The National Basketball Association announced recently that 108 international players from a record-tying 42 countries and territories are on opening-night rosters for the 2018-19 season. Among them are 13 players from Africa.
This marks the fifth consecutive season that opening-night rosters feature at least 100 international players and that all 30 teams have at least one international player.
The record for international players (113) and record for countries and territories represented (42) were set at the start of the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons respectively.
The most-represented countries among the 108 international players on opening-night rosters are Canada (11 players), Australia (record nine players), France (nine players), Spain (seven players) and Germany (record six players), followed by Croatia, Serbia and Turkey (five players each).
Opening-night rosters also feature 13 African-born players and a record 65 European players.
The Dallas Mavericks have an NBA-high seven international players.
The Utah Jazz and L.A. Clippers each have six.
The Boston Celtics, New York Knicks, Oklahoma City Thunder, Philadelphia 76ers and San Antonio Spurs field five each.
The NBA’s 73rd season started with a doubleheader as part of Kia NBA Tip-Off 2018.
In the opening game, the Celtics hosted the 76ers in a rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference Semifinals.
In the second game, the Thunder visited two-time defending NBA Champion Golden State Warriors at 4:30.
A record 26 former Basketball Without Borders campers are on opening-night rosters, including Joel Embiid (76ers; Cameroon; BWB Africa 2011), Jamal Murray (Denver Nuggets; Canada; BWB Global 2015), Dario Saric (76ers; Croatia; BWB Europe 2010) and Ayton (BWB Global 2016).
BWB is the NBA and FIBA’s global basketball development and community outreach programme that has seen more than 55 former campers drafted into the NBA or signed as free agents since 2001.
In addition to the 108 international players on 2018-19 opening-night rosters, there are six international players from five countries on “two-way” contracts.
For the second consecutive season, NBA teams can sign up to two two-way players to NBA contracts.
These contracts allow two-way players to be with their NBA parent team for up to 45 days, spending most of the season in the NBA G League.
International player milestones and storylines for the upcoming season:
· There are 11 international players on opening-night rosters who have been NBA All-Stars: Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks; Greece), Luol Deng (Minnesota Timberwolves; South Sudan), Goran Dragic (Miami Heat; Slovenia), Embiid, Al Horford (Celtics; Dominican Republic), Marc Gasol (Memphis Grizzlies; Spain), Pau Gasol (Spurs; Spain), Kyrie Irving (Celtics; Australia), Dirk Nowitzki (Mavericks; Germany), Tony Parker (Charlotte Hornets; France) and Kristaps Porzingis (Knicks; Latvia).
Nowitzki will set an NBA record for most seasons played with one team (21), breaking a tie with Kobe Bryant, who spent 20 seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers. Nowitzki will tie the NBA record for most seasons played overall (21), joining Robert Parish, Kevin Willis, Kevin Garnett and the Atlanta Hawks’ Vince Carter, who is also beginning his 21st season.
As part of the NBA.com 2018-19 GM Survey, Antetokounmpo was voted the No. 1 player with whom general managers would want to start a franchise. Murray was voted the No. 1 player most likely to have a breakout season.
Pau Gasol needs 15 points to pass David Robinson (20,790 points) for 38th place on the all-time scoring list and 105 points to pass Bob Pettit (20,880 points) for 37th place on the all-time scoring list.
Tony Parker needs 306 points to pass Bob Lanier (19,248 points) for 50th place on the all-time scoring list.
Yuta Watanabe (two-way player for the Grizzlies; Japan; NBA Global Camp 2018) is seeking to become the second Japanese player to play in the NBA (Yuta Tabuse; Suns 2004-05).