The National Basketball Association (NBA) announced today that a record 113 international players from a record 41 countries and territories are on opening night rosters for the 2016-17 season. This marks the third consecutive season that opening night rosters feature at least 100 international players and that all 30 teams have at least one international player.
Opening night rosters feature a record number of European (61), African (14) and Spanish (8) players. Canada has the most of any country for the third straight year with 11 NBA players. France comes in second for the third consecutive year with 10 NBA players. Brazil features a record-tying nine players, Australia features a record-tying eight players, while Croatia has a record-tying five NBA players.
The Utah Jazz leads the league with seven international players, while the Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets, Oklahoma City Thunder, Orlando Magic, Philadelphia 76ers, San Antonio Spurs and Toronto Raptors each feature six. The Los Angeles Lakers, Minnesota Timberwolves and New York Knicks field five each.
The NBA’s 71st season begins tonight with a doubleheader on TNT as part of Kia NBA Tip-Off 2016. In the opening game, the NBA Champion Cleveland Cavaliers will host the New York Knicks at 7:30 p.m. ET. In the second game, the San Antonio Spurs visit the Golden State Warriors at 10:30 p.m. for a matchup of the teams with the league’s best records last season. In addition, the Portland Trail Blazers will host the Utah Jazz at 10 p.m. ET on NBA LEAGUE PASS.
A number of high-profile international players are scheduled to make their NBA debut during opening week, including:
· Dragan Bender (Croatia), the No. 4 overall selection, and the Phoenix Suns are home vs. the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday, Oct. 26 at 10 p.m. ET on NBA LEAGUE PASS
· Buddy Hield (Bahamas), the No. 6 overall selection, and Jamal Murray (Canada), the No. 7 overall selection, will go head-to-head when the New Orleans Pelicans host the Nuggets on Oct. 26 at 8 p.m. ET on NBA LEAGUE PASS
· Jakob Poeltl, the No. 9 overall selection and the first Austrian player in NBA history, and the Raptors are home vs. the Detroit Pistons on Oct. 26 at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBA LEAGUE PASS
· Thon Maker (South Sudan), the No. 10 overall selection, and the Milwaukee Bucks will host the Charlotte Hornets on Oct. 26 at 8 p.m. ET on NBA LEAGUE PASS
· 2014 lottery selections Joel Embiid (Cameroon) and Dario Saric (Croatia) and the 76ers are home vs. the Oklahoma City Thunder on Oct. 26 at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN
The previous records for international players (101) and countries and territories represented (39) were set at the start of the 2014-15 and 2013-14 seasons, respectively. NBA rosters at the start of the 2015-16 season featured 100 international players from 37 countries and territories.
Source: Pitch London
Image: Getty / NBA