Last night was the NBA Draft and the Cleveland Cavaliers took Duke University point guard Kyrie Irving with the top pick. But the big winners may have been the international players.
The draft marked the culmination of a big month for foreign-born players.
It started with Dirk Nowitzki leading the Dallas Mavericks to their first NBA Championship. And then there was 2009 first-round pick Ricky Rubio declaring he would (finally) play in the NBA, which led to a surprisingly jubilant city of Minneapolis.
But last night proved that the NBA believes in the international player as much as ever. Nine international players were drafted in the first round (yes, Canada is international), including five of the top seven picks. This group was led by Enes Kanter from Turkey, who was taken fourth overall by the Utah Jazz.
This comes a year after the NBA Draft included just two international players taken in the first round. And just one of those players (Kevin Seraphin) did not play college basketball in the United States.
Here is a look at the history of international players in the NBA draft (in the lottery era) broken down by players that actually played in the United States prior to being drafted…
All data via ESPN.com and NBA.com
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