The National Basketball Association (NBA) announced Tuesday that the league’s opening night rosters have set new records for both the number of international players in the league and the number of countries represented. Opening night rosters feature a total of 113 international players from 41 different countries and territories.
Some new additions to the league have helped boost that total of territories. Pelicans rookie Buddy Hield is the only player in the league from the Bahamas. Raptors rookie Jakob Poeltl is the first Austrian player to ever play in the NBA. Additionally Tomas Satoransky (Czech Republic), Skal Labissiere (Haiti), and Cheik Diallo (Mali) will make their NBA debuts as the only representatives in the league from their respective countries.
The 2016-17 season will be the third consecutive year that the league has over 100 international players and that each team will open the season rostering at least one international player.
Canada is the most well-represented country in the league (outside of the United States) with 11 players on NBA rosters while France is a close second with 10 players. The Utah Jazz have the highest number of international players with seven–nearly half their roster. Seven teams–Dallas, Denver, Oklahoma City, Orlando, Philadelphia, San Antonio, and Toronto–have six international players on their opening night rosters.
It has been true for a number of years now, but gone are the days where an international player on an NBA roster was an intriguing novelty. As can be seen from All-Star rosters and the competitiveness of international play, basketball is truly a global game with stars emerging from every continent (save Antarctica) on the globe.