With NBA teams starting to get warmed up for the regular season tipoff, BallinEurope figured it high time to take stock of the European players prospectively set to take the court in America for 2010-11.
In considering the expanded rosters for each of the 30 NBA teams, BiE counted 50 players from The Continent plus one free agent. The asterisk here is Linas Kleiza, who carries an American passport and in fact has played organized ball in the ‘States since high school, but hey: He’s a Team Lithuania guy, so he makes this list.
A country-by-country tally produces some interesting results. France again leads all non-U.S. nations in supplying players. In fact, had Yakhouba Diawara not taken his talents out of South Beach in favor of Italia Serie A’s New Basket Brindisi, the ineffable signing of Papa Sy would have given La Republique a potential full roster of 12 NBA players.
Beyond France, another two countries could field starting lineups in the NBA: Serbia brings Nenad Krstic, Nikola Pekovic, Vladimir Radmanovic (now sporting an ultra-cool 77 on his jersey for the Golden State Warriors), Peja Stojakovic and the immortal Darko “Kahn says I’m better than Vlade Divac” Milicic. Turkey represents in America with loads of talent in Omer Asik, Semih Erden, Ersan Ilyasova, Mehmet Okur and Hedo Turkoglu.
Perhaps most shocking when considering a country-by-country comparison, however, is the stunning lack of Croatian players in the NBA: This season will mark just the second since Drazen Petrovic’s debut in 1989 that no Croatian player is on the courts of the big league.
Assuming for the nonce that the proposed four-team trade involving Carmelo Anthony, Andrei Kirilenko and Boris Diaw goes through on Monday, a club-by-club breakdown shows that a mere five teams are starting the preseason without Europeans – and just one of these, the Houston Rockets, cannot be classified as a potential bottom-feeder.
Meanwhile, those Toronto Euroraptors are seeing their dominance in hogging Continental players fade a bit – for now. Three other teams – the Mavericks, Knicks and Jazz (with or without the Carmelo trade) have four European players, surpassing the official BallinEurope NBA home team. Thanks to Rasho Nesterovic’s departure to Olympiacos, the Raps are left with just three Euro players.
There may be hope for North America’s best Euroleague team, though, as local media reports that Brezec and Kyrylo Fesenko are on a shortlist to fill a big man’s spot on the roster.
The club-by-club listing looks like the following.
NBA teams with four Europeans listed on the extended roster: Dallas Mavericks (a.k.a. France West with Alexis Ajinca, Rodrigue Beaubois and Ian Mahinmi), New York Knicks, Utah Jazz.
Three: New Jersey Nets, New Orleans Hornets, Golden State Warriors, Toronto Raptors.
Two: Atlanta Hawks, Chicago Bulls, Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Lakers, Minnesota Timberwolves, Oklahoma City Thunder, Orlando Magic, Phoenix Suns (not including Josh Childress), Portland Trail Blazers, Sacramento Kings.
One: Boston Celtics, Detroit Pistons, Memphis Grizzlies, Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks (since BiE’s no longer counting Brandon Jennings), Philadelphia 76ers, San Antonio Spurs, Washington Wizards.
Zero: Charlotte Bobcats, Cleveland Cavaliers, Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Clippers.
Finally, the country-by-country breakdown runs as follows. BiE will update these lists as the season goes on but for now, we’ve got:
Belgium (1) – D.J. Mbenga (Nuggets)
France (11) – Alexis Ajinca, Rodrigue Beaubois, Ian Mahinmi (Mavericks); Nicolas Batum (Blazers); Boris Diaw (Jazz); Tony Parker (Spurs); Johan Petro (Nets); Mickael Pietrus (Magic); Kevin Seraphin (Wizards); Papa Sy (Hawks); Ronny Turiaf (Knicks)
Georgia (1) – Zaza Pachulia (Hawks)
Germany (1) – Dirk Nowitzki (Mavericks)
Great Britain (3) – Kelenna Azubuike (Knicks); Luol Deng (Bulls); Pops Mensah-Bonsu (Hornets)
Israel (1) – Omri Casspi (Kings)
Italy (3) – Andrea Bargnani (Raptors); Marco Belinelli (Hornets); Danilo Gallinari (Knicks)
Latvia (1) – Andris Biedrins (Warriors)
Lithuania (3) – Zydrunas Ilgauskas (Heat); Linas Kleiza (Raptors); Darius Songaila (76ers)
Netherlands (2) – Francisco Elson (Jazz); Dan Gadzuric (Warriors)
Poland (1) – Marcin Gortat (Magic)
Russia (2) – Andrei Kirilenko (Nuggets); Timofey Mozgov (Knicks)
Serbia (5) – Nenad Krstic (Thunder); Darko Milicic, Nikola Pekovic (Timberwolves); Vladimir Radmanovic (Warriors); Peja Stojakovic (Hornets)
Slovenia (4) – Primoz Brezec (free agent); Goran Dragic (Suns); Beno Udrih (Kings); Sasha Vujacic (Lakers)
Spain (4) – Jose Calderon (Raptors); Rudy Fernandez (Blazers, for now); Marc Gasol (Grizzlies); Pau Gasol (Lakers)
Sweden (1) – Jonas Jerebko (Pistons)
Switzerland (1) – Thabo Sefolosha (Thunder)
Turkey (5) – Omer Asik (Bulls); Semih Erden (Celtics); Ersan Ilyasova (Bucks); Mehmet Okur (Jazz); Hedo Turkoglu (Suns)
Ukraine (1) – Kryrylo Fesenko (Jazz, restricted free agent)