When drafting in the lottery, the most important thing is that you select a player that has proven he can dominate against elite competition.
In recent years, many of the international players selected within the lottery based on pure potential alone have not lived up to the hype for their respective teams.
Here is a list of all the international players selected in the lottery in the last 10 drafts. Note: Players like Luol Deng and Al Horford can be considered international players since they weren’t born in the United States, but since they played high school and college basketball in the United States, I’m not including players like this on the list.
Yao Ming (No. 1, 2002), Nikoloz Tskitishvili (No. 5, 2002), Nenê Hilario (No. 7, 2002), Darko Milicic (No. 2, 2003), Mickaël Piétrus (No. 11, 2003), Rafael Araújo (No. 8, 2004), Andris Biedriņš (No. 11, 2004), Andrew Bogut (No. 1, 2005), Fran Vázquez (No. 11, 2005), Yaroslav Korolev (No. 12, 2005), Andrea Bargnani (No. 1, 2006), Mouhamed Sene (No. 10, 2006), Thabo Sefolosha (No. 13, 2006), Yi Jianlian (No. 6, 2007), Danilo Gallinari (No. 6, 2008), Ricky Rubio (No. 5, 2009), Enes Kanter (No. 3, 2011), Jonas Valančiūnas (No. 5, 2011), Jan Veselý (No. 6, 2011), Bismack Biyombo (No. 7, 2011)
Out of all 20 of these players, Yao Ming is the only one who has made an All-Star appearance. Besides Yao, Bogut is the only other player on the list who has ever appeared on one of the All-NBA teams. Five of the players aren’t even in the league anymore.
The evidence is right there in the players. Drafting players who never went through the grueling AAU system or college season just hasn’t shown to be productive.
Let's look at this year’s current rookies for a better analysis. Out of the 10 players from the U.S. drafted in the lottery, nine of them average over five points per game. Out of the four international players drafted, one of them doesn’t play in the NBA and the other three all average less than five points per game.
Bottom line is history proves if you want to make a successful lottery pick, go with the proven college star over the mysterious international player.