NBA International Players growth


The global expansion of Basketball as a Sport and business-wise vision have evolved through the years. The National Basketball Association (NBA) have had a great impact on the former subject.

As a matter of fact, the first International player in the NBA was an Italian born Hank Biasatti ,raised in Canada. We are flashing back to 1946.

Fast-forward to 1992. The “Dream Team” in the Olympic Games rose the interest in the sport internationally. The following table will help observing the consequent rise of the NBA “Product”, numbers on the opening day rosters:

NBA Season International Players Countries
1991-1992 23 18
2013-2014 92 39
2014-2015 101 37
2015-2016 100 37
2016-2017 113 41
2017-2018 108 42


The 2017-2018 NBA Season started already breaking records.

There were registered 108 International players from 42 different countries. It is the fourth consecutive season that opening night rosters display at least 100 international players. Moreover, every team from all 30 had at least one international player.

Additionally, NBA teams can sign up to two two-way players to NBA contracts. This means that the former contracts allow two-way players to be with their NBA “parent” team for up to 45 days, spending most of the season in the NBA G League.

Remarkable Record:

  • European NBA Players: 64

12 African-born Players.

Leading International Countries with NBA Players:

Country Number of International Players
Canada 11
France 10
Australia 8
Spain 7
Brazil 5
Germany 5
Croatia 5
Serbia 5
Turkey 5


NBA Teams with most international players:

NBA Team Number of International Players
Toronto Raptors 7
Utah Jazz 7
Boston Celtics 6
Philadelphia 76ers 6
San Antonio Spurs 6
Dallas Mavericks 5
Denver Nuggets 5
New York Knicks 5
Orlando Magic 5


Hence, the enriching game of Basketball has been reaching breaking television rights contratcs. People are into basketball, more than ever. Jerseys purchase, NBA Global Games and NBA Cares.

Therefore, the game involves people globally, with global talent as already displayed by the number above.

Lastly, one specific young international talent has been on the spotlight within the beginning of the 2017-2018 season:

“The Greek Freak”.

Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 115 points through the first three games (115 minutes on the court). Antetokounmpo is averaging one point per minute and leads all starters.

Its possible to analyze that at the beginning of the season, 3 out of the 5 leading points per minute are international athletes (at that point):

Giannis Antetokounmpo – 1.00 point per minute
Blake Griffin – 0.95
Stephen Curry – 0.91
Kristaps Porzingis – 0.88
Nikola Vučević – 0.87Nikola Vučević – 0.87

The international footprint is visible on the NBA. Reaching new horizons and heights. A few NBA teams are already fulfilling their roster with almost half of International players, in an American league.

It is good for business, for fans and, above all, for Basketball.