Choosing an All-NBA Foreign Team for the 2012-13 Season
With all the postseason awards the NBA hands out every year, there is little they do to recognize the league's international stars.
An All-NBA Foreign Team would be an interesting and fun addition to the usual lineup of awards handed out to the NBA's elite.
This team would be made at the end of each season, just like the All NBA teams. Therefore, past accomplishments do not factor into the choices here. This team is based solely on the merits of the 2012-13 season.
Given that the strength of foreign talent in the NBA has been frontcourt-heavy for years, the team here reflects that. Though it appears that ratio may be evening out with some of the young foreign stars playing more on the wing and in the backcourt.
Here is the 12-man roster for an All-NBA Foreign Team for the 2012-13 season.
All statistics used in this story are accurate as of November 28, 2012.
Hails From: France
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 17.3 points and 7.2 assists
Year after year, Tony Parker brings it. 2012-13 is no different, as the 30-year-old point guard once again has the San Antonio Spurs clicking offensively.
Through 15 games, the Spurs are 12-3. Parker has registered four double-doubles and maxed out over 30 points twice. He is shooting 48 percent from the field and hitting 35 percent of his threes.
The most important numbers, though, are the 12-3 record. It doesn't seem like anything will stop the Spurs from winning with Parker at the helm. The team is aging dramatically, with its three stars over the 30-year plateau. They have also sustained an injury to starter Kawhi Leonard and are playing in a super-competitive Western Conference.
Still, with Parker running the show, the Spurs have the No. 3 offense in the league. The biggest part of that offense is the ball movement he initiates. The Spurs rank No. 1 in the NBA in assists, averaging 24.7 per game.
Parker represented his native France in the 2012 London Olympics. He helped them advance to the knockout round, but the team was eliminated in the first game by eventual silver medal-winning Spain.
The point guard spot is actually one of considerable depth for foreign players in the NBA. With some injuries occurring to other top floor generals, the path to a starting role was cleared for Parker.
Hails From: Slovenia/Yugoslavia
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 15.8 points and 6.8 assists
Given that the All-NBA teams are decided without specific guard positions in mind, that is the way the All-Foreign Team will be chosen as well.
Goran Dragic has simply outplayed all other possibilities thus far in the 2012-13 season. He has fought hard to keep the rebuilding Suns relevant in a very tough Pacific Division. He has them at 7-9 right now, but they are only 2.5 games behind the first-place Los Angeles Clippers.
Through 16 games as the starting point guard, Dragic has posted a career high in nearly every statistical category. He left Houston this summer looking for a starting job, and he has more than earned that role with the Suns. He is also shooting 47 percent from the field and hitting 39 percent from behind the three-point line.
Dragic competed internationally for Team Slovenia, winning three gold medals in the FIBA Under-20 Championships and Stankovic Cup.
Given the reins to Phoenix's 2012-13 season, Dragic has proven himself as an above-average NBA point guard. As the new-look Suns continue to grow into a team, he will be at the forefront of an exciting roster.
As deep as the point guard position is internationally, the shooting guard spot is equally as barren. With Manu Ginobili off to a slow start and really showing his age, Dragic slips in as the second-best foreign guard in 2012-13.
Hails From: Great Britain via South Sudan
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 17.6 points and 7.4 rebounds
Luol Deng has been killing himself making sure the Chicago Bulls stay relevant until Derrick Rose returns. The small forward is playing 40.5 minutes per game 14 games into the 2012-13 season. That number leads all NBA players.
In those extended minutes, Deng is playing some of the best basketball of his career. A first-time All-Star a season ago, he has upped his production in Rose's absence. He is both the defensive and offensive focal point for the 7-7 Bulls.
His defensive work, usually on the opposition's top scorer, has kept Chicago among the top five defensive teams in the NBA. While none of that may contribute to a stat sheet, Deng quietly has helped the Bulls to within a half-game of the Central Division lead.
Deng's 7.4 rebounds per game are a career high, and he has upped his scoring more than two points per game over last season's 15.3 per game.
Internationally, Deng was the lone NBA star on Great Britain's entrant in the 2012 London Olympics. Despite finishing outside of the bracket round at 1-4, Deng helped his team compete to a one-point loss to Spain and a couple other tight games.
Hails From: Brazil
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 14.5 points and 14.9 rebounds
At 30 years of age, Anderson Varejao is putting together his finest season in the NBA this year.
He has done so quietly and will continue to do so on a bad Cleveland Cavaliers team. Still, that is no reason not to recognize the accomplishments of this Brazilian star.
Varejao is rebounding at an absurd rate in 2012-13. He is averaging an even 20 rebounds per 48 minutes, which is just incredible. He leads the league in rebounding and has grabbed 15 or more in 10 separate games this season, including in each of the Cavs' past six games.
His offense is also a massive upgrade over seasons past. He is averaging a career-high 14.5 points per game, a solid 3.7 points more than 2011-12. Some of this may have to do with the lack of other scorers in Cleveland, but Varejao is still shooting 53 percent from the field and 78 percent from the free-throw line.
Though he has only helped the Cavaliers to 3-12 record through 15 games, Varejao's phenomenal start deserves to be commended.
He competed with the Brazilian team in the 2012 London Olympics. His play helped them to a 4-1 record in the qualifying round, but they ran into Argentina in the first game of the brackets and fell 82-77.
Hails From: Spain
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 15.5 points, 6.8 rebounds and 4.6 assists
The team with the best winning percentage thus far in the 2012-13 season is the Memphis Grizzlies. Marc Gasol has played an enormous role in the Grizzlies' 11-2 start.
In just his fifth NBA season, Gasol has developed into one of the best centers in the league. His rebounding is down slightly from years past, but both his scoring and assist numbers have skyrocketed. He is averaging 15.5 points per game on just 10.3 shots a night, good for a 51 percent clip. Also of note is Gasol's astronomical 89 percent free-throw rate.
Gasol has helped the Grizzlies enter into top-six territory both in points scored and points allowed. Memphis is currently ranked No. 2 in the NBA defensively and No. 6 in scoring. Gasol's well-rounded game from the center position is a big reason the Grizzlies are so versatile across the floor.
If Gasol can up his rebounding numbers a bit—he has zero double-doubles—he won't have to worry about the All-NBA Foreign Team because he'll be on one of the All-NBA teams.
The Grizzlies center took part in the 2012 London Olympics with Team Spain and helped them to a silver medal. In the gold-medal game against the United States, Gasol posted 17 points on 8-of-10 shooting. Unfortunately, they fell to the Americans, 107-100.
He was also a member of the silver medalists in the 2008 Beijing Games.
Hails From: France
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 17.9 points and 5.9 rebounds
Nicolas Batum has soared out of the opening gate this season and emerged as a true star for the Portland Trail Blazers. Despite his team's struggles, they should remain in the thick of the playoff race in the Western Conference.
Batum has been a saving grace for Portland. He has upped his scoring by four points per game while also improving dramatically across the board. His 5.9 rebounds are a career high, as are his 3.1 assists and 1.7 steals per game. Batum is only taking a couple more shots per game this season and still connecting 45 percent of the time (38 percent from long distance).
The 6'8" Batum is a unique NBA player. He has the long-range capabilities, but also the size and length to bang down low and defend bigger forwards. Once he has more time to gel with his new point guard and the other new pieces, the Trail Blazers should win some more games. As it stands, the team is just 6-9.
Still, Batum provides great scoring and a solid all-around game on the wing—perfect attributes for a sixth man.
Batum joined Tony Parker on Team France in the 2012 London Olympics. Though he is most remembered for an ugly foul on Juan Carlos Navarro, Batum did help the French to a 4-1 qualification record and posted nine points and five rebounds in the loss to Spain.
Here is where we can stow away some of the older stars who are missing time this season or have dropped off slightly. They do pair with some younger stars who are just emerging on the scene as well.
Hails From: Germany
Dirk Nowitzki has yet to play a game in 2012-13, but I have no doubt when he does return he will be a factor for the Dallas Mavericks. He has career figures of 22.9 points per game, 48 percent shooting from the field, 38 percent from three and 88 percent from the free-throw line.
If Nowitzki returns to any of those numbers later this year, he may unseat Anderson Varejao in the starting lineup.
Hails From: Canada
The 38-year-old point guard hurt himself in the second game of the 2012-13 season. His move to the Los Angeles Lakers this season has been uneventful thus far thanks to a lower leg injury. Still, when he does return, he figures to be very productive in old friend Mike D'Antoni's offense.
Hails From: The Dominican Republic
The Atlanta Hawks big man is putting together another impressive season in the NBA. Averaging 16 points and 9.3 rebounds per game. He struggled through an injury last season but appears to have regained his status as one of the best centers in the game.
Horford has also helped the Hawks to a 9-4 start without departed star Joe Johnson.
Hails From: Argentina
The former Sixth Man of the Year for the San Antonio Spurs is showing his age a bit this season. Through 12 games, the 35-year-old shooting guard is posting just 11.8 points per game, the lowest since his rookie year. He is also shooting just 41.5 percent from the field, the worst mark of his career.
However, you can't deny Ginobili a spot here. He has been too important to the international game for too long.
Hails From: Russia
In his return to the NBA this season, Andrei Kirilenko has been impressive. He is providing the Minnesota Timberwolves with the great all-around play he brought the Utah Jazz for all those years.
In the early absence of Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio, Kirilenko helped the Timberwolves remain competitive. His 13 points and 7.8 rebounds per game are his highest totals since 2005-06. Minnesota now stands at 6-8 and is still in solid position to make a run at the playoffs.
Hails From: Spain
Pau Gasol is the subject of a lot of Los Angeles scorn at the moment, though he is still putting together a solid season. At 32 years old, Gasol is getting up there in age. However, the Lakers big man is putting up 13.1 points and 9.1 rebounds per game.
He is adjusting to some changes in frontcourt mates and head coaches, resulting in a low 42 percent field-goal percentage, but if and when that evens out, Gasol is a necessity on this team.
Hails From: Turkey
Though he may not fit if this team were to play actual games, Omer Asik deserves to be recognized for how well he is playing right now. After receiving a lot of criticism for the contract he was awarded by the Houston Rockets, Asik is proving his worth in 2012-13.
He is currently averaging a double-double, at 10.8 points and 12.3 rebounds per game. He has maintained a decent 48 percent field-goal percentage and is playing stellar defense for the Rockets. Houston is 7-8 right now and right in the thick of the early postseason race.
This team is very frontcourt-heavy, which resembles the ratio of foreign stars in the NBA.
Notable exemptions from the team were Marcin Gortat, Nikola Pekovic, Serge Ibaka, Jose Calderon, Ricky Rubio, Greivis Vasquez, Andrea Bargnani and Thabo Sefolosha.