The sport of basketball was designed by Dr. James Naismith as a college gym class substitute. It has grown to become an international catalyst in the sports world, and it has evolved to impact citizens and athletes on a global level. The NBA, the highest level of basketball, has a vast history of international players making a difference. While not every player pans out, sone players have risen to the top of the NBA talent pool.
Over the last 10 years, plenty of talented international players have entered the NBA and showcased their talents. Here are the top five international players over the last ten years to play in the NBA. Before I unveil my rankings, I want to state that I eliminated any international player that played in the NCAA. This would rule out players such as Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons.
5. Clint Capela (2014)
Clint Capela comes from Geneva, Switzerland, and the 6’10” center has grown into a powerful force in the NBA. Capela didn’t do much his first season, but he has continued to grow and develop with the Rockets. Over the last three seasons, Capela is averaging a double-double. During his best season (2018-2019), Capela averaged 16.6 PPG and 12.7 RPG. He did a great job gathering rebounds in the Rockets’ system, but he was traded this year when the Rockets decided to go with a “small-ball system.”
4. Kristaps Porziņģis (2015)
Porziņģis comes from Liepaja, Latvia, and despite the fact he was unwelcome at first from the Knicks’ fan base, he has blossomed into a talented young player. Porziņģis is a 7’3” forward, yet he plays a role that doesn’t reflect his height. He is a shooter and a scorer, and his shooting ability has tremendous range. His career averages of 18.1 PPG and 7.6 RPG reflect his abilities as a rebounder and scorer. Porziņģis was traded to the Mavericks in a bizarre trade, and it will be interesting to see how he fares in Dallas.
3. Nikola Jokić (2014)
Jokić comes from Sombor, Serbia, and he truly is multi-talented. Jokić posses the unique ability to rebound, score, and pass at extremely high levels. He was a second-round selection; however, he has exploded to first-round talent. The 7’ center continues to be the focal point of the Nuggets, and he improves his skillset every season. Last season, he averaged 20.1 PPG and 10.8 RPG, and he will continue to be the catalyst of the Nuggets’ franchise.
2. Giannis Antetokounmpo (2013)
Antetokounmpo comes from Athens, Greece, and the 15th overall pick is now easily a top-five NBA talent. He is a ferocious and tenacious scorer, and he makes a living by dunking and attacking the rim. Antetokounmpo isn’t a tremendous shooter, but he is a talented rebounder and a physical defender. He’s definitely a rare breed, and the NBA is still trying to figure out how to eliminate his talents. His career averages of 20 PPG AND 8.9 RPG showcase his ability on both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor.
1. Luka Dončić (2018)
Dončić comes from Ljubljana, Slovenia, and he has quickly become a young superstar. Dončić has developed his skillset in many European leagues, and playing in international leagues has prepared him for the NBA. He averaged 21.2 PPG, 7.8 RPG, and 6 APG in his rookie year, and he easily secured ROTY honors. He’s young, charismatic, and easily a fan-favorite. Dončić narrowly edges out Antetokounmpo due to his age and the fact that Dončić emerged more quickly to superstar status.