2016 NBA Draft Sets Record for Most International Players Selected in 1st Round

Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistJune 23, 2016

LSU's Ben Simmons walks up on stage after being selected as the top pick by the Philadelphia 76ers during the NBA basketball draft, Thursday, June 23, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

Fifteen international players were among the first 30 picks in the 2016 NBA draft Thursday, which set a record for the most foreign-born prospects selected in the first round, per NetScouts Basketball's Carl Berman.

The previous record was 12, which was set in 2013, per NBA.com.

Two international players went within the first four picks.

The Philadelphia 76ers drafted Ben Simmons, a native of Melbourne, Australia, with the No. 1 pick, and the Phoenix Suns selected 18-year-old Croatian Dragan Bender at No. 4.

Here's a list of all 15 players born outside the U.S. to go in the first round:

2016 NBA Draft: 1st-Round International Players
PickPlayerCountryTeam
1Ben Simmons, LSUAustraliaPhiladelphia 76ers
4Dragan Bender, Maccabi Tel AvivCroatiaPhoenix Suns
6Buddy Hield, OklahomaBahamasNew Orleans Pelicans
7Jamal Murray, KentuckyCanadaDenver Nuggets
9Jakob Poeltl, UtahAustriaToronto Raptors
10Thon Maker, Athlete InstituteSudanMilwaukee Bucks
11Domantas Sabonis, GonzagaLithuaniaOklahoma City Thunder
13Georgios Papagiannis, PanathinaikosGreecePhoenix Suns
15Juan Hernangomez, CB EstudiantesSpainDenver Nuggets
16Guerschon Yabusele, RouenFranceBoston Celtics
23Ante Zizic, Cibona ZagrebCroatiaBoston Celtics
24Timothe Luwawu, Mega LeksFrancePhiladelphia 76ers
26Furkan Korkmaz, Anadolu EfesTurkeyPhiladelphia 76ers
27Pascal Siakam, New Mexico StateCameroonToronto Raptors
28Skal Labissiere, KentuckyHaitiPhoenix Suns
Source: NBA.com

The 76ers continued loading up on international prospects. In addition to Simmons, they selected Timothe Luwawu (France) at No. 24 and Furkan Korkmaz (Turkey) at No. 26. They will join Cameroon-born Joel Embiid, Canada-born Nik Stauskas and Croatia-born Dario Saric, a 22-year-old who has yet to move to the NBA.

Georgios Papagiannis was one of the more surprising international players to come off the board in the first round. The Suns snapped him up with the No. 13 pick, but Papagiannis will head to California instead, with the Sacramento Bee's Jason Jones confirming the Sacramento Kings acquired the 18-year-old Greek along with Haitian Skal Labissiere, Serbian Bogdan Bogdanovic and a second-round pick in 2020. The Suns received the rights to Marquese Chriss, per Jones.

Kings star DeMarcus Cousins appeared less than thrilled when Sacramento drafted Papagiannis:

With the NBA's profile continuing to grow overseas, the influx of international players is unlikely to subside anytime soon, and teams won't stop looking for the next Dirk Nowitzki, Kristaps Porzingis or Yao Ming.