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Rudy Gobert, Nikola Jokic, and Kristaps Porzingis round up ESPN’s top foreign players list

Over the past few years, the NBA has had a tremendous increase of international players bringing their talents to the league. This goes to show how the popularity of basketball has grown around the world. A perfect example is this year’s Rio Olympics, where a record 47 players from the association are competing and representing their countries.

In Bradford Doolittle’s recent report on ESPN, he released the rankings of foreign NBA players this coming season and ranked the top 20 using real plus-minus and WARP (Wins Above Replacement Players).

The top three from the list are comprised of big men and are all from Europe:

  1. Rudy Gobert (France; Utah Jazz) – Projected WARP: 11.69
  2. Nikola Jokic (Serbia; Denver Nuggets) – Projected WARP: 11.01
  3. Kristaps Porzingis (Latvia; New York Knicks) – Projected WARP: 10.59

Gobert has been a steady force especially on the defensive end, providing a strong inside presence in Salt Lake City. He had a breakout season last year almost averaging a double-double with 9.1 points, 11 rebounds, 1.6 assists, and 2.2 blocks in 31.7 minutes per game. The Stifle Tower has also helped Les Bleus reach the quarterfinals in this year’s summer games.

Jokic made his NBA debut with the Nuggets last season and turned many heads with his post moves and rebounding prowess. He emerged as a member of the All-Rookie First Team of 2015-2016 with averages of 10 points, 7 rebounds, and 2.4 assists in 21.7 minutes, appearing in 80 games. In last week’s game against Team USA, the 21-year-old center introduced himself in the international stage with 25 points and 6 rebounds in the tightly contested match where his home country, Serbia, only lost by three points.

The Knicks made a lot of believers during last year’s regular season that they made the right choice in drafting the young Latvian forward. It can be recalled that the fans in New York were not pleased after hearing Kristaps’ name announced as the fourth overall pick, but after a few games, and a few highlight plays, everyone in The Big Apple loved Porzingis. He finished second in voting for the Rookie of the Year award and is an integral part of the Knicks’ future.

Al Horford, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jonas Valanciunas, Pau Gasol, Ricky Rubio, Nikola Vucevic and Nicolas Batum round out the top 10 of the list.

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