The NBA is all about international players these days. Heck, the past three MVP winners — Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jokic and Joel Embiid — are all international players. That group very well may include Luka Doncic someday as well. But the international talent in the NBA isn't just at the top of the league — it's everywhere. Here are the 20 best international players in the NBA today.
Note: Canadian players were not considered. Neither were players born in the Caribbean Islands who played at American colleges (so no Al Horford, Karl-Anthony Towns, Deandre Ayton, etc.). Finally, players like Domantas Sabonis, whose father was an international player, but was born in the United States, were not considered. Enjoy!
2022-23 stats: 24.5 PPG; 11.8 RPG; 9.8 APG; 63-38-82 shooting splits
If the two-time MVP and five-time All-NBA Nuggets superstar didn't already hold the "best player in the world" belt, Nikola Jokic sure does now after dismantling the entire Western Conference on the way to leading the Denver Nuggets to their first championship. Jokic nearly averaged a triple-double in the playoffs, while becoming the first player to lead the postseason in points, rebounds and assists. Adding a title to his already excellent resume cements him as one of the greatest, if not the greatest, value draft pick — and easily the greatest second-round draft pick (pick no. 41) — of all time.
2022-23 stats: 31.1 PPG; 11.8 RPG; 5.7 APG
Speaking of incredible value picks, it's hard to believe that Giannis Antetokounmpo, who will go down as one of the 15-20 greatest players of all time, lasted all the way to the 15th pick of the 2013 NBA Draft. The Greek native has been the league's best development story ever. Drafted as a skinny and gangly 6-foot-9 forward from a little-known secondary league in Greece, Giannis grew to a muscular seven-footer who is now the most unstoppable two-way force in the league. The two-time MVP and one-time champion still has a long career in front of him and should be a consistent MVP contender and championship contender for the next half decade, if not longer.
2022-23 stats: 33.1 PPG; 10.2 RPG; 4.2 APG; 1.7
Despite his unceremonious exit from the playoffs, Joel Embiid was still a deserving MVP this past season, leading the league in scoring and helping Philly to one of its best seasons this century. Embiid was born in Cameroon, grew up playing soccer and didn't starting playing basketball until the age of 15. Still, his skill level increase exponentially once he got to America, and, despite only playing 31 games in his first three NBA seasons, was an All-Star by age 23. He's squarely in his prime right now and will continue to be in the mix for MVP and championships in coming years.
2022-23 stats: 32.4 PPG; 8.6 RPG; 8.0 APG
Crazy to think that one could argue that these first four international players also happen to be the four best basketball players in the world right now. Doncic, who at some point in the next five years will be the best player on the planet, is the most advanced offensive player for his age in NBA history. Though he accumulates statistics in a different manner, Doncic is essentially an evolutionary version of LeBron James on offense. And like James, he takes his game to another level in the postseason, where he's averaged 32.5 PPG, 9.3 RPG and 7.9 APG in 28 career playoff games. If this Slovenian prodigy ever rounds out the rest of his game (translation: becomes a league-average defender), we could be looking at a pantheon-level player someday.
2022-23 stats: 25.6 PPG; 8.6 RPG; 50-39-88 shooting splits
When Lauri Markkanen entered the NBA, the hope was that the 7-foot, sweet-shooting Finland native would develop into some sort of poor man's version of Dirk Nowitzki. And his first two seasons gave people some reason to believe he was on his way towards being that type of player. Unfortunately, he plateaued and even regressed over the next three to the point where most people wrote him off as an impact player. This past season, however, he made one of the more surprising leaps in recent memory and may have even altered the original "poor man's Dirk" trajectory — his ceiling might be closer to Dirk's than we ever could've imagined after he improved his averages by nearly 11 PPG and his rebounding by over 3 RPG, won Most Improved Player, and showed he could be an efficient focal point of a playoff contender moving forward.
2022-23 stats: 24.2 PPG; 7.8 RPG; 5.8 APG
Pascal Siakam is one of the best development stories in the past decade. If you asked people around the NBA what they thought of Siakam his rookie season, they would have said, "Who?" His second season, they may have said he'd be an end of the rotation player. By the end of his third season, he was the Most Improved Player and second- or third-best player on a championship team. Today, he's an All Star and All-NBA-caliber player. The menacing 6-foot-9 forward, nicknamed "Spicy P", hails from Cameroon and is a franchise cornerstone in Toronto.
2022-23 stats: 23.2 PPG; 8.4 RPG; 50-39-85 shooting splits
If you had me project what this list would look like back in the 2017-18 season, I'd have had Porzingis near the very top of the list, as it looked as though he was ready to change the way we view big men — particularly the "unicorns" who could do everything despite being over seven-feet tall — moving forward. Unfortunately, the 7-foot-3 rim-protecting and three-point shooting Latvian tore his ACL and fell out of favor with the Knicks. After struggling to regain the agility that made him so special on defense, he regressed in Dallas as Luka Doncic's sidekick and was traded to the Wizards. But don't look now — in his first full year with the Wizards, Porzingis had the best offensive season of his career, averaging 23.2 PPG, 8.4 RPG while connecting on 49.8 percent of his shots and 38.5 percent of his three-pointers, and reminding everyone that he's still a very good player.
2022-23 stats: 21.6 PPG; 49-41-88 shooting splits
Though he was ultimately never traded this past season, the Pistons' Bojan Bogdanovic was on every single contender's wish list. Why? Because the 34-year-old from Bosnia and Herzegovina had his finest season as a pro, averaging 21.6 PPG on ridiculous efficiency (49-41-88 shooting splits). And guess what? He'll be on every contender's wish list again this season, as the Pistons probably won't be in the playoff hunt come trade season. At a stout 6-foot-7 and 226 pounds, Bogdanovic is the ideal floor-spacing wing on offense who can also initiate a bit, and he's strong enough to push most opposing wings despite his age.
2022-23 stats: 13.4 PPG; 11.6 RPG; 1.4 BPG; 65.9 percent from the field
Although he isn't the perennial Defensive Player of the Year candidate and one-man defensive system unto himself that he was during his prime years with the Jazz, Rudy Gobert is still an impactful NBA big man. Gobert is 7-foot-1 and has a preposterous 7-foot-9 wingspan that helped him average 2.3 BPG (and deter a helluva a lot of other shots) from 2015 to 2022. The French big man was the epitome of a developmental success story as he was selected with the No, 27 pick of the 2013 NBA Draft by the Utah Jazz, but clearly one of the draft's best players within a couple of seasons.
2022-23 stats: 18.6 PPG; 4.1 RPG; 3.5 APG; 49-36-82 shooting splits
While Rookie of the Year Paolo Banchero got the majority of the national attention whenever analysts would focus on the up-and-coming Magic, Franz Wagner is just as vital a piece of the franchise's future. The second-year pro out of Germany does it all on offense — similar to Banchero — and, at least in their first season together, Wagner is a more efficient player. The 6-foot-9 small forward will likely make a run at the All Star team in the next season or two, and has an All-NBA ceiling, especially if the team turns into a contender in the future.
2022-23 stats: 16.8 PPG; 5 RPG; 1.9 SPG; 48-39-84 shooting splits
When you picture the ideal three-and-D wing, OG Anunoby should be on the short list of players that comes to mind. Standing at 6-foot-7 with a massive 7-foot-2 wingspan, Anunoby can essentially guard any player in the NBA at a high level. He led the NBA in steals this past season and even protects the rim reasonably well for a wing defender. His offense has been very solid for the past three seasons as well — he's averaged 16.6 PPG with 47-38-80 shooting splits. If Toronto ever were to deal him, the British-Nigerian swingman would command a number of first-round picks.
2022-23 stats: 16.6 PPG; 7.9 RPG; 6.2 APG
Something tells me that this 6-foot-8 Australian point forward will be much higher when we do this list a couple of years from now. Giddey came to the NBA as a bit of an international mystery man — he clearly had excellent vision, size and feel for the game, but it was unclear whether it would all translate once he had to play against elite athletes in the NBA. Oh, and he also couldn't shoot worth a lick from the outside. Two years into his career, it's obvious that his skills have translated and his improvement from year one (42-26-71 shooting splits) to year two (48-33-73 shooting splits) would seem to suggest that the shooting will be, at the very least, league-average when he hits his prime. Giddey, ironically, could develop into the type of multi-faceted offensive force we always envisioned a different Australian product (Ben Simmons) would develop into.
2022-23 stats: 17.6 PPG; 11 RPG
It's somewhat comical to think about, but Nikola Vucevic was easily one of the best picks by the 76ers in the past decade. Unfortunately, the Sixers dealt him as part of the Dwight Howard deal in 2012 to the Magic, which is where his career took off. Over the course of his next 11 seasons, he's averaged 17.8 PPG and 10.9 RPG. He's also been selected to two All-Star teams during that time. The 6-foot-10 big man, who was born in Switzerland, is still an above-average big man in today's NBA.
2022-23 stats: 12 PPG; 11 RPG; 65.3 percent from field
Another big man from Switzerland who's made his mark on the NBA is Clint Capela, a 6-foot-10 athletic center who specializes in dirty work. Capela began his career in Houston and developed into James Harden's roll man and paint protector, averaging 14.3 PPG, 11.1 RPG and 1.6 BPG while shooting 64.5 percent from the field during his final four seasons. Once the Rockets decided to move to a center-less lineup in 2020, he was moved to Atlanta, where he has had a similar role playing alongside Trae Young. In his first year with the Hawks, he led the NBA in rebounding (14.3 RPG).
2022-23 stats: 14.1 PPG; 10.2 RPG
Jonas Valanciunas was born too late. The 6-foot-11, 265-pound Lithuanian bruiser was built for the NBA of yesteryear that was dominated by low-post bigs. Yet, he has still managed to put together a good 10-year career that is still going strong. During his past five seasons, he's been a walking double-double, averaging 15.9 PPG and 10.9 RPG. He's even worked on expanding his range during that stretch, shooting 35 percent on 1.5 three-point attempts per game.
2022-23 stats: 14.8 PPG; 9 RPG; 3.9 APG
Want a good barometer for an NBA sicko? Ask them who the best player on the Houston Rockets was last season. Most people will say Jalen Green, Kevin Porter Jr. or maybe even Jabari Smith Jr. And they will all be wrong. Second-year Turkish big man Alperen Sengun was the Rockets' best player. The 6-foot-9 center has excellent feel for the game and plays like Domantas Sabonis with more flair for making highlight passes and plays. The Rockets aren't really a serious franchise at the moment and will probably go sign James Harden (dumb!) or continue to let Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr. play as the team's primary ball handlers (also dumb!), but they should honestly be running their entire offense through this guy.
2022-23 stats: 14 PPG; 45-41-83 shooting splits
It's crazy to think that Bogdan Bogdanovic has only played six NBA seasons, because he seems to have been hitting cold-blooded shots for a decade. The 30-year-old from Belgrade, Serbia spent the first five years of his professional career playing in Serbia and Turkey, then came to the NBA, immediately playing the role as a deft shooter and secondary creator. His career stats effectively mirror his past seasons' numbers and there's no reason to believe he'll slow down anytime soon.
2022-23 stats: 12.5 PPG; 9.1 RPG; 62.9 percent from field
I know, I know — Jakob Poeltl isn't exactly the most exciting player in the NBA, but he's still a very good big man and worthy of recognition as one of the best current international players in the league. In addition to averaging basically a double-double for the past two seasons and being a high-end defender (top-20 in rebounding and blocks last season), the7-foot-1 Austrian big man is an advanced stats darling. Last season, he posted an impressive 21.0 Player Efficiency Rating and had a plus-22 net rating per 100 possessions during his 26 games with the Raptors. At 27, he should continue to be a winning player for contenders for the next half decade.
2022-23 stats: 12.6 PPG; 4.5 APG
Though his stats aren't what they were earlier in his career when he was a full-time starting point guard — from 2017-2021, he averaged 17.4 PPG and 5.3 APG — Dennis Schroder was an instrumental part of the Lakers' late-season playoff push and postseason success. Despite being listed at only 6-foot-3 (and probably shorter than that) and 172 pounds, Schroder has a long wingspan, which allows him to pester opposing point guards on defense and use his quickness to zip past defenders on offense. Schroder hails from Germany and was selected with the No. 17 pick of the 2013 NBA Draft by the Atlanta Hawks.
2022-23 stats: 11.2 PPG
"Playoff Rui" flashed something that nobody — Wizards fans or Lakers fans — ever expected during the Lakers' nice postseason run, averaging 12.2 PPG with incredible efficiency (56-49-88 shooting splits). He even added in some solid defense for good measure. Hachimura was born in Japan and even went to high school there before playing three seasons for Gonzaga in college. Before his playoff run, he was viewed as a one-dimensional ball-hog. But if he can replicate the focus and energy he played with during the playoffs, he could develop into a nice two-way wing for the Lakers or another contender.