NBA restart to feature 89 international players
As 22 NBA teams restart the season inside a bio-secure bubble in Orlando this week, 89 international players from 34 countries and territories are set to feature when basketball returns from its 4-1/2 month COVID-19 pandemic-enforced break.
The list includes eight NBA All-Stars such as Milwaukee Bucks’ Greek forward MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, last year’s MVP, Dallas Mavericks’ Luka Doncic from Slovenia and Philadelphia 76ers’ Cameroonian center Joel Embiid.
Antetokounmpo, 25, has continued his rise this season, averaging 29.6 points and 13.7 rebounds per game — both career-highs — as the Bucks top the Eastern Conference standings with a 53-12 record.
Doncic, the reigning Rookie of the Year, has racked up a league-high 14 triple-doubles.
All 22 teams will have at least one international player on their roster, with the Mavericks boasting a league-high seven.
Canada has 15 NBA players and France seven, followed by Australia, Germany and Serbia with five each.
The NBA, which halted its season in March due to the pandemic, will have 22 of its 30 teams play eight seeding games to determine a full 16-team playoff field that will follow the traditional post-season format with four best-of-seven series.
All games, practices and accommodation are at the Walt Disney World Resort, which has multiple hotels and arenas and allows the league to limit outside exposure to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
The season restarts on Thursday with the Utah Jazz taking on the New Orleans Pelicans followed by the Los Angeles Clippers against city rivals the Lakers.
The first round of the playoffs starts on Aug. 17.
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