One of the biggest developing changes in the NBA over the past decade has been the influx of international talent coming into the NBA.
During the 2016 NBA Draft, half of the players selected (15 total) in the first round were natives of other countries. Historically a new precedent was set since international players first began making their way into the league.
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Players like Drazen Petrovic, Vlade Divac, Arvydas Sabonis, Sarunas Marciulionis, and Toni Kukoc made an impact in the league, and opened the door for future opportunities.
Not only have NBA teams ramped up their scouting overseas, but players whom many have not heard of before are serious competition for lottery selections over one-year college players.
The San Antonio Spurs, seem to have always been ahead of the curve when it comes to discovering international talent, and they seem to do it with the type of eye unbeknownst to others.
The team style basketball played in San Antonio is perfect for what most of the players already know. Swinging the ball, making good passes, taking good shots, not trying to take over games as a one man wrecking crew has worked out well over the past 20 years.
Maybe they get lucky, and maybe they are diligent, but the talent always seems to fit best spread across the roster.
Coach Gregg Popovich says they have a bit of luck on their side when reflecting back on how the Spurs drafted Manu Ginobili.
The draft came along and it was in the 50’s [late in the second round]. And there was nobody who was going to make our team there anyway, and this guy was the most athletic, so we said, ‘Let’s draft him.’ But we did not know he was going to become what he is today. That would have been a real stretch.
The Spurs recently grabbed big man Boban Marjanovic from Serbia when they seemingly had little chance to get anything worthwhile in the 2015 draft,but he turned out to be a fan favorite immediately.
The presence of Marjanovic brought highlights throughout the season. He is a big man with a soft touch and strong on the inside. The Spurs could not retain him after the season due to financial reasons, but he earned a three-year $21 million contract from the Detroit Pistons. presence was unable to keep him past last season for contractual reasons, but he played well enough to show the Spurs’ eye for international talent.
This summer the team needed to get younger and more athletic, but didn’t stick with NBA players to fill the needs. They signed players such as sharp shooting Davis Bertans from Latvia, and guard Nicolas Laprovittola, Ginobili’s Argentinian National teammate.
During the summer olympics in Rio, the Spurs had the most player representation of all teams with seven players who have donned the silver and black uniforms.
What we can conclude from this all is, not only should you always expect the Spurs to look outside for talent, but they also have and always will have the most international flavor.