Ranking the International Talent Around the NBA

International talent is prevalent in the NBA and seems to grow each year. The influence of strong basketball nations like Spain, France, Argentina and Brazil have helped the NBA evolve into the game it is today. Who are the best International players in the NBA today?

The 2012 Olympic Games were a great chance for NBA fans to see a showcase of the International talents that currently play in the NBA, as many may not have realized their nationality wasn’t American. The Olympic rosters had 39 NBA players on them, representing 11 different countries.

We’re going to rank the top-10 International talent in the NBA, based on their play during the young 2012-13 season. Because of that, don’t expect to see players who are hurt or battling injury, like Dirk Nowitzki (Germany), Steve Nash (Canada) or Manu Ginobili (Argentina).

10. Tony Parker, France

2012-13 Stats: 12.7 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 7.7 APG, 39.0 FG%, 37.5 3P%, 72.2 FT%

Tony Parker of France has been a key contributor for the San Antonio Spurs for a long time. He started the 2012-13 season strong, with game-winners against the New Orleans Hornets and the Oklahoma City Thunder.

As the point guard of one of the most potent offenses in the NBA, Parker is expected to accumulate better stats. He’s played just 24.7 minutes per game over his last three games and is averaging just five points per game in that time.

It’s too early in the season for Parker to be worn down, but he’s certainly capable of much more. His offensive rating of 96 would be the worst in his entire career, but there’s no way he’ll continue to shoot 39 percent from the field.

No. 9: Danilo Gallinari, Italy

2012-13 Stats: 13.8 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 2.8 APG, .7 SPG, .8 BPG, 30.0 FG%, 20.5 3P%, 75.1 FT%

Danilo Gallinari of Italy has been shooting as badly as any player in the league, but he’s starting to turn the corner. His three-pointer in double-overtime against the Golden State Warriors on Saturday night put his team in the lead, which they wouldn’t give up.

One has to respect the fact that Gallinari has raised the level of the other parts of his game, as he struggles with his shot. He’s averaging career-bests in rebounding, assists and blocks. The Denver Nuggets have so many options that he’s struggling to fit in.

As a 6’10” forward, he’s multi-talented and is a guy who will improve those horrific shooting percentages. At the very worst, the other players can take over some of the scoring duties, and Gallinari can move closer to the basket and makes use of that 101 defensive rating.

No. 8: Luis Scola, Argentina

2012-13 Stats: 14.6 PPG, 8.4 RPG, 1.9 APG, 1.6 SPG, .7 BPG, 46.1 FG%, 82.6 FT%

Luis Scola of Argentina was a surprise pickup for the Phoenix Suns after the Houston Rockets waived him via the amnesty clause. The Suns couldn’t be happier, as he’s been a very important part of their rebuilding project.

Scola hasn’t been used offensively as much as he is used to, but he’s made the best of it. He’s turning the ball over less than at any point in his career and is making the most of his offensive rebounding opportunities. His 9.1 offensive rebounding percentage is the best he’s had since 2008-09.

With a 20.6 efficiency rating, Scola has been a steal for the Suns. Sticking with the theme, his 1.6 steals are by far the best of his career and just adds to the value he’s brought to the desert.

No. 7: Al Horford, Dominican Republic

2012-13 Stats: 14.8 PPG, 8.4 RPG, 2.2 APG, .4 SPG, 1.2 BPG, 56.7 FG%, 66.7 FT%

Al Horford of the Dominican Republic had a disappointing 2011-12 season after a torn pectoral muscle limited him to just 11 games. However, he’s having a very solid bounce back year for the Atlanta Hawks and is a big reason that they are considered a playoff contender in the Eastern Conference.

Horford’s offensive rating is a wonderful 119 because of his career-best 56.7 field goal percentage. His assists and rebounds have slid in recent years, and it will take him a while to regain his aggressiveness on the glass.

His turnover percentage is way down, at just 7.3 percent. As a center, he isn’t expected to do a lot of passing, but if Josh Smith can’t get healthy, he’ll have to pick up the rebounding and scoring slack in the paint.

No. 6: Pau Gasol, Spain

2012-13 Stats: 14.3 PPG, 9.9 RPG, 3.0 APG, .9 SPG, 1.4 BPG, 41.4 FG%, 85.0 FT%

Pau Gasol of Spain has been extremely consistent and valuable to the Los Angeles Lakers for many years. His 2012-13 season, like the other Lakers’ players, has been spotty and not what we’ve come to expect from him.

The dynamic of Gasol and Dwight Howard on the court together could be a beautiful thing, but chemistry between them hasn’t developed yet. The addition of new coach Mike D’Antoni should create a big spike in Gasol’s numbers.

Things aren’t all bad, and if Gasol can hit a jump shot, he’ll be deadly. He’s a great passer and an extremely skilled post player. He’s only shot under 50 percent from the field once in his career, and that was 48.2 percent in 2003-04. His 41.4 percent has to be an aberration and nothing more.

No. 5: Luol Deng, Great Britain/England

2012-13 Stats: 17.7 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 2.8 APG, .7 SPG, .7 BPG, 47.1 FG%, 21.1 3P%, 78.6 FT%

Luol Deng of Great Britain has done an excellent job of picking up the offensive slack for the Chicago Bulls in Derrick Rose‘s absence. Although he’s a much better defensive player, he’s raised the level of his play when his team has needed it most.

Deng’s efficiency has never been that good, and he is turning it over more (12.6 percent) than at any point other than his rookie season. His defense, however, has been as good as ever. The Bulls are a top-five defense, and Deng’s rating of 99 is better than at any point in his career.

When Rose gets back, Deng’s offensive numbers may dip because he won’t be needed to carry the offense. His steals and assists should rise, as should his energy level, as he chases another All-Star and an All-Defensive team spot.

No. 4: Andrei Kirilenko, Russia

2012-13 Stats: 11.2 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 4.2 APG, 1.7 SPG, 2.0 BPG, 56.8 FG%, 28.6 3P%, 71.4 FT%

Andrei Kirilenko of Russia didn’t play in the NBA during the 2011-12 season, and it was anyone’s guess if he was going to come back strong. He’s erasing any doubt, as the early-season MVP of the Minnesota Timberwolves. Their record of (5-2) without Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio has been paced by awesome defense, thanks to Kirilenko.

In addition to some excellent passing, Kirilenko has adopted the role of leader and is helping teammate Alexey Shved transition to the NBA game. Kirilenko’s 16 points, 11 rebounds, two steals and two blocks helped the Timberwolves win 90-82 in Dallas on Monday night.

Even during Kirilenko’s heyday with the Utah Jazz, he’s never posted a defensive rating as good as his 95 that he boasts today. As the most experienced player on the Timberwolves, it has to feel good to lead by example on the court.

No. 3: Marc Gasol, Spain

2012-13 Stats: 14.2 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 5.2 APG, .3 SPG, 1.2 BPG, 47.6 FG%, 89.3 FT%

Marc Gasol of Spain is one of the Memphis Grizzlies best players, and he’s having one of his best seasons. As the mostly overlooked brother of Pau Gasol, he has been doing things from the center position that are unheard of.

For a center to average 5.2 assist is quite rare.

It’s happened just once since the 1985-86 season, as Vlade Divac averaged 5.3 assists in 2003-04. The last time a center shot over 89 percent from the free-throw line was Jack Sikma during the 1988-89 season, when he shot 90.5 percent.

As if those stats aren’t enough, Gasol is very efficient, as he takes only 10.5 shots per game. His offensive rating of 130 is off the charts, and his defensive rating of 100 is helping the Grizzlies to a record of (5-1), with the No. 5 offense and the No. 7 defense in the NBA.

No. 2: Nicolas Batum, France

2012-13 Stats: 19.3 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 3.2 APG, 2.7 SPG, 1.0 BPG, 43.7 FG%, 38.1 3P%, 77.4 FT%

Nicolas Batum of France has been under the radar with the Portland Trail Blazers. He’s been tremendous so far and is making Neil Olshey and the Blazers brass look awfully smart for ensuring the Minnesota Timberwolves couldn’t’ steal Batum away during the summer of 2012.

Batum is averaging career highs in points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks so far during the 2012-13 season. If James Harden continues to slide back to the rest of the pack, Batum could win the NBA’s Most Improved Player Award.

If Batum played for a high-profile team, he’d be getting a huge amount of attention. The Blazers are a bad defensive team, but Batum has been a beacon of light in an otherwise dark and unfortunate situation. With a bench so bad, Batum will continue to get big minutes and will have plenty of opportunities to impress.

No. 1: Joakim Noah, France

2012-13 Stats: 15.0 PPG, 9.2 RPG, 3.3 APG, 1.7 SPG, 2.5 BPG, 50.0 FG%, 81.3 FT%

Joakim Noah of France tops our list as the most impressive International player in the NBA during the 2012-13 season. Among regulars, he leads the Chicago Bulls in field goal percentage, rebounds, steals and blocks.

His defensive rating of 93 with 1.7 steals and 2.5 blocks is ludicrous. Those numbers would give him a spot on the All-Defensive team and a chance at Defensive Player of the Year. The Bulls have the No. 4 defense in the league, and they won’t be letting up anytime soon.

Noah has always been an above-average player, but he’s been impressive in a couple of ways that show a lot of maturity and improvement. He’s averaging the least fouls per-36 minutes of his career and the most free-throw attempts. That shows that he’s been aggressive on both ends but smart about it.


Piece originally written by HoopsHabit for Bleacher Report.

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