With a record 92 players from 32 countries and territories, the 2013-14 NBA season is the true culmination of basketball’s international presence. In this list we’ll take a look at the top 10 international players currently in the NBA; guys that make a big impact on their respective teams.
10. Nikola Vucevic (Montenegro) – Orlando Magic
The son of a former star of the Yugloslavia national team, Nikola Vucevic is having a stellar season for the Orlando Magic, averaging 13.9 PPG and 10.9 RPG. He is a productive rebounder, and has quite an impressive jump shot for his 7’0″ size. With his array of post moves and touch around the rim the former first-round pick has the talent to develop into one of the most versatile centers in the NBA.
9. Nikola Pekovic (Montenegro) – Minnesota Timberwolves
The strongman from Montenegro has played exceptionally well this season, averaging 17.7 PPG and 9.0 RPG. He has helped carry the Minnesota Timberwolves to a 34-33 record. His toughness helps give the Timberwolves a much needed presence inside.
8. Anderson Varejao (Brazil) – Cleveland Cavaliers
The 6’11″ Brazilian is a much needed defensive impact for the building Cleveland Cavaliers. His sense of positioning in the post has made him a key rebounder for the team. This season he is averaging 8.6 PPG and 10.0 RPG. He has slowly become one of the most reliable big men in the NBA.
7. Dirk Nowitzki (Germany) – Dallas Mavericks
The former NBA MVP, Finals MVP, and multiple All-Star has been a sharpshooter since he was drafted into the NBA. Averaging 21.5 PPG and 6.0 RPG, he has led the Dallas Mavericks to 41-28 overall record this season. His ability to shoot from anywhere on the floor and ability to close out games makes him a nightmare to defend. That and that fact that he is 7’0″ and shoots with one of the softest touches in NBA history.
6. Al Horford (Dominican Republic) – Atlanta Hawks
Horford is a model of consistency in the NBA year in and year out. He is not only a great center but defends multiple positions very well. Before succumbing to injury this season, he averaged 18.6 PPG, 8.4 RPG, and 1.5 BPG and is building himself into the Hawks’ franchise player.
5. Nicolas Batum (France) – Portland Trail Blazers
A long defender and nightmare for offensive players, Nicolas Batum loves to guard the opposing team’s best player and often prevails. A versatile player, he is averaging 13.3 PPG, 5.2 APG, and 7.5 RPG this NBA season and contributes at both ends of the court. He definitely has a bright future ahead of him.
4. Serge Ibaka (Congo/Spain) – Oklahoma City Thunder
One of the league’s outstanding defenders, Ibaka is a much needed anchor to the Oklahoma City Thunder roster. He is a tenacious rebounder and blocker of the ball with a much improved jump shot. Averaging 15.3 PPG, 8.9 RPG, and 2.6 BPG, Ibaka is a shot-blocking and defensive machine.
3. Marc Gasol (Spain) – Memphis Grizzlies
The brother of the smooth shooting Spaniard Pau Gasol, Marc has grown into one of the best centers in the NBA. A prolific blocker of the basketball and one of the best passing big men in the game, he is averaging 13.8 PPG, 6.7 RPG, and 1.5 BPG. He is definitely a threat at both ends of the court and will only be improving his game for years to come.
2. Tony Parker (France) – San Antonio Spurs
Hands down one of the best point guards in the NBA and consistently flying under the radar, Parker has helped lead the Spurs to the playoffs year in and year out. Without Tony Parker the Spurs are not themselves. The former NBA Finals MVP is averaging 17.6 PPG and 6.1 APG as the Spurs sit at 51-16.
1. Goran Dragic (Yugoslavia) – Phoenix Suns
The Suns point guard has been playing at an All-Star level all season, averaging a career-best 20.4 PPG and 6.0 APG. The magic was captured just a few weeks ago as Suns fans chanted MVP as Dragic dropped 40 against the New Orleans Pelicans. His exceptional play this year has led the Suns to a 39-29 record and a chance at a playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Basketball, and the NBA, has truly become an international game.
Featured image courtesy of Keith Allison/Flickr.