NBA rosters feature 108 international players from 38 countries | Zagsblog
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Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Thursday / November 26.
  • NBA rosters feature 108 international players from 38 countries

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    The National Basketball Association (NBA) announced today that 108 international players from 38 countries and territories are on opening-night rosters for the 2019-20 season, marking the sixth consecutive season that opening-night rosters feature at least 100 international players. 

    The record for international players (113) and record for countries and territories represented (42) were set at the start of the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons, respectively. 

    This year’s 108 international players are more than four times the 24 international players on opening-night rosters for the 1994-95 season 25 years ago.  Opening-night rosters also feature a record 16 Canadian players – the most players from a non-U.S. country ever on opening-night rosters.

    The most-represented countries among the 108 international players on opening-night rosters are Canada (16 players), Australia (nine players), France (eight players), Croatia (seven players) and Serbia (six players).  Canada saw a record six players selected in the NBA Draft 2019 presented by State Farm®, surpassing the previous record for most draftees from a non-U.S. country (five) set by France in 2016. 

    The Dallas Mavericks have an NBA-high seven international players.  The Phoenix Suns and Philadelphia 76ers each have six, while the Memphis Grizzlies, Oklahoma City Thunder, San Antonio Spurs, Sacramento Kings, Toronto Raptors, Utah Jazz and Washington Wizards each have five. 

    The NBA’s 74th season begins tonight with a doubleheader on TNT as part of Kia NBA Tip-Off 2019.  In the opening game, the defending NBA Champion Toronto Raptors will host the New Orleans Pelicans at 8 p.m. ET.  In the second game, the Los Angeles Lakers will face the LA Clippers at 10:30 p.m. ET. 

    In addition to the 108 international players on 2019-20 opening-night rosters, there are a record 11 international players from eight countries on “two-way” contracts. 

    A record 30 former Basketball Without Borders (BWB) campers are on opening-night rosters, surpassing the previous record of 28 set last season.  Former BWB campers include RJ Barrett (New York Knicks; Canada; BWB Global 2017), Marc Gasol (Raptors; Spain; BWB Europe 2003) and Joel Embiid (76ers; Cameroon; BWB Africa 2011).  BWB is the NBA and FIBA’s global basketball development and community outreach program that has seen 69 former campers drafted into the NBA or signed as free agents since 2001.

    Below please find international player milestones and storylines for the upcoming season:

    • There are 11 international players on opening-night rosters who have been NBA All-Stars: Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks; Greece), Goran Dragić (Miami Heat; Slovenia), Embiid, Al Horford (76ers; Dominican Republic), Marc Gasol, Pau Gasol (Portland Trail Blazers; Spain), Kyrie Irving (Brooklyn Nets; Australia), Nikola Jokić (Denver Nuggets; Serbia), Kristaps Porzingis (Mavericks; Latvia), Ben Simmons (76ers; Australia) and Nikola Vučević (Orlando Magic; Montenegro).
    • Four of the five players who won 2018-19 Kia NBA Performance Awards were international: Antetokounmpo (Kia NBA Most Valuable Player), Luka Dončić (Kia NBA Rookie of the Year; Mavericks; Slovenia), Pascal Siakam (Kia NBA Most Improved Player; Raptors; Cameroon) and Rudy Gobert (Kia NBA Defensive Player of the Year; Jazz; France).
    • As part of the 2019-20 GM Survey, Antetokounmpo was voted the No. 1 player most likely to win the MVP (52% of votes) and the No. 1 player with whom general managers would want to start a franchise (86% of votes).  Jokić (48%) and Embiid (28%) were voted the best centers in the NBA.
    • Rui Hachimura (Wizards; Japan) and Yuta Watanabe (two-way player for the Grizzlies; Japan) are seeking to make history as the first two Japanese players to play in the NBA during the same season.
    • Bruno Fernando (Atlanta Hawks) is seeking to become the first player from Angola to play in an NBA game.
    • There are three sets of international brothers on opening-night rosters: Giannis and Thanasis Antetokounmpo (Greece); Marc and Pau Gasol (Spain); Willy and Juancho Hernangómez (Spain).

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.