INTERNATIONAL PLAYERS in NBA DRAFT | June 27
Is it time to change the name of the NBA to the GBA? Really, should we change it from National Basketball Association to Global Basketball Association?
Globalization is the magical term now. In this year's NBA draft, one key theme was the international player. The influx of foreign imports has taken over the headlines, and it has people going absolutely bananas. A record eight international players were selected in the first round of the 2003 NBA draft (and a record 20 overall).
Every team is dreaming about Dirk Nowitzki. The Dallas Mavericks' versatile 7-footer is a special player capable of getting it done inside and outside.
|NBA teams are searching overseas in hopes of finding another Dirk Nowitzki.|
Remember this, many of these international players drafted high up don't have that much experience. They are drafted on potential because they're so young, 18 or 19 years old, and because of an individual workout. But these guys haven't gotten the job done night in and night out, 30-35 times a season, like a college player in America.
You heard the magical word "upside" so many times on Thursday night. What about some downside? I know most people won't agree with me, but see me in three years when we'll have the real evaluation of these draft picks. I feel we will see a backlash involving the foreign players. I believe there will be a number of flops, with several guys unable to endure the long term of an NBA season. It is certainly different than the pressures of playing abroad.
It's definitely a dilemma. NBA scouts and administrators often look for and find the warts of our college players because they see them so often. They search for and talk about their negatives. Think about analyzing guys like Nick Collison, Dwyane Wade, T.J. Ford, Jarvis Hayes, Kirk Hinrich, Reece Gaines, etc. Scouts have seen them so many times over the course of a season and during their college careers, and often people don't spend enough time looking at the positives.
I'm glad that many of the imports have taken their game to a higher level. I've often said that 1992 was an important year for international basketball because the U.S. Olympic Dream Team set a standard that others went to work to achieve. There's no question that several have come here to become factors.
However, people don't say much about the guys like Frederic Weis, who was a top-15 selection of the New York Knicks. The next pick in the draft turned out to be a pretty good one: Ron Artest. I was glad to see that NBA teams didn't forget about college guys like Collison, Hinrich, Troy Bell, David West, Josh Howard and Brian Cook in the first round. They can succeed at the next level, baby!
I just have a funny gut feeling that many of these foreign guys will struggle to make the adjustment to the NBA, the league that features the best of the best, the creme de la creme.