett (Canada), Marc Gasol (Spain), Serge Ibaka (Congo/Spain)
- Utah Jazz (5): Bojan Bogdanovic (Croatia), Dante Exum (Australia), Joe Ingles (Australia), Rudy Gobert (France), Emmanuel Mudiay (Congo)
- Washington Wizards (5): Davis Bertans (Latvia), Isaac Bonga (Germany), Rui Hachimura (Japan), Ian Mahinmi (France), Moritz Wagner (Germany)
As you can see, the NBA indeed has greater international make-up than ever before. It’s time we embrace this recent movement.