The NBA quietly surpassed an important milestone for international talent this season. For the first time ever, more than 20 percent of the league's minutes during the regular season were played by athletes born and raised outside the United States. That means, on average, one of the five players on the court for any team at any given time was an import.
The international influence certainly could be seen in this year's NBA Finals. Of all the players who had seen playing time for the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors, six were raised outside the U.S.: Cleveland's Matthew Dellavedova, Timofey Mozgov and Tristan Thompson and Golden State's Leandro Barbosa, Andrew Bogut and Festus Ezeli. And that's not counting Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving (born in Australia, where his American father was playing basketball), injured center Anderson Varejao or deep Warriors reserve Ognjen Kuzmic.
And with three of the likely top 10 picks in this month's NBA draft born outside the United States, there is no reason to expect the trend toward international talent to reverse any time soon.