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From the hills of New Zealand to the African desert to tropical South America – and everywhere in between – basketball continues to grow as a global sport.
That’s no more apparent than in the NBA, the world’s premier basketball league, where more than 100 non-American players suited up for the official start of training camp on Tuesday.
To start the 2012-13 season, a record 84 players were on NBA rosters from 37 different countries. This season could surpass both of those numbers, as NBA training camps feature 104 players from 40 different countries.
So, who are these guys?
We looked at every international player in the NBA and analyzed their place in the NBA this year. They range from household names like Dirk Nowitzki and Manu Ginobili, to training camp hopefuls adored in their home countries, such as Sudan’s Mac Koshwal of the Philadelphia 76ers and Angola’s Carlos Morais of the Toronto Raptors.
France boasts the most NBA players with 10, and Canada is right behind with nine players, including 2013 top pick Anthony Bennett.
We used each player’s FIBA affiliation rather than their birth place, as the two don’t always match up. Cleveland Cavaliers star Kyrie Irving, for example, was born in Australia, but he plays for Team USA, so he’s not included here. But Chicago’s Joakim Noah, who was born in New York, counts for France because that’s the country he plays for internationally.
And if you see a discrepancy or a mistake, please don’t hesitate to point it out – players are constantly switching teams and country allegiances. This is as up-to-date as we could make it by Oct. 1, the official start of NBA training camp.
After each player’s details is a projected NBA role for this season, ranging from project (meaning he may not make the final roster) to superstar (one of the league’s 15 best players), and then a paragraph analysis of his current place in the league.
Pero Antic, Macedonia, 31, PF/C, 6-11/260, reserve
The NBA’s oldest rookie, Antic has proven to be a versatile player in the international game. He’ll compete to crack the back end of Atlanta’s relatively deep big-man rotation.
Gustavo Ayon, Mexico, 28, PF/C, 6-10/250, reserve
After an impressive summer leading Mexico to the championship game of the FIBA Americas, the NBA journeyman will work for scrap minutes in a crowded Atlanta backcourt.
Al Horford, Dominican Republic, 27, PF/C, 6-10, 250, star
A shoulder injury derailed his 2012-13 season, but Horford should once again lead the Hawks with his polished play on both ends of the floor. He’ll adjust to playing with new paint-mate Paul Millsap.
Dennis Schroder, Germany, 19, PG, 6-1/168, rotation
Hawks think they got a steal at No. 17 in this year’s draft. Schroder’s frenetic game is mature for his age, and some scouts see him as a star in the making. He’ll log minutes behind starter Jeff Teague this year.
Vitor Faverani, Brazil, 25, PF/C, 6-11/235, reserve
“El Hombre Indestructible,” recently signed to a 3-year deal, and will have a chance to earn minutes this season for the rebuilding Celtics, but he’ll need to improve his defensive understanding.
Kelly Olynyk, Canada, 22, PF/C, 7-0/238, prospect
Celtics covet the 2013 No. 13 pick, whose scoring ability should translate to the NBA. He’ll struggle on defense, but the lottery-bound Celtics will live with that this season.
Andrei Kirilenko, Russia, 32, F, 6-9/235, sixth man
The Nets have title aspirations, and they’ll need Kirilenko’s versatility off the bench – he’s the team’s best wing defender – to have a chance. Kirilenko won’t start but will play big minutes.
Tornike Shengelia, Georgia, 21, F, 6-9/240, prospect
Shengelia underwent knee surgery in July and spent his offseason rehabbing. After spending much of last season in the D-League, he’ll likely do the same this year for the win-now Nets.
Mirza Teletovic, Yugoslavia, 27, PF, 6-9/255, reserve
A strong international player and 2012 mid-level exception signing, Teletovic never found his confidence or consistent minutes with the Nets. With so many new faces in town, that’s unlikely to change this year.
Bismack Biyombo, DR Congo, 21, C, 6-9/245, starter
His strong defense and rebounding skills are likely to improve with another year, and practicing and playing next to polished post-scorer Al Jefferson won’t hurt Biyombo’s still-developing offensive game.
Jeff Taylor, Sweden, 24, SF, 6-7/225, rotation
While far less heralded than No. 2 overall pick Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Taylor was the Bobcats’ best wing defender last season. The second-year Taylor will continue to earn glue minutes for Charlotte this season.
Luol Deng, United Kingdom, 28, SF, 6-9/220, star
As the Bulls’ best defender, Deng is tasked with guarding guys like LeBron James, Paul Pierce and Carmelo Anthony on a nightly basis. It’s a contract year for Deng, as talks with the Bulls about an extension broke down in September.
Joakim Noah, France, 28, C, 6-11/235, star
Fresh off his first all-star appearance, Noah’s defense, rebounding and overall energy – as well as his underrated ball skills on offense – are essential to the Bulls’ success.
Anthony Bennett, Canada, 20, F, 6-8/240, prospect
The Cavs surprisingly took Bennett No. 1 in June’s NBA Draft because of his unique blend of size and scoring ability. He’ll have to work for his minutes, though, as the Cavs are jammed at power forward and Bennett will certainly struggle initially on defense.
Sergey Karasev, Russia, 19, G/F, 6-7/203, prospect
Karasev missed summer league to compete for Russia at the World University Games, where he earned MVP honors. He has NBA skills, but his still-developing body isn’t ready for NBA action yet.
Tristan Thompson, Canada, 22, PF, 6-9/227, starter
He bizarrely switched his free-throw shooting hand from right to left this offseason, but it seems to have worked: He shot 78 percent in international play. Thompson hopes to make another jump this year after showing much improvement in his second season.
Anderson Varejao, Brazil, 30, PF/C, 6-11/260, starter
In the last three seasons, Varejao has played in just 81 games – while missing 149. He’s a valuable role player, and he’s been cleared for training camp, but his health is an always-lingering concern.
Jose Calderon, Spain, 32, PG, 6-3/211, starter
The Mavs paid the Spaniard upwards of $30 million for a 4-year contract this summer because of his stabilizing presence at point guard. He’s efficient and distributes the ball well, two traits that are especially valuable when paired next to new teammate Monta Ellis at shooting guard.
Samuel Dalembert, Haiti/Canada, 32, C, 6-11/250, starter
Dalembert will be tasked with the defensive role Tyson Chandler filled for the Mavericks in their 2010-11 championship season, and at a minimal contract, he’s a good value. With the Mavericks’ deep bench, they can be easy with the 32-year-old’s minutes.
Gal Mekel, Isreal, 25, PG, 6-3/190, prospect
Just the second Israeli-born player to join the NBA, Mekel signed a 3-year guaranteed deal with Dallas this summer. He’ll mix it up with fellow rookies Shane Larkin and Ricky Ledo for the scrap point guard minutes.
Fab Melo, Brazil, 23, C, 7-0/255, project
It’s highly unlikely Melo makes the final roster for the Mavericks, who have a relatively crowded backcourt and no available roster spots.
Dirk Nowitzki, Germany, 35, PF, 7-0/245, superstar
After an injury-plagued, playoffs-less season, Nowitzki – the greatest European to ever wear an NBA jersey -- is back to full strength entering this season. Even at his advanced age, he’s one of the greatest scorers in the league, and he should see less double teams with Monta Ellis in town.
Evan Fournier, France, 20, SG, 6-6/200, role player
With Andre Iguodala and Corey Brewer gone, there’s opportunity for Fournier to break out for the fast-paced Nuggets. The sharp-shooter is expected to compete with Randy Foye to start at shooting guard for the Nuggets.
Danilo Gallinari, Italy, 25, F, 6-10/225, starter
Recovering from an ACL tear, Gallinari will miss all of training camp and the early portion of the season. When healthy, he’s a versatile scorer from inside and outside, but knee injuries are always unpredictable.
Timofey Mozgov, Russia, 27, C, 7-1/250, rotation
The Nuggets showed faith in Mozgov when they dealt Kosta Koufus to Memphis this summer. Mozgov skipped EuroBasket this year to focus on his new role in Denver, where he’ll be backing up JaVale McGee at center.
Luigi Datome, Italy, 25, SF, 6-8/215, prospect
He outplayed Italian teammate and NBA veteran Marco Bellinelli at EuroBasket, and after signing a two-year deal with Detroit, hopes to break into the Pistons’ rotation this season. He’s the reigning MVP of Lega Basket Serie A, Italy’s top basketball league.
Jonas Jerebko, Sweden, 26, F, 6-10/230, reserve
Jerebko’s minutes have decreased every year since starting 73 games as a rookie in 2009-10. And he was outright benched last season. Much of that was because the Pistons have improved around him, and with Josh Smith in town, sparse minutes are a real possibility again this year.
Golden State Warriors
Andrew Bogut, Australia, 28, C, 7-0/260, starter
Bogut said he feels “100 percent” heading into training camp, and his health is essential to the Warriors’ success. They hope to contend for a championship this year, and they need his dominant defense at the rim against the West’s best squads.
Festus Ezeli, Nigeria, 23, C, 6-11/255, reserve
A torn ACL suffered last season will keep Ezeli sidelined until at least until midseason. If he returns healthy enough to contribute, he’ll battle for backup frontcourt minutes with Jermaine O’Neal and Draymond Green.
Ognjen Kuzmic, Serbia, 23, C, 7-1/231, prospect
Kuzmic, who refused to play for his berth-country, Bosnia at EuroBasket, signed with the Warriors this year after six seasons in Europe. He’ll be a deep reserve for the Warriors, who have title aspirations.
Nemanja Nedovic, Serbia, 22, G, 6-3/195,
The “European Derrick Rose,” as some call him because of his athleticism and similar physique, hopes to bring some energy off the bench. He played well for Serbia at EuroBasket 2013, including a 17-point showing against Tony Parker and France.
Omer Asik, Turkey, 27, C, 7-0/255, rotation
Reportedly upset when the Rockets signed Dwight Howard in free agency, Asik is one of the hottest names on the rumor mill and could be traded before February. Until then, he’ll back up Howard to form the best center rotation in the NBA, and maybe play a little power forward opposite Howard.
Omri Casspi, Israel, 25, SF, 6-9/225, rotation
The Rockets signed Casspi as shooting depth to surround their ball-dominating stars, but his shooting has worsened every year of his career, and he struggled at EuroBasket 2013 for Israel. The Rockets have a knack, though, for utilizing players who were underperforming elsewhere.
Francisco Garcia, Dominican Republic, 32, G/F, 6-7/195, reserve
Garcia is a veteran presence who can knock down open shots at both wing positions. And as he showed at times in this year’s FIBA Americas, he can still score when called upon. For the contending Rockets, though, he’ll mostly be a practice body.
Donatas Motiejunas, Lithuania, 23, C, 7-0/225, prospect
It would’ve been nice to play more minutes, but EuroBasket was a nice experience for D-Mo, as his Lithuanian team fell to France in the championship game. With the Rockets’ power forward position wide open, Motiejunas will look to break into the frontcourt rotation alongside Dwight Howard and Omer Asik.
Ian Mahinmi, France, 26, C, 6-11/230, rotation
Like last season, Mahinmi will soak up the backup minutes behind Roy Hibbert, although newcomer Luis Scola may cut into that time. Mahinmi, who skipped EuroBasket this year, showed improvement defensively last season under coach Frank Vogel, and he’s blossomed from NBA fringer to serviceable backup big man.
Luis Scola, Argentina, 33, PF, 6-9/245, rotation
Scola was the only major NBA player to attend the FIBA Americas, and he led Argentina to the semifinals before losing to Mexico. Now he’ll focus his attention on Indiana, a team he joined this summer in hopes of contending for a ring. The crafty Scola will come off the bench behind David West and Roy Hibbert.
Los Angeles Lakers
Eric Boateng, United Kingdom, 27, C, 6-10/260, project
After spending last season in Germany and the year before in Greece, Boateng received a training camp invite to Los Angeles. He’s a long shot, at best, to make the final roster. At EuroBasket, his Great Britain squad didn’t make it out of pool play.
Dan Gadzuric, Netherlands, 35, C, 6-11/240, project
Signed the day before training camp, the NBA journeyman will almost certainly not make the Lakers’ final roster. He’s spent the last three seasons between the D-League, China, Venezuela and short-sting NBA signings.
Pau Gasol, Spain, 33, F/C, 7-0/250, star
With Kobe Bryant recovering from a knee injury, the Lakers will depend on Gasol’s offense more than ever before. Even at 33, he’s one of the most-skilled big men in the NBA. He skipped EuroBasket to ensure his health for the Lakers, and they’re going to need it if they want to keep their playoff streak alive.
Elias Harris, Germany, 24, F, 6-8/240, prospect
After playing well at summer league for the Lakers, the undrafted rookie earned a roster invite from the Lakers. Only $100,000 of his contract is guaranteed, but that could give him an edge over the slew of other roster hopefuls at the Lakers’ training camp.
Steve Nash, Canada, 39, PG, 6-3/180, starter
Long retired from international play, Canada’s GOAT will give it another go with the Lakers after a rather disastrous 2012-13 season. Nash can still produce when healthy – he mostly wasn’t last season – and the Lakers will need his playmaking, especially with Kobe Bryant recovering from knee injury.
Robert Sacre, Canada, 24, C, 7-0/260, reserve
The last overall pick in the 2012 draft, Sacre bounced between the Lakers and their D-League affiliate, the Los Angeles D-Fenders, last season. But with Dwight Howard headed to Houston, the Lakers signed Sacre to a 3-year deal this summer and expect him to garner some playing time.
Nick Calathes, Greece, 24, G, 6-6/213, prospect
After leaving college early to play in Greece – although still garnering a second-round NBA draft choice by the Mavericks – Calathes will finally join the NBA this season. While firmly behind Mike Conley on the depth chart, Calathes’ blend of size and stat-filling ability could earn him the backup point guard role over Jerryd Bayless.
Marc Gasol, Spain, 28, C, 7-1/265, star
Gasol was named NBA Defensive Player of the Year last season and made the EuroBasket all-tournament team this summer. He’s entering his prime as a premier defender, an all-around contributor and one of the world’s best big men. He led the Grizzlies to a franchise-high 56 wins last season – and expectations are high again.
Kosta Koufos, Greece, 24, C, 7-0/265, rotation
The Ohio-born Koufos put together his best season as a pro last season for Denver, starting 81 games and helping Denver to the playoffs. This year, after foregoing EuroBasket this summer, he’ll back up Marc Gasol and perhaps play a little power forward with Gasol up high or down low.
Joel Anthony, Canada, 31, C, 6-9/245, reserve
While hardly spectacular, Anthony has carved out a niche for himself as a hard-working, off-the-bench complement to Miami’s staple of scorers. A quality locker room guy, he’ll groom and push incoming big man Greg Oden, while continuing to play minutes with the second unit.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, Greece, 18, G/F, 6-9/205, prospect
The “Greek freak” rose from obscurity to a mid-first round draft pick because of the potential he displayed in Greece’s second-tier league last season. The Bucks signed him to a rookie-scale contract, so he’ll spend this year on the Bucks’ bench, though the competition jump from A2 to the NBA is as wide as his wingspan.
Carlos Delfino, Argentina, 31, G/F, 6-6/230, sixth man
A valuable contributor for the Rockets last season, Delfino’s dependable outside game joins a crowded Milwaukee perimeter. He’s a glue guy, and at a reasonable $3.25 million salary, he’s also a trade asset if things go South for the Bucks.
Ersan Ilyasova, Turkey, 26, 6-10/235, starter
With an influx of foreign talent joining Milwaukee’s roster – including free agents Zaza Pachulia and Carlos Delfino – Ilyasova is the only foreign-born player left from last year. His Turkey team went 1-4 at EuroBasket, but his 21 points led Turkey over Sweden for its only victory of the tournament.
Zaza Pachulia, Georgia, 29, 6-11/275, rotation
The Bucks’ signing of Pachulia this summer was a bit puzzling after they just paid Larry Sanders and Eryan Ilyasova in subsequent offseasons, but there’s no doubt Pachulia brings energy and savvy to any frontcourt. He’ll likely back up both power forward and center this season.
Miroslav Raduljica, Serbia, 25, 7-0/250, prospect
While Raduljica is technically a rookie, he’s been a pro player for seven years for Serbian basketball factory FMP and a number of other European clubs. He’s yet to fully realize the potential shown early in his development, but he’ll learn playing behind the super-athletic Larry Sanders and crafty Zaza Pachulia.
Jose Barea, Puerto Rico, 29, PG, 6-0/175, rotation
Now the unequivocal leader of the Puerto Rico national team, he led his team to the semifinals of the FIBA Americas this summer. Barea should continue to play big for his size entering a contract year – and there are rumblings he hopes to re-join Dallas next summer.
Gorgui Dieng, Senegal, 23, C, 6-11/245, reserve
Fresh off an NCAA championship and Big East Defensive Player of the Year honors at Louisville, Dieng could contribute defensively and on the boards right away, especially for a team with some ambiguity in its second unit.
Bojan Dubljevic, Montenegro, 21, PF/C, 6-9/235, project
The second-to-last pick in this year’s NBA Draft, Dubljevic signed an extension with Valencia Basket of Spain’s top-tier league. The contract has a $1 million NBA buyout, something the Wolves might use if he keeps playing like he did at this year’s EuroBasket.
Nikola Pekovic, Montenegro, 27, C, 6-11/290, starter
He broke out as one of the Western Conference’s best centers last season, and the Timberwolves rewarded him with a five-year, $60 million deal. Paired with Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love, the Wolves could be one of the season’s most improved teams (if they can stay healthy).
Ricky Rubio, Spain, 22, PG, 6-4/180, starter
Look for a big jump from Rubio this season, as the phenom’s ACL tear is fully behind him and he possesses more weapons around him than ever before. If Rubio can improve his outside shooting, he can be one of the NBA’s premier point guards.
Alexey Shved, Russia, 24, G, 6-6/182, rotation
After a solid rookie campaign with Minnesota, Shved starred individually for Russia at EuroBasket, averaging 16.4 points and 4.8 assists. The Timberwolves will depend on Shved more this season for playmaking off of the bench.
Ronny Turiaf, France, 30, C, 6-10/250, rotation
With his France national team days likely behind him, Turiaf now enters the twilight years of his career as a physical, dependable reserve big man. He’ll spend this year backing up Nikola Pekovic and challenging rookie Gorgui Dieng at practice.
New Orleans Pelicans
Al-Farouq Aminu, Nigeria, 23, F, 6-9/215, rotation
Aminu, who was born in America but played for Nigeria at the 2012 Olympics, lost his starting job to newcomer Tyreke Evans, but his defense and athleticism will be vital to the Pelicans, especially with their two wing starters – Evans and Eric Gordon – being relatively undersized.
New York Knicks
Andrea Bargnani, Italy, 27, PF/C, 7-0/255, starter
After seven mostly underwhelming seasons with Toronto, the Knicks gave up a first-round pick and several players for the former No. 1 pick. Playing a complementary role should help Bargnani’s efficiency numbers, as well as the Knicks’ offense, and his defensive deficiency can be covered up somewhat by playing next to Tyson Chandler.
Ike Diogu, Nigeria, 30, PF/C, 6-9/250, reserve
The 30-year-old journeyman – whose journey took him to the Chinese Basketball Association last season – hasn’t appeared in an NBA game since January 2012. The Knicks have three available roster spots, but Diogu making the squad is a long shot.
Pablo Prigioni, Argentina, 36, PG, 6-3/185, rotation
As a rare rookie in his mid-30s, Prigioni was a pleasant surprise last season, earning a starting role in March and into the playoffs. One of the greatest European players of his generation, his defensive peskiness and energy will once again be valuable for New York.
Beno Udrih, Slovenia, 31, PG, 6-3/205, reserve
Years of losing in Sacramento, Milwaukee and Orlando contributed to Udrih signing the veteran’s minimum with the contending – or at least would like to be contending – Knicks in August. An underappreciated facilitator, Udrih could earn some spare minutes, especially when Raymond Felton plays some shooting guard.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Steven Adams, New Zealand, 20, C, 7-0/255, prospect
Possessing fantastic size and rare athleticism, Adams was thought too raw to log minutes for the title-contending Thunder anytime soon. But he played well at summer league, especially on defense, and now enters training camp looking for reserve minutes right away.
Serge Ibaka, Spain, 24, C, 6-10/245, starter
Born in the Republic of the Congo, Ibaka moved to Europe at 17 and considers Spain his home basketball country. Ibaka is still improving. He posted career highs for points and rebounds last season, and he’s one of the best shot blockers in the NBA – and he’s nowhere near full potential.
Thabo Sefolosha, Switzerland, 29, G, 6-7/225, rotation
Internationally, Sefolosha’s Switzerland basketball program has yet to qualify for anything of note since the 1950s. But in America, he’s a key member of a perennial NBA power. His combination of wing defense and three-point shooting will again be important for OKC alongside Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
Hasheem Thabeet, Tanzania, 26, C, 7-3/265, reserve
While Thabeet gets notoriety for being a busted draft pick at No. 2 in 2009, he contributed to the Thunder’s rotation last year, appearing in 66 games. He should log regular season minutes again this year, although he’ll be getting pressure from Pittsburgh rookie Steven Adams.
Andrew Nicholson, Canada, 23, PF, 6-9/250, rotation
While his body and game still need work, Nicholson displayed some offensive skill in an up-and-down rookie season. He struggled on defense, and his rebounding should be better for his size. But he has potential, which was on display when he averaged 15.1 points at FIBA Americas.
Romero Osby, Germany, 23, PF, 6-8/240, prospect
Osby signed a non-guaranteed deal in September and will be competing for a roster spot with a slew of non-roster training camp invitees. With an influx of power forwards in Orlando, Osby has his work cut out for him, but his strong showing in summer league didn’t hurt.
Hedo Turkoglu, Turkey, 34, SF, 6-10/220, reserve
Turkoglu isn’t attending training camp, as the Magic work with Turkoglu’s agent to buy out his contract. Once a star in Orlando, Turkoglu is a shell of his former self -- which was never more clear than at EuroBasket -- and it’s best for both sides if the relationship ends sooner than later.
Nikola Vucevic, Montenegro, 22, C, 7-0/240, starter
Vucevic helped ease Magic’s loss of Dwight Howard – and have some people think they even won the trade. Vucevic averaged 13.1 points and 11.1 rebounds last season, forcing the rebuilding Magic to make him an essential part of their future plans.
Solomon Alabi, Nigeria, 25, C, 71/250, project
Having struggled to find an NBA role since being drafted in the second round in 2010, Alabi split time between the D-League and the Greek League last season. He was signed as a training camp body, but if there’s an NBA roster he could make, it’s the lottery-bound Sixers, who have several injuries in their already-weak frontcourt.
Mac Koshwal, Sudan, 23, PF/C, 6-10/255, project
The former DePaul standout would have to really show something to make the Sixers’ final roster, despite the injuries to Sixers’ big men Kwame Brown and Arnett Moultrie.
Tim Ohlbrecht, Germany, 25, PF/C, 6-11/240, reserve
His contract is unguaranteed entering training camp, but with Arnett Moultrie out until at least January, Olbrecht has a chance to make a weak 76ers squad. The two-time German League All-Star was named to the D-League All-Star team last year.
Goran Dragic, Slovenia, 27, PG, 6-3/190, starter
With his country hosting EuroBasket 2013, Dragic led Slovenia to a fifth-place finish and a spot at the FIBA World Championship in 2014. Now he returns to Phoenix, where he’s the team’s engine. Dragic played well in his first season as a starter, and with Eric Bledsoe now at the other guard position, he should be even better.
Marcin Gortat, Poland, 29, C, 6-11/240, starter
Coming off a quick elimination at EuroBasket, Gortat enters a contract year aware that he’s on the trading block. The Suns are trying to get younger – Jared Dudley, Luis Scola and Caron Butler having all been traded – and heralded rookie big man Alex Len is behind Gortat on the depth chart. Gortat’s skills could really help a contender this spring.
Viacheslav Kravtsov, Ukraine, 26, C, 6-11/254, reserve
Kravtsov led all of EuroBasket in blocks with two per game, helping Ukraine to a sixth-place finish and its first World Cup appearance in two decades. He has the makings of a serviceable backup big man if he continues to develop.
Alex Len, Ukraine, 20, C, 7-1/255, prospect
The Suns consider Len a cornerstone of their future plans. The lottery pick, who had minor ankle surgery this summer, displayed great defensive skills at Maryland, and he possesses soft hands around the basket that should develop into offensive production in time. He was one of the most highly touted picks of the ’13 draft.
Portland Trail Blazers
Nicolas Batum, France, 24, G/F, 6-8/200, starter
Batum’s 17 points and formidable defense led France to a win over Lithuania in the EuroBasket championship, as the 24-year-old continues to get better and better. Having signed a 4-year deal with Portland last summer, the stout Batum will patrol the team’s wing and defend opponents’ best players for years to come.
Victor Claver, Spain, 25, F, 6-9/224, reserve
Claver averaged 6.1 points and 5.1 boards at EuroBasket for Spain, which was a France overtime loss away from the championship game. The young forward now resumes his role as an end-of-bencher for the Blazers.
Joel Freeland, United Kingdom, 26, F, 6-10/225, reserve
He bounced between the Trail Blazers and the Idaho Stampede last season, and that could be in the works again this year. But he’ll enter the season on the Blazers’ roster and will probably spend most nights as the 11th or 12th man.
Luc Mbah a Moute, Cameroon, 27, F, 6-8/230, starter
One of the better defenders in the world, Mbah a Moute was traded to the Kings from Milwaukee for a mere second-round pick because of his offensive limitations. At this point, you wonder if the offense will ever come around, but the Kings can certainly use his ball-stopping ability.
Hamady N’Diaye, Senegal, 26, C, 7-0/235, project
The Rutgers product spent most of last season with Tianjin RongGang of the Chinese Basketball Assocation, and as just a training camp body in Sacramento, N’Diaye could again spend this season overseas.
Greivis Vasquez, Venezuela, 26, G, 6-6/211, starter
His country’s only NBA representative, Vasquez couldn’t play at FIBA Americas because of surgery on his right ankle. But he’s healthy now, and after last season’s breakout campaign in New Orleans, Vasquez helps form an all-new perimeter trio in Sacramento with Luc Mbah a Moute and rookie Ben McLemore.
San Antonio Spurs
Aron Baynes, Australia, 26, PF/C, 6-10/260, reserve
An unknown a year ago – having played in four different countries and the D-League before logging playing time with San Antonio – Baynes put himself on the radar with a first-round playoff start against the Lakers, when he clamped down Dwight Howard. Baynes will fight for reserve minutes this season.
Marco Belinelli, Italy, 27, G, 6-5/195, rotation
It’s about time Belinelli joined the Spurs and their collection of European and South American talent. Belinelli was signed to the mid-level exception this year to replace Gary Neal as a backup wing to Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard. He averaged 13.6 points at EuroBasket.
Nando de Colo, France, 26, G, 6-5/200, reserve
Overshadowed by his more heralded French teammates, de Colo played efficiently at EuroBasket and played a role in France’s championship. The former French League MVP will look for minutes behind Tony Parker this season.
Boris Diaw, France, 31, PF, 6-8/235, rotation
Like several of his teammates, Diaw didn’t get much of an offseason, between a seven-game NBA Finals and a EuroBasket championship. Diaw’s game has aged well, as the veteran figures to be another key cog in the Spurs’ machine.
Manu Ginobili, Argentina, 36, G, 6-6/205, rotation
One of the best global basketball players of all-time – having won a Euroleague title, an NBA championship and an Olympic gold medal – Ginobili was the first of the Spurs’ big three to show considerable signs of aging. But he can still show flashes of greatness, as we saw in Game 5 of the NBA Finals against the Miami Heat.
Cory Joseph, Canada, 22, G, 6-3/185, reserve
Joseph was one of the best players at FIBA Americas this summer, averaging 16.1 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.4 assists. While he won’t have that same green light in San Antonio, he’ll provide some energy off the bench on the Spurs’ deep roster.
Patty Mills, Australia, 25, G, 6-0/185, reserve
Mills still enjoys folk hero status on the international stage after leading all scorers – even Kevin Durant and LeBron James -- at the 2012 Olympics. But at this point, he’s just a bench guy for the Spurs, barring injury.
Tony Parker, France, 31, PG, 6-2/185, superstar
In last season’s NBA Finals series loss, Parker was at many times the best player on the floor. At this summer’s EuroBasket, he was at all times the best player on the floor. Parker is playing the best ball of his career at 31, and he’s the biggest reason San Antonio will once again contend for a championship this year.
Tiago Splitter, Brazil, 28, C, 6-11/240, starter
Despite a so-so NBA Finals showing, the Spurs rewarded Splitter with a 4-year, $36 million deal this summer. The former Spanish ACB League MVP will man the center position in San Antonio for years to come.
Carlos Morais, Angola, 27, G, 6-4/200, project
Morais led all players with 21 points and 12 rebounds as Angola defeated Egypt for the Africa Championship back in August. Morias will compete for the Raptors’ last roster spot, and if he makes the team, he’ll be the first Angolan player to make an NBA roster.
Jonas Valanciunas, Lithuania, 21, C, 6-11/231, starter
The Raptors are excited about Valanciunas – who helped Lithuania to a second-place finish at EuroBasket and earned summer league MVP honors this summer – and showed that by trading away Andrea Bargnani. Valanciunas is primed to become an NBA star after an excellent rookie season.
Andris Biedrins, Latvia, 27, PF, 7-0/242, rotation
In the final year of a rather regrettable six-year, $54 million deal he signed with Golden State in 2008, Biedrins was traded to Utah so the Warriors could sign Andre Iguodala. While Biedrins' skills have declined since his golden years in Golden State, he’s still a serviceable backup.
Rudy Gobert, France, 21, C, 7-1/235, prospect
The No. 27 selection in this year’s NBA Draft has spent the last three years with Cholet Basket, one of the best teams in the French League. The young Jazz are certainly bound for the lottery, and they’ll look to see what they have with Gobert this year.
Enes Kanter, Turkey, 21, C, 6-11/248, starter
While still only 21, this is the year for Kanter to make the jump from potential to production, as the Jazz have paired him with Derrick Favors as the unquestioned frontcourt starters. The Jazz may not be great this year, but they’ll be fun to watch.
Scott Machado, Brazil, 23, PG, 6-1/205, prospect
Born in Queens, N.Y., of Brazilian descent, Machado spent last season shuffling between NBA benches and D-League lineups. He’s just a training camp body with Utah, but the team has a roster spot available, and Machado is a candidate to fill it.
Pops Mensah-Bonsu, United Kingdom, 30, F, 6-9/235, project
The Wizards have 15 players under guaranteed contract, so Pops is mostly joining training camp for the exposure. He last appeared in the NBA in 2011, and has bounced around overseas since, most recently with Olimpia Milano of the top Italian league.
Nene, Brazil, 31, PF/C, 6-11/250, starter
Nene’s health has been an issue since Washington traded for him in March 2012, but he’s stills a quality big man who’s essential to the team’s playoff aspirations. The Wizards’ young nucleus can benefit from Nene’s veteran presence.
Kevin Seraphin, France, 23, C, 6-9/275, rotation
Seraphin stayed home from EuroBasket to work on his skills and conditioning entering a contract year. And while it wasn’t easy for him to watch his French teammates hoist the trophy, Seraphin has slimmed down and looks ready for a productive year as the team’s first big man off the bench.
Jan Vesely, Czech Republic, 23, PF, 6-11/240, prospect
Veseley shined individually at EuroBasket, averaging 17 points and a tourney-high 11.2 boards in five games. He fell out of favor last season in Washington, but he showed confidence and energy in Slovenia the Wizards would appreciate.