Opening-night NBA rosters feature a record 17 Canadians, 14 African players | 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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Monday / November 29.
  • Opening-night NBA rosters feature a record 17 Canadians, 14 African players

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    The National Basketball Association (NBA) today announced that 107 international players from 41 countries are on opening-night rosters for the 2020-21 season, including a record 17 Canadian players and a record-tying 14 African players.  This marks the seventh consecutive season that opening-night rosters feature at least 100 international players.  All 30 teams have at least one international player.

    In addition to the 107 international players on 2020-21 opening-night rosters, there are 10 international players from a record-tying eight countries on “two-way” contracts, allowing them to play in up to 50 NBA games this season.

    For the seventh consecutive year, Canada (17 players) is the most-represented country outside of the U.S., followed by France (nine players), Australia (eight players), Serbia and Germany (six players each).

    The Washington Wizards have an NBA-high seven international players.  The Dallas Mavericks and Denver Nuggets each have six, while the New Orleans Pelicans, Oklahoma City Thunder and Toronto Raptors each have five. 

    The 2020-21 NBA season begins tonight with a doubleheader on TNT as part of Kia NBA Tip-Off 2020.  The first game features the Brooklyn Nets hosting the Golden State Warriors at 7 p.m. ET.  In the second game, the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers take on the LA Clippers at 10 p.m. ET.

    A record 34 players on opening-night rosters participated in Basketball Without Borders (BWB) prior to starting their NBA careers, surpassing the previous record of 30 set in 2019-20.  Former BWB campers include Joel Embiid (Philadelphia 76ers; Cameroon; BWB Africa 2011), Jamal Murray (Nuggets; Canada; BWB Global 2015) and Pascal Siakam (Raptors; Cameroon; BWB Africa 2012).  BWB is the NBA and FIBA’s global basketball development and community outreach program that has seen 76 former campers drafted into the NBA or signed as free agents since 2001.

    In addition to the 107 international players on 2020-21 opening-night rosters, there are 10 international players from a record-tying eight countries on “two-way” contracts, allowing them to play in up to 50 NBA games this season.  There are also a number of American players with ties to other countries, including more than 30 players with at least one parent from Africa.  Among the American players with ties to other countries are Jordan Clarkson (Utah Jazz; ties to the Philippines), Victor Oladipo (Indiana Pacers; ties to Nigeria), Matisse Thybulle (76ers; ties to Australia and Haiti) and Karl-Anthony Towns (Minnesota Timberwolves; ties to the Dominican Republic).

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

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

    • A record six international players were named to the 2019-20 All-NBA Team: Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks; Greece; ties to Nigeria; All-NBA First Team); Luka Dončić (Mavericks; Slovenia; All-NBA First Team); Nikola Jokić (Nuggets; Serbia; All-NBA Second Team); Siakam (All-NBA Second Team); Rudy Gobert (Jazz; France; All-NBA Third Team); and Ben Simmons (76ers; Australia; All-NBA Third Team).
    • There are 14 international players on opening-night rosters who have been NBA All-Stars: Antetokounmpo, Dončić, Goran Dragić (Miami Heat; Slovenia), Embiid, Marc Gasol (Lakers; Spain), Gobert, Al Horford (Oklahoma City Thunder; Dominican Republic), Kyrie Irving (Nets; Australia), Jokić, Kristaps Porzingis (Mavericks; Latvia), Domantas Sabonis (Pacers; Lithuania), Siakam, Simmons and Nikola Vučević (Orlando Magic; Montenegro).
    • As part of the 2020-2021 GM Survey, Antetokounmpo and Dončić were voted the No. 1 and No. 2 players most likely to win 2020-21 Kia NBA Most Valuable Player (32% and 21% of votes, respectively), and tied for the No. 1 player with whom general managers would most want to start a franchise (43% of votes each).  For the second straight season, Jokić was voted the best center in the NBA (50% of votes).
    • Deni Avdija, who became the highest-drafted Israeli player ever when he was selected ninth overall by the Washington Wizards in the NBA Draft 2020 presented by State Farm®, is scheduled to make his regular-season debut when the Wizards visit the 76ers on Wednesday, Dec. 23 at 7 p.m. ET on NBA League Pass.
    • Killian Hayes, who became the highest-drafted French player ever when he was selected seventh overall by the Detroit Pistons, is scheduled to make his regular-season debut when the Pistons visit the Timberwolves on Dec. 23 at 8 p.m. ET on NBA League Pass.
    • Nine players from or with at least one parent from Nigeria were selected in NBA Draft 2020, including Precious Achiuwa (Heat; Nigeria) and Udoka Azubuike (Jazz; Nigeria).
    Below please find the full list of international players on 2020-21 opening-night rosters

    (active and inactive):

    CountryNameTeamTies to Other Countries**
    AngolaBruno FernandoAtlanta Hawks 
    ArgentinaFacundo Campazzo*Denver Nuggets 
    AustraliaAron BaynesToronto Raptors 
    AustraliaMatthew DellavedovaCleveland Cavaliers 
    AustraliaDanté ExumCleveland Cavaliers 
    AustraliaJosh GreenDallas Mavericks 
    AustraliaJoe InglesUtah Jazz 
    AustraliaKyrie IrvingBrooklyn Nets 
    AustraliaPatty MillsSan Antonio Spurs 
    AustraliaBen SimmonsPhiladelphia 76ers 
    AustriaJakob PoeltlSan Antonio Spurs 
    BahamasBuddy HieldSacramento Kings 
    BahamasDeandre Ayton*Phoenix SunsNigeria
    Bosnia and HerzegovinaJusuf NurkićPortland Trail Blazers 
    BrazilBruno Caboclo*Houston Rockets 
    BrazilCristiano FelicioChicago Bulls 
    BrazilRaul NetoWashington Wizards 
    CameroonJoel Embiid*Philadelphia 76ers 
    CameroonPascal Siakam*Toronto Raptors 
    CanadaNickeil Alexander-WalkerNew Orleans Pelicans 
    CanadaRJ Barrett*New York Knicks 
    CanadaKhem BirchOrlando Magic 
    CanadaIgnas Brazdeikis*New York KnicksLithuania
    CanadaDillon BrooksMemphis Grizzlies 
    CanadaBrandon ClarkeMemphis Grizzlies 
    CanadaLuguentz Dort*Oklahoma City Thunder 
    CanadaCory JosephSacramento KingsTrinidad and Tobago
    CanadaMfiondu KabengeleLA ClippersDemocratic Republic of the Congo
    CanadaTrey LylesSan Antonio Spurs 
    CanadaMychal MulderGolden State Warriors 
    CanadaJamal Murray*Denver Nuggets 
    CanadaKelly Olynyk*Miami Heat 
    CanadaDwight PowellDallas Mavericks 
    CanadaTristan ThompsonBoston CelticsJamaica
    CanadaAndrew WigginsGolden State Warriors 
    CanadaShai Gilgeous-Alexander*Oklahoma City Thunder 
    CroatiaBojan BogdanovićUtah Jazz 
    CroatiaLuka Šamanić*San Antonio Spurs 
    CroatiaDario Šarić*Phoenix Suns 
    CroatiaIvica ZubacLA Clippers 
    Czech RepublicTomáš Satoranský*Chicago Bulls 
    Democratic Republic of the CongoBismack BiyomboCharlotte Hornets 
    Dominican RepublicAl HorfordOklahoma City Thunder 
    EgyptAbdel NaderPhoenix Suns 
    FinlandLauri Markkanen*Chicago Bulls 
    FranceNicolas Batum*LA ClippersCameroon
    FranceSekou Doumbouya*Detroit PistonsGuinea
    FranceEvan FournierOrlando MagicAlgeria
    FranceRudy GobertUtah Jazz 
    FranceKillian Hayes*Detroit Pistons 
    FranceTimothé Luwawu-CabarrotBrooklyn NetsDemocratic Republic of the Congo
    FranceThéo MaledonOklahoma City Thunder 
    FranceFrank Ntilikina*New York Knicks 
    FranceVincent PoirierPhiladelphia 76ers 
    GabonChris SilvaMiami Heat 
    GeorgiaGoga Bitadze*Indiana Pacers 
    GermanyIsaac Bonga*Washington Wizards 
    GermanyIsaiah Hartenstein*Denver Nuggets 
    GermanyMaxi KleberDallas Mavericks 
    GermanyDennis SchröderLos Angeles LakersThe Gambia
    GermanyDaniel TheisBoston Celtics 
    GermanyMoritz WagnerWashington Wizards 
    GreeceGiannis AntetokounmpoMilwaukee BucksNigeria
    GreeceThanasis AntetokounmpoMilwaukee BucksNigeria
    IsraelDeni Avdija*Washington Wizards 
    ItalyDanilo Gallinari*Atlanta Hawks 
    ItalyNicolò MelliNew Orleans Pelicans 
    JamaicaNick RichardsCharlotte Hornets 
    JapanRui Hachimura*Washington WizardsBenin
    LatviaDavis BertansWashington Wizards 
    LatviaAnžejs Pasečņiks*Washington Wizards 
    LatviaKristaps PorziņģisDallas Mavericks 
    LatviaRodions KurucsBrooklyn Nets 
    LithuaniaDomantas SabonisIndiana Pacers 
    LithuaniaDeividas Sirvydis*Detroit Pistons 
    LithuaniaJonas Valančiūnas*Memphis Grizzlies 
    MontenegroNikola VučevićOrlando Magic 
    New ZealandSteven AdamsNew Orleans Pelicans 
    NigeriaPrecious AchiuwaMiami Heat 
    NigeriaUdoka AzubuikeUtah Jazz 
    NigeriaJosh OkogieMinnesota Timberwolves 
    Republic of the CongoSerge IbakaLA ClippersSpain
    SenegalGorgui Dieng*Memphis Grizzlies 
    SerbiaNemanja BjelicaSacramento Kings 
    SerbiaBogdan BogdanovićAtlanta Hawks 
    SerbiaNikola JokićDenver Nuggets 
    SerbiaBoban MarjanovićDallas Mavericks 
    SerbiaAleksej Pokuševski*Oklahoma City Thunder 
    SerbiaAlen SmailagićGolden State Warriors 
    SloveniaVlatko Čančar Denver Nuggets 
    SloveniaGoran DragićMiami Heat 
    SloveniaLuka DončićDallas Mavericks 
    South SudanThon Maker*Cleveland CavaliersAustralia and Uganda
    South SudanWenyen GabrielNew Orleans Pelicans 
    SudanBol BolDenver Nuggets 
    SpainMarc Gasol*Los Angeles Lakers 
    SpainJuancho HernangómezMinnesota Timberwolves 
    SpainWilly Hernangómez*New Orleans Pelicans 
    SpainRicky RubioMinnesota Timberwolves 
    St. LuciaChris BoucherToronto RaptorsCanada
    SwitzerlandClint CapelaAtlanta HawksAngola and Republic of the Congo
    TurkeyEnes Kanter*Portland Trail Blazers 
    TurkeyFurkan KorkmazPhiladelphia 76ers 
    TurkeyCedi OsmanCleveland Cavaliers 
    UkraineAlex LenToronto Raptors 
    UkraineSvi MykhailiukDetroit Pistons 
    United KingdomOG AnunobyToronto RaptorsNigeria

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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.