Players coming from foreign countries is becoming more and more common as time goes on. Teams like the Spurs are most notable for acquiring this type of talent, with players like Manu Ginobli and Tony Parker being so good for them for so long. In fact, the entire Spurs dynasty was majorly because of the foreign players next to Tim Duncan. More and more scouts are beginning to head overseas to find talent, hoping they can strike gold.
The most improved player this season will be awarded to either Giannis Antetokounmpo or Nikola Jokic. If you can’t tell by their names, they are overseas talent who have turned out to be huge steals for the teams that drafted them. This recent success of foreign players has made a boom in draft stock for current overseas guys hoping to hear their name called on draft night. About a decade ago, most foreign players, unless they are Dirk-level, fall to late first round or second round, no matter how much talent they have.
The problem with foreign players becoming so popular is the same with college players. Some of these guys’ talent will not transfer to the NBA and they will become bust. Now, if you are above 6’10 and you can shoot, you will probably be taken in the top ten just because of how rare you are. That should not always be the case. Today, I will be looking at 15 different countries, and I will be listing the worst player from each country. Enjoy!
15. Canada- Anthony Bennett
It must be pretty surprising to see a number one overall pick on here, right? The Canadian flop of a draft pick was one of this biggest mistakes in Cleveland Cavalier history. After LeBron left, the Cavaliers were terrible. This led to many high draft selections, including the one for Kyrie Irving or Andrew Wiggins. They drafted relatively well, except for the selection of Anthony Bennett. In a some-what weak draft class, Bennett slid to the top selection by showing his strength and dominance in college. Needless to say, it did not transfer over to the NBA. Bennett has had stints with the Cavaliers, Timberwolves, Raptors, and Nets where he didn’t even average more than one point a night. In case you can’t tell, playing for 4 different teams in 4 straight years to start your career is not a good start.
14. Germany- Paul Zipser
Being at the young age of 22, Paul Zipser can easily get his name off this list in the near future. For right now however, Zipser is the worst active player from Germany. Paul began his professional career in 2010, where he was only 16 years old! He has had a lot of time to develop, so it was a little disappointing to see Zipser not get a solid spot in the rotation. Being a second round pick, Paul can be a steal if he can build out a nice role with this Chicago squad. He’s a pretty good shooter, and a tenacious rebounder even though he is only a shooting guard. Zipser spent some time in the D-League this season, showing that the Bulls are quite committed to developing him into a major role on the team. If Ziper works hard this summer, it would not be a surprise to see him getting a stable bench role with the team.
13. France- Alexis Ajinca
Alexis Ajinca has been in the league since 2008, and he has been with the New Orleans Pelicans since 2013. The 7’1 center doesn’t have much going for him other than his size, and he is a kind of lazy rebounder at that. Starting in many games for the last 4 years, you would expect him to average more than four and a half rebounds per game. Alexis actually didn’t even play NBA basketball from 2011-13, where he played overseas for the SIG Strasbourg. This last season, Alexis has played a back up center role for the New Orleans Pelicans. Injuries held Ajinca to only playing in 39 games, starting 15 of them where he averaged 5 points per game. With all the focus on Anthony Davis, Alexis should be able to get easy scores around the rim. For some reason, Alexis just can’t shoot very well ar
12. Serbia- Nemanja Bjelica
Nemanja Bjelica actually has a pretty good jump-shot for a power forward. Being able to stretch the floor is a valuable tool for any big man, and it is especially valuable for the Minnesota Timberwolves type of offense. Nemanja is one of the only few active players from Serbia, with him being the worst. Bjelica has had issues with staying healthy, not playing in more than 65 games in both seasons. When he is on the floor, Bjelica can actually have a good impact for the young Minnesota team’s bench. Although some scouts have said Nemanja has poor stamina getting up and down the court, Nemanja looks relatively fast given his size. Nemanja Bjelica should keep his bench role on the Timberwolves’s squad and continue to prosper as a long range dead-eye.
11. Croatia- Mario Hezonja
Mario Hezonja has been extremely disappointing for Magic fans after being drafted with the fifth overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft. The Orlando Magic thought they had drafted the next Manu Ginobli when in reality, they just picked up a Draft bust from Coatia. What often happens with overseas talent is that they play very well in the Euro-league, but their game does not translate to the NBA. This appears to be what is happening with Mario. Showing great athleticism, size, and shooting overseas, he looked like a top-ten pick. Once Mario made it to the league, he shot poorly and couldn’t compete with NBA talent. Being only 21, Mario still has a lot of time to grow. Hezonja just failed to live up to the hype of a top 5 pick in the NBA.
10. Spain- Sergio Rodriguez
Sergio Rodriguez has just recently returned to the NBA, and he has been mildly disappointing. The Spanish point guard signed with the 76ers in the hope of revitalizing his career in Philadelphia. Sergio spent almost all of his prime overseas with the Real Madrid basketball team, where he was very successful as a starting point guard. After being drafted in the first round and playing for the Portland Trailblazers, Sergio spent his last season for a couple different teams. Spending six years in Spain, Rodriguez saw an opportunity in Philadelphia. Sergio didn’t play terribly in Philly, but he wasn’t starter worthy. He has great vision on the court, but he makes his share of mistakes as well. Expect Sergio Rodriguez to remain on the 76ers bench, or find a role with another team as the back-up ball handler.
9. Brazil- Bruno Caboclo
The Brazilian Kevin Durant was his nickname when he was drafted with the 20th overall selection in the 2014 NBA Draft. It is fair to say he hasn’t lived up to the crazy expectations just yet. In Bruno’s three seasons in the NBA, he has appeared in only 23 games! 23. Not to mention he has only averaged four minutes in those 23 games. Caboclo is only 21, but he already has a murky future in Toronto. They have kept him for this long, so obviously they see some potential in the kid. He is a good three point shooter for his size, which is where the comparisons to Kevin Durant come from. To his credit, he did play something that resembled KD while he was in Brazil. Since then, he has shown some flashes playing the d-league. The team he played for even won the D-League Championships. Congratulations Bruno!
8. Australia- Matthew Dellavedova
Australia deserves some credit. They have developed some quite good professional basketball players. Matthew Dellavedova just so happens to be the worst on the list, and he is still a serviceable point guard for the Milwaukee Bucks. He has also won a championship ring with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Coming into the league as a un-drafted free agent, Matthew really made his mark in the 2015 NBA Playoffs. He got in fights with players like Taj Gibson and Al Horford, and he even broke Kyle Korver’s foot in the Eastern Conference Finals. People credit this to his scrappy play, and he is known for diving after loose balls. Dellavedova played very good in the NBA Finals after Kyrie Irving went down, however they still lost. Matthew Dellavedova has been a good point guard in this league, and he should continue to be a decent floor runner for the Bucks.
7. Argentina- Pablo Prigioni
Pablo Prigioni has had a weird career, seeing that he was a rookie at 35 years old. Prigioni spent most of his career playing for Baskonia, a Spanish euro-league team. Once he made it to the league in 2012, he was the oldest rookie of all time. As a rookie, he didn’t do a bad job of being the Knick’s back-up point guard. He continued to play with them for 3 seasons before jumping to Western Conference contender teams to try and win a championship. His most recent team was with the Los Angeles Clippers, where he backed up Chris Paul, and where he even started three games after Paul went down. Pablo retired in January, and even though that technically excludes him from the list, I thought he had an interesting career as the worst player from Argentina.
6. Bosnia and Herzegovina- Ivica Zubac
Ivica Zubac is a young player for the Los Angeles Lakers, and he has shown flashes of a starting center. Zubac was selected with the 32nd overall pick this past NBA Draft, and he played for the Summer League that summer. Zubac has had some pretty good games in the Purple and Gold in the last half of the season. He is a good shot blocker, averaging a block in only 16 minutes per game. He has some nice post moves, having two games where he scored 20 points or more. Ivica did all of this while only starting in 11 games. The 7’1 center could be the future starting center to complete the line-up possibility of Lonzo Ball(?), D’Angelo Russell, Brandon Ingram, Julius Randle, and Ivica Zubac. Talk about a scary line-up for the future. With guys like Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance on the bench, the Lakers will be feared soon, and Zubac might be along for the ride.
5. Lithuania- Donatas Motiejunas
Donatas Motiejunas is a modern-day power forward. He can take it in the paint or stretch the floor with his three-ball. The 7-foot power forward was originally drafted with the 20th overall pick by the Minnesota Timberwolves before being traded to the Houston Rockets. The Rockets got the pretty good power forward for four years of production, before his back problems led to an end in Houston. Once Motiejunas left town, he found a new team in the New Orleans Pelicans. Only playing in 34 games, his back issues still lingered, and it could create an early exit out of the league. When healthy, Donatas is a very valuable power forward who can use his size to get in the paint and also space the floor with his shooting.
4. Senegal- Maurice Ndour
Maurice Ndour. a un-drafted free agent, had quite a uneventful season playing for the New York Knicks. He only appeared in 32 games, and in those 32 games Ndour played an average of only 10 minutes. Maurice had a pretty good career for the Ohio Bobcats, where he played basketball for 2 seasons. After not making it in the league his first season, Ndour signed a one year contract with Real Madrid, where he played in 12 games. This past off-season, the 6’9 power forward finally got his shot in the league when he signed a one-year deal with the New York Knicks. His slow start to his career has helped solidify his spot as the worst player from Senegal. Ndour should continue to be a role player given his abilities.
3. Slovenia- Sasha Vujacic
Sasha Vujacic has had quite the established career for someone on this list, but the title of worst player in Slovenia still fits him. The shooting guard has been a role player for most of his career, and he won two championships for the dominant Los Angeles Lakers playing in that role behind Kobe Bryant. Vujacic’s best season undoubtedly came with the New Jersey Nets, where he played a career high 26 minutes a game. Here he was able to display his shooting capabilities. After spending some of his prime overseas, Sasha returned to have stints with the Clippers and Knicks, where he has unimpressed so far. Sasha is nearing the end of his career, but his shooting touch and veteran presence may keep him in the league a little longer.
2. Nigeria- Festus Ezeli
Festus Ezeli is truly a pretty good center who has the potential to start, but his knees just won’t let him show off his true talents. Ezeli was good for the Golden State Warriors since he was drafted in 2012. Once Festus took his talents to Portland, Ezeli couldn’t even see the court because of his injuries. After the Trailblazer GM said that Festus won’t be on the team next season, it might be hard for the 6’11 center to find a new home in the NBA. The center missed a season with the Warriors too, making it risky for anyone to sign the center. If Festus can fix his knees, expect him to find a team a play a nice reserve role where he can protect the rim and finish pick and rolls.
1. Russia- Timofey Mozgov
Timofey Mozgov is a pretty happy man considering how much money he basically stole from the Los Angeles Lakers this past off-season. The Lakers payed Timofey Mozgov a 4 year, 64 Million Dollar Contract. With money like that, he must have done something amazing, right? Actually quite the opposite. Timofey lost his starting spot on the Cleveland Cavaliers to Tristan Thompson. He didn’t even play in the 2016 NBA Finals. Timofey is a big center who can bang in the paint and collect rebounds. That’s about it. The center became the first Russian to A) Play in the NBA Finals, and B) Win a NBA Championship. Congratulations on holding those records Timofey, however, you are still the worst current Russian player on an NBA roster.
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