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“The best basketball player doesn’t have to be an American anymore”: Joel Embiid hints at foreign players taking over the league as top players

Akash Murty
|Mon Mar 21 2022

Joel Embiid feels that although basketball is bigger in the United States, an American doesn’t have to be the best basketball player.

The National Basketball Association is not only USA’s but the world’s biggest stage for Basketball. That said, at the start of the 2021 season the league had 1232 American players while only 301 foreign players which constitute less than 20% of players.

But that is still a significant number compared to a couple of decades back when top European players used to warm the bench of several NBA franchises. Many spoiled their career for the dream of competing at the highest level when they could have been superstars in any league outside the States.

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But Hakeem Olajuwon gave all of them a dream that an outsider can not only become a top pick in the NBA Draft but also be the face of the franchise an MVP in the league. It took another decade and a half for another player to become that, but German international Dirk Nowitzki took over the baton from “The Dream”.

That was a time when a just player or two used to be the face of their franchise, while 28 other teams had All American teams. And now it’s a time when there are 9-10 teams with at least one guy who is a top player in their franchise and even maybe in the league.

Joel Embiid hints at non-Americans being the best in the league

The Philadelphia 76ers is one such team which a few months back had two international All-NBA players in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons representing Cameroon and Australia respectively.

Now Embiid is the sole international face of his franchise since Simmons moved to Brooklyn in a mid-season trade. The top-3 MVP candidate believes basketball is bigger in America than any other country, but the Americans need not be its top players, not anymore.

The last 3 years’ Most Valuable Players in the league have been Nikola Jokic (2021) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (2019, 2020). And this year’s MVP race has 4 foreign players in the Top-5, the Joker, the Greek Freak plus Joel Embiid, and Luka Doncic.

So, by no means Joel is not incorrect in his assessment, if anything he is being subtle about it. He came up with this statement before Philly hosted the Raptors, and ironically they got an 88-93 beating at the hands of Joel’s compatriot Pascal Siakam (26pt, 10r, 5a) and Nigerian international Precious Achiuwa (21pt, 9r).

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About the author
Akash Murty

Akash Murty

A sports enthusiast, crazy about basketball and football. Like putting forward my opinion on the things I know about, but restrain myself from doing that in my articles because my job is to report. Cover everything Lakers and NBA-related, both old and new.

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