Back in the day, it wasn't that usual to see foreign players make it to the NBA. I mean, there wasn't nearly half as many as there are nowadays, and they were mostly role players rather than actual superstars.
Gladly, this trend is no more. International players continue to take their talents to the best basketball league on the planet, proving that this beautiful game knows no borders or boundaries.
Foreign players have stepped up big time over the past couple of years. As a matter of fact, in the last three years, the NBA MVP and Defensive Player of the Year winners have all come from Europe.
Giannis Antetokounmpo took home the MVP award in 2019 and 2020 before Nikola Jokic won it this year, while Rudy Gobert was named Defensive Player of the Year in 2019 and 2021, and Giannis won the award in 2020.
Also, if you consider Joakim Noah a French player and you add Marc Gasol into the mix, then 6 of the past 10 Defensive Player of the Year winners have been European players.
We see players like Luka Doncic, Bogdan Bogdanovic, or Kristaps Porzingis make a lot of money and put up big numbers for their respective teams, even if multiple scouts weren't that sold on them in the first place.
This speaks volumes about how the perception of foreign players has changed around the league. We no longer hear those poor takes of "not athletic enough, slow, poor defender" and young international players.
Basketball continues to change and evolve and so do the players. Hopefully, this will continue to inspire young players from all over the world to pursue their dreams of becoming professional hoopers and playing at the biggest stage on Earth.