- The 2019 NBA draft will be held on Thursday, June 20.
- Once again, NBA teams will select players from around the world, a testament to the worldwide popularity of the sport.
- Over the last decade, no country outside the United States has produced more NBA draft picks than Canada, but a few others are not far behind.
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The 2019 NBA draft will be held on Thursday and, as usual, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver will call the names of many players from around the world.
The number of NBA players who were born outside the United States has hovered around 25% in recent years, with 42 different countries represented on the opening-night rosters for the 2018-19 season.
We looked back at the last 10 drafts to see which countries have the most players taken by NBA teams. Not surprisingly, Canada leads the way with the most players born outside the U.S. selected, but some might be shocked to see France is a close second.
Ukraine — 5
Highest-drafted player: Alex Len (5th overall in 2013 to the Suns)
Notable players: Len has played six seasons in the NBA, most recently signing with the Hawks as a free agent. He started 31 games in 2018-19, averaging 11.1 points and 5.5 rebounds per game.
Nigeria — 5
Highest-drafted player: Josh Okogie (20th overall in 2018 to the Timberwolves)
Notable players: Okogie just finished his rookie year, starting 52 games and averaging 7.7 points per game. Festus Ezeli played three seasons in the NBA, winning a championship with the 2014-15 Warriors.
Latvia — 5
Highest-drafted player: Kristaps Porzingis (4th overall in 2015 to the Knicks)
Notable players: Porzingis is the most notable Lavian in the NBA, now playing for the Mavericks. Rodions Kurucs started 46 games as a rookie for the Nets after being taken in the second round of the 2018 draft. Brothers Davis Bertans (Spurs) and Dairis Bertans (Pelicans) are also in the NBA.
Croatia — 5
Highest-drafted player: Mario Hezonja (5th overall in 2015 to the Magic)
Notable players: Hezonja has become a part-time starter, first with the Magic and now with the Knicks. The same can be said for Dario Saric who was taken 12th overall and started with the 76ers but was recently traded to the Timberwolves.
Brazil — 5
Highest-drafted player: Lucas Nogueira (16th overall in 2013 to the Celtics)
Notable players: Nogueira saw limited playing time in four NBA seasons and now plays in Spain. Tiago Splitter played seven seasons in the NBA and won a championship with the 2013-14 Spurs. He is now a coach and scout for the Nets. Marcelo Huertas spent parts of two seasons with the Lakers but was best known for occasionally ending up on “Shaqtin’ a Fool.“
Greece — 6
Highest-drafted player: Georgios Papagiannis (13th overall in 2016 to the Suns)
Notable players: Papagiannis saw limited playing time in two NBA seasons and has returned to Greece to play. The most notable player is, of course, “The Greek Freak,” Giannis Antetokounmpo. In addition, his two brothers, Thanasis Antetokounmpo and Kostas Antetokounmpo were also drafted. Kostas Antetokounmpo was drafted in 2018 but spent most of the season in the G League. Thanasis Antetokounmpo was drafted in 2015 but played in just two NBA games with the Knicks. After several seasons in the G League, he now plays in Greece.
Germany — 6
Highest-drafted player: Dennis Schröder (17th overall in 2013 to the Hawks)
Notable players: Schröder developed into a 19-point-per-game player with the Hawks before being traded to the Thunder and becoming Russell Westbrook’s backup. Moritz Wagner just completed his rookie season with the Lakers, while Maxi Kleber, Paul Zipser, and Daniel Theis have all become role players for their respective teams.
Australia — 6
Highest-drafted player: Ben Simmons (1st overall in 2016 to the 76ers)
Notable players: Simmons won Rookie of the Year and was named an All-Star in his second season, despite still struggling with his shot. Australia actually has a second player taken first overall in recent years, in Kyrie Irving, although he was born down under to American parents while his dad played professionally in Australia. Andrew Bogut was also taken first overall in 2005. Other notables in the last decade include Matthew Dellavedova, Joe Ingles, Dante Exum, and Patty Mills.
Spain — 7
Highest-drafted player: Ricky Rubio (5th overall in 2009 to the Timberwolves)
Notable players: Rubio was famously one of the point guards drafted before Stephen Curry in 2009. While he has never developed a dependable shot, he has been a dependable starter and a great passer throughout his career. Juan Hernangomez has developed into a solid role player for the Nuggets.
Bosnia and Herzegovina — 8
Highest-drafted player: Dragan Bender (4th overall in 2016 to the Suns)
Notable players: Bender has yet to develop into anything more than a role player with the Suns. However, Bojan Bogdanovic has developed into an 18-point-per-game player with the Pacers.
Serbia — 11
Highest-drafted player: Nikola Milutinov (26th overall in 2015 to the Spurs)
Notable players: Despite Serbia having 11 players drafted over the last decade, none have been taken higher than 26th overall. Serbia did produce one of the biggest draft busts in Darko Milicic, who was taken second overall in 2003. However, they also have one of the greatest steals in recent NBA history with Nikola Jokic, who wasn’t selected until the second round (41st overall). Milutinov has never appeared in an NBA game.
France — 13
Highest-drafted player: Guerschon Yabusele (16th overall in 2016 to the Celtics)
Notable players: France is second on the list, but have not had a player taken among the lottery picks. In addition to Yabusele, who has yet to become a regular for the Celtics, more notable recent French NBA players include Evan Fournier and Rudy Gobert. The latter was the 2018-18 Defensive Player of the Year and is a two-time All-NBA player. Also, Frank Ntilikina of the Knicks is worth mentioning because he is French, but he was born in Belgium.
Canada — 16
Highest-drafted player: Andrew Wiggins (1st overall in 2014 to the Cavaliers), Anthony Bennett (1st overall in 2013 to the Cavaliers)
Notable players: Proving that the sport was growing north of the border long before the Raptors won the championship, Canada leads the way with 16 draft picks over the last decade. In addition to Wiggins, the group also includes notable players such as Tristan Thompson, Jamal Murray, and Nik Stauskas.
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