As you know there have been a myriad of foreign born players to come over through the years. They have come in droves since the early 2000s. Some have panned out while others have bottomed out because of high expectations. These players come from a wide range of countries across the world. Also, they differ from high draft picks in the first round to a low mid-range picks in the first round of the NBA draft.
Foreign born players are good for the NBA’s infusion of talent. These set of players have not lived up to expectations. They had too much hype for their own good and therefore had a very bad career. Also, these players suffered many humiliating times during their time in the league. These players were dunked on, ridiculed by other players, and were flat out horrible during the span of their careers in the NBA.
These players began their influx into the league around this time or a little before. The problem with these players mainly is that they just never became what others thought they would be. Some of these players were hyped up so much, while others started out bad and became worse. Most of these players have fizzled out, some have found a way to stay in the NBA. Sometimes even when you are bad, you find a way to stay in the NBA.
15 Hasheem Thabeet
He was drafted second overall by the Memphis Grizzles in 2009 and was compared by many to Dikembe Mutombo for his shot blocking ability. He only averaged 0.8 block per game for his career. Also, Thabeet only averaged 2.2 points and 2.7 rebounds throughout his seven seasons in the NBA.
Despite being drafted so high out of Connecticut, he failed to live up to the expectations and was out of the league by 2014. He was fortunate enough to play with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook in his last two seasons in the league, making four appearances in the 2013 Playoffs.
Thabeet is currently playing for Mighty Sports in Philippines and has not given up on returning to the NBA. At 30 years old, it seems unlikely especially with the way the game has changed in recent years.
14 Wang Zhizhi
Wang was one of the best players in China before he was drafted by the Mavericks. The Mavs took Wang during the second round of the 1999 draft though he did not come to the NBA until 2001. He eventually fit the mold of most foreign born players that come over: no post game.
Wang was about seven foot tall and 240 pounds but could not take the physical pounding of the NBA. Despite all Wang's hype coming in, he only averaged 4.4 point 1.7 rebounds and 0.3 blocks. He went on to play for the Los Angeles Clippers and Miami Heat before returning to China. He was able to enjoy some good years there before he retired in 2016.
13 Frederic Weis
Frederic Weis was the most humiliated of the worst foreign born players. He was selected by the Knicks as the 15th pick of the 1999 NBA draft. Weis was a 7’2 Frenchman that the Knicks blew a pick on. He's mostly known for being dunked on by Vince Carter during the 2000 Summer Olympics.
Although Weis was 7'2, he never played a single game in the NBA. Weis finally retired at age 33 on March 10, 2011. His knee problems finally did him in though he only averaged 1.6 points and 2.7 rebounds with French club Limongues.
By selecting Weis, the Knicks had passed on Ron Artest, who was drafted with the next pick by the Chicago Bulls—a decision that still angers Knicks fans to this day.
12 D.J. Mbenga
There's not much you can say about him except he was just really bad at basketball. The most famous thing he is remembered for is being a 'meme' during his Lakers days, before 'memes' even became a thing.
During Mbenga's journeymen career, he averaged 1.8 points 1.5 rebounds and 0.6 blocks. Mbenga bounced around the league for most of his career jumping from the Lakers to the Mavericks, as well as the New Orleans Hornets. D.J. Mbenga is a two-time NBA Champion, having been apart of the back-to-back winning Lakers in 2009 and 2010.
11 Yi Jianlian
He was supposed to be another Yao Ming-like Chinese sensation but never amounted to anything as a player. Yi was the sixth round pick in the 2007 by the Milwaukee Bucks. He jumped around the NBA and only played for five years in the NBA. Yi had even more injury problems than player he was compared to.
His best season came in 2009-10 with the New Jersey Nets, averaging 12 points and seven boards. For his career, he averaged 7.9 points 0.7 assists and 4.9 rebounds per game. Yi just returned to the NBA with the Lakers this past fall, but eventually asked for his release to get more playing time elsewhere.
10 Nikoloz Tskitishvili
The Nuggets dumbfounded everyone when they took Nikoloz with the 5th pick of the 2002 draft. They passed on a wide range of NBA players that are in the league. He was in the mold of the seven-foot Euro players with a jump shot but no post game.
Before being drafted he was a big led Mike Antoni’s Italian team to championship averaging 6.6 per 19. He averaged 2.9 points 1.9 assists and 0.9 rebounds. Despite being drafted so high by the Nuggets he only played four years in the NBA. He was one of highest drafted foreign born players that did not pan out in the NBA.
9 Sasha Vujacic
He was drafted 27th overall by the Lakers in 2004, where he would remain in 2010. Vujacic is mainly known by the Lakers as a three-point specialist though he was very inconsistent. He won two titles with the Lakers during two postseason runs but he only shot 31 percent from behind the line.
He just returned to the NBA this past year and he is playing with the New York Knicks. It seems like Phil Jackson just loves the guy, for reasons unknown to all of us. He will likely be out of the NBA once again after this season.
8 Vassilis Spanoulis
He was hyped up as the European Kobe by many NBA scouts. The buyout process took forever to bring him over to the Houston Rockets. Before he came to the Houston Rockets he averaged around 11.1 points and 3.4 rebounds per game in Europe.
Spanoulis was seen as aggressive, one who pushed the floor well, shoot the ball from a decent clip, and apt to drive the ball while playing in Europe. He was tall for a point guard, standing at 6'4 195 pounds.
He averaged 2.9 points 0.9 assists and 0.7 rebounds for his career. After he finally made the rotation and was criticized by Jeff Van Gundy, then he fled back to Europe.
7 Jerome Moiso
The Frenchmen is one of the long line of foreign born big men to not break through the NBA ranks. Moiso was 6'10 250 pound Frenchmen out of UCLA. Despite being the 11th overall pick by Boston in 2000 he only played five years in the NBA. Moiso was a journeyman for 15 NBA teams and could not find a spot in the league.
He ended up averaging 2.7 points 2.7 rebounds and 0.5 blocks for his career. In his only postseason appearance with New Orleans in the 2002 and 2003 season he averaged 5.8 points.
6 Mamadou N’ Diaye
His college career was great because he broke Charles Barkley’s career blocks record. N' Diaye was 7'5 310 pounds out of UC Irvine with so much potential in the NBA before he fizzed out. He was rated the #34 player in draft before he was taken 26th by Denver in the first round. The Nuggets used their second- round pick on N’Diaye in 2001 but he was traded to Denver 2001 and never played a game in the NBA.
Despite being such a highly rated pick, he only played five years in the NBA. N' Diaye averaged 3.8 points 3.3 rebounds and 0.9 blocks for his career. He's not to be confused with another Mamadou N'Diaye who was born in 1993.
5 Slava Medvedenko
Slava bounced around on a lot of teams in the league because of his height at 6'10. The best season he had was in 2001 when he averaged eight points and five boards in 2001 while playing minutes for the injured Karl Malone.
Despite his potential and status as a journeyman player, he only played seven years in the NBA. Slava averaged 5.3 points 2.8 rebounds and 0.2 blocks for his career. Slava was always a rotational player in the league but could never develop any consistency in one specific area.
He's mostly known these days for crying when Kobe Bryant told him to get a new career. Poor guy.
4 Jake Tsakalidis
The Suns selected Tsakalidis with the 25th pick of the 2000 draft to give Jason Kidd a low post threat. 2000 draft was one of the worst ever. Tsakalidis could never establish himself in the NBA and in his best season he averaged 7.3 points to go along with 5.3 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks.
The hype of playing next to Jason Kidd ultimately led to his demise and his career. Despite his high draft status and height, he only played seven years in the NBA. He would go on to play for the Phoenix Suns, Memphis Grizzlies and Houston Rockets. It's likely that most people won't remember him, and we don't blame them.
3 Primoz Brezec
Primoz was drafted 27th overall by the Pacers but sat on the bench for most of his career before getting picked up by the Bobcats. At 7'1 265, most people in the NBA thought Premoz would be a dominant big man.
He turned out to be another foreign big man that burned out in the NBA. One year with the Bobcats he averaged 13.0 points and 7.4 rebounds but he would never reach those levels again.
He ended up averaging 7.2 points 3.9 rebounds and 0.4 blocks per game for his career. Despite being a first round pick Brezec only played eight years in the NBA ending this foreigner's dreams of being another dominant big man.
2 Rafael Araujo
He was drafted 8th overall by the Toronto Raptors in 2004. Araujo barely even played with the Raptors averaging 2.8 points 2.8 rebounds and 1.4 blocks. Araujo was a Brazilian born big man out of BYU. The most points he scored was on April 11, 2007 when he scored eight points against the Houston Rockets.
Araujo was never able to get any significant playing time with the Raptors. He was stuck on the bench for most of his career. The Raptors passed on some good players to pick up Araujo, including Andre Iguodala. It was just one of the many bad draft picks that the Raptors had made during that period of time.
1 Darko Milicic
Darko was one of Joe Dumars’ worst picks ever. He was drafted second overall by the Pistons in the 2003 NBA Draft. Pistons would passed on Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade, who were drafted immediately after Darko. Detroit went on to win the NBA championship in his rookie season. During his career, Milicic only averaged 6.0 points 4.2 rebounds and 1.3 blocks despite being a top pick.
He came into the NBA with so much hype but ended up being a journeyman type player. He played in the NBA for nearly 10 years until 2012 when he left the league. After his retirement, he signed to be a kick boxer since his NBA career did not pan out.
Darko's legacy is being nicknamed "Human Victory Cigar" by Rasheed Wallace as he only played during blowout games.
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