More international players than ever before, league says

Mon Oct 27, 2014 8:33pm EDT
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By Steve Ginsburg

(Reuters) - The number of international players in the National Basketball Association has increased 10 percent from one year ago, the league said on Monday.

A record 101 international players from 37 countries and territories are on opening night rosters, easily eclipsing last season's total of 92 players, according to the NBA.

The champion San Antonio Spurs lead the league for the third straight season with nine international players, followed by the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Brooklyn Nets with six each.

Canada has 12 international players in the NBA, including the overall number one pick in each of the last two NBA Drafts (Anthony Bennett and Andrew Wiggins). France follows Canada with 10, while Australia has eight and Brazil seven.

Spain rounds out the top five with five players from outside the United States.

Tyler Ennis, a first round pick out of Syracuse in the June draft, told Reuters his native Canada has "a lot of good players right now."

"We're taking basketball a lot more seriously," he said. "Back in the day, we had players but people didn't really believe they could make it to the NBA. Now, we have the talent. We just have to put them in the right spots to be showcased."

In the 2000-01 season, the league had 45 international players, less than half of today's total.   Continued...

Jun 26, 2014; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Andrew Wiggins (Kansas) shakes hands with NBA commissioner Adam Silver after being selected as the number one overall pick to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2014 NBA Draft at the Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports