NBA rosters feature 109 international players, including 18 Canadians | 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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Saturday / December 4.
  • NBA rosters feature 109 international players, including 18 Canadians

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    The National Basketball Association (NBA) announced that 109 international players from 39 countries are on opening-night rosters for its landmark 75th Anniversary Season, including a record number of players from Canada (18), Germany (seven) and the Bahamas (three), and a record-tying number of players from Nigeria (five).  The Toronto Raptors lead the league with a record-tying 10 international players from a record nine countries on opening-night rosters.

    The 2021-22 season tipping off tonight marks the eighth consecutive season that opening-night rosters feature at least 100 international players.  The number of international players in the NBA has grown from five in the league’s first season in 1946-47 to a record 113 at the start of the 2016-17 season.

    For the eighth consecutive year, Canada is the most-represented country outside of the U.S., followed by Australia, France and Germany (seven players each).  Nigeria, Serbia, Spain and Turkey each have five players. 

    The Raptors lead the league with 10 international players, followed by the Dallas Mavericks and Oklahoma City Thunder with seven international players each.  The Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Denver Nuggets and New Orleans Pelicans each have five.

    A record 35 players on opening-night rosters participated in Basketball Without Borders (BWB) prior to their NBA careers, including Joel Embiid (Philadelphia 76ers; Cameroon; BWB Africa 2011), Deandre Ayton (Phoenix Suns; Bahamas; BWB Global 2016), Rui Hachimura (Washington Wizards; Japan; BWB Global 2016) 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 90 former campers drafted into the NBA or signed as free agents since 2001.

    In addition to the 109 international players on 2021-22 opening-night rosters, there are a record 12 international players from seven countries on “two-way” contracts, including six players who participated in BWB.  There are also a number of American players with ties to other countries, including more than 30 players with at least one parent from an African country.  Among the American players with ties to other countries are Bam Adebayo (Miami Heat; ties to Nigeria), Jordan Clarkson (Utah Jazz; ties to the Philippines), Matisse Thybulle (76ers; ties to Australia and Haiti), Juan Toscano-Anderson (Golden State Warriors; ties to Mexico), Karl-Anthony Towns (Minnesota Timberwolves; ties to the Dominican Republic) and Kemba Walker (New York Knicks; ties to Antigua).

    Below are the 18 Canadians on NBA rosters:

    CanadaAndrew WigginsGolden State Warriors 
    CanadaBrandon ClarkeMemphis Grizzlies 
    CanadaCory JosephDetroit PistonsTies to Trinidad and Tobago
    CanadaDalano BantonToronto Raptors 
    CanadaDillon BrooksMemphis Grizzlies 
    CanadaDwight PowellDallas Mavericks 
    CanadaJamal Murray*Denver Nuggets 
    CanadaJosh Primo*San Antonio Spurs 
    CanadaKelly Olynyk*Detroit Pistons 
    CanadaKevin PangosCleveland Cavaliers 
    CanadaKhem BirchToronto Raptors 
    CanadaLuguentz Dort*Oklahoma City Thunder 
    CanadaNickeil Alexander-WalkerNew Orleans Pelicans 
    CanadaOshae BrissettIndiana Pacers 
    CanadaRJ Barrett*New York Knicks 
    CanadaTrey LylesDetroit Pistons 
    CanadaTristan ThompsonSacramento KingsTies to Jamaica
    CanadaShai Gilgeous-Alexander*Oklahoma City Thunder 


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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.