Aside from the GOAT conversation, one of the interesting topics in the NBA universe is the debate on who is better between International players and U.S. players. As the game becomes more global, many dominating players in the league are either born or raised outside America. Giannis Antetokounmpo names his five best international players, including himself, who could give the best five American players, in his opinion, a run for their own money.
Giannis’ 5 best international players
The Greek Freak made a guest appearance on Serge Ibaka’s show How Hungry Are You, and as expected, the discussion turned lively when the Bucks star mentioned his five best International players and five best American players and who would come on top in a hypothetical showdown.
Interesting but valid choices there for Antetokounmpo. His international picks offer a sold frontcourt of him, Joel Embiid, and Nikola Jokic, while Luka Doncic and Evan Fournier running the offense make it scarier. While others think other players are more capable than Fournier, the Frenchman plays differently in FIBA than in the NBA. Notable omissions were Rudy Gobert, Pascal Siakam, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Bogdan Bogdanovic, and Domantas Sabonis, who could all come off the bench.
Meanwhile, the 2-time MVP’s American picks were obvious ones. Although Anthony Davis, Bradley Beal, Jayson Tatum, Devin Booker, or Damian Lillard could replace all the ones on his list. Only Bam Adebayo is below 30 years old, but when matched in their prime years, there is no doubt on Giannis’ mind that his team would come on top.
Rise of international players in the NBA
Doncic, Embiid, Jokic, and Antetokounmpo are in the position to become the next face of the league, and it says how the international players have progressed over the years. Gone are the days when they are called soft and one-dimensional. Now, the last four MVP winners were all born outside the U.S., and the scarier part is the influx of talent won’t stop anytime soon.
Many front offices are now salivating at Victor Wembanyama should he be eligible for next year’s draft. The guy isn’t called the Alien for nothing since he is long, tall, agile, and has a shooter’s range. In a few years, we could see more of the likes of Victor breaking through the NBA. Antetokounmpo’s belief that International players could beat their American counterparts could still be a valid and relevant claim.