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All-NBA: Luka, Nicola and Jannis prove that international players dominate the league

To Martin Rogers
FOX Sports Columnist

The lineup of assistant coaching was nothing better than that. Georgetown Link.

At the Basketball Without Borders camp in Johannesburg, South Africa, 11 years ago, the center had Dikembe Mutombo embrace them about footwork. Then I went to Patrick Ewing’s station for tips on how to use the upper body for defensive effects. Then to Alonzo Mourning for aggressive movements and the use of glass.

Among the campers was a skinny young man from Cameroon who had been hooping for only a few years.Perhaps that’s why he was less noticeable than any other hoper, but he heard all three words NBA The legend had to be provided. He was realistic, but a little dreamed of what happened after even the wildest version of his basketball fantasy was surpassed.

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Youth, Joel Hans Embiid, Has lost Hans since then, but has won much more. When Embiid was nominated as the center of the All-NBA Second Team on Tuesday, it was the latest chapter in the biggest modern basketball success story from the African Continent. And when combined with a few other stories, it’s the greatest evidence to date that the NBA’s present, and arguably its future, is surprisingly international.

Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers Despite a broken orbital bone, he entered the Eastern Conference semi-finals because he was on the All-NBA First Team if the only player with more MVP votes than him was in the center. prize.

“Embiid, who was one of the three best players in this year’s league, didn’t make (the first team),” said a FOXNBA analyst. Chris Brusard Said to “First Things First” “It’s ridiculous. Embiid deserves to be better than this.”

But Nikola Jokić Is also big, and Denver Nuggets The star’s second straight victory in the MVP race two weeks ago led to another foreign scene that looked like a world away from the NBA hardwoods and their shining arenas.

A lifelong horse enthusiast, Jokić won an award at his native Serbian stables. There, I saw a curious pony interviewed to celebrate his praise, surprised by a group of his family and friends. That’s not something that usually happens. Welcome to the new NBA. Here, geography is of no value, and skill sets (such as Jokić’s silky passages) are universal currencies.

It’s been four years in a row that the MVP title has felt exotic. Janis AdetokumpoEfforts for Milwaukee Bucks He gave him two awards before Jokić.

There were seven foreign-born all-stars this season. The NBA has launched a campaign featuring 109 players from 39 countries. More than 11 of the last 27 top picks in the draft were international, but in reality, the overseas explosion at the top end of the game has begun significantly in the last few years.

Luka Doncic (Slovenia) was also selected as the All-NBA No.1 team. Pascal Siakam (Cameroon) I chose the location of the second team.When Lebron James, Kevin Durant When Stephen Curry Few players from these shores are currently seen as most likely to challenge team trophies and personal praise towards the back end of their career.

but why? Well, it’s a big world out there, basketball is so popular, the willingness and ability to identify and teach young talent is real and exists in far more places than before.

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For years, the NBA has been trying to expand its reach and promote excellence around the world. The camp in which Embiid participated is a typical example. Siakam also participated in borderless basketball in 2012. Fast-forwarding to this day, the NBA was the main driving force behind the establishment of the Basketball Africa League, a Champions League-style tournament for the best clubs on the continent.

European influences are also a major factor, and once the stars of the euro game found it difficult to physically adapt to the NBA, they are now almost unprepared.

It’s a relatively new phenomenon in the United States that anyone can shine a light from 3, but it’s been so for years in Europe. As Doncic emphasizes, there are other nuances to consider.

“Of course, it’s easier to score here in the NBA than in Europe,” Doncic told The Washington Post shortly after entering the league. “In Europe, the courts are small and there is a defensive three-second rule here. I think it’s easier to score here.”

The international influx has done a lot. It brought a variety of skills to the forefront, astounding the NBA’s worldwide popularity and changing its recruitment and talent identification systems.

And above all, the NBA’s recognition of superstars has expanded. This is a lofty perch that has never been hard to reach, but you can start your journey from anywhere.

Martin Rogers is a FOX Sports columnist and author of the FOX Sports Insider Newsletter. You can subscribe to our newsletter here..


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All-NBA: Luka, Nicola and Jannis prove that international players dominate the league

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