Should NBA Scouts Stay Away From Foreigners with Early Draft Choices?

Adam LawrenceContributor IMay 24, 2009

DENVER - MAY 13:  Dirk Nowitzki #41 of the Dallas Mavericks sits on the bench late in the game against  the Denver Nuggets in Game Five of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at Pepsi Center on May 13, 2009 in Denver, Colorado. The Nuggets defeated the Mavericks 124-110 to advance to the Western Conference Finals. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Dirk. Manu. AK-47. Okur. Turkoglu.

Great lineup.

Elite players have come out of foreign countries in the past few years, but are they worth taking as high as many scouts as perceived?

With every superstar coming out of foreign countries, there is always a bust. Think back to Darko Milicic, Nikoloz Tskitshivili, Andrea Bargnani, and those picks, 2, 5, and 1, respectively.

That's a lot to give up in today's drafts for these players.

My question. Why haven't NBA scouts flocked towards collegiate athletes who have proven themselves on a regular basis and in a competition that is decipherable game to game?

Not to say that for every stud collegiate athlete that comes into the draft there is never a bust, because there are always many college players who turn out to be benchwarmers for their entire careers, but the sudden urge to take foreigners has harmed many teams chances from reaching their long term goals.

What is funny to me, is that almost every great foreigner that has come out of the draft has almost always been a late-round pick. Think back to when the Spurs took Ginobili with the final pick of the draft almost a decade ago, or when the Jazz took AK-47 in the late first round.

Luis Scola was taken with the 55th pick in the draft a year ago by the Spurs before departing for Houston. Hell, even the Mavs got Dirk with a steal in with the ninth pick.

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But what high drafted foreigner has ever turned out to have a great NBA career? Yao of course, but the hype surrounding him was greater than any player in history from his home country.

There are some talented players coming out of foreign countries, many of whom have helped their teams greatly. But when it comes on taking a gamble as opposed to a low-risk player out of college, it makes me wonder whether scouts have the right resources to determine the actual value of these foreign athletes.

I am not trying to undermine the talent or ability of these players, but I am trying to point out that many foreigners are underrated studs that are taken with high picks in the draft not with prominent first round choices.

This leads me to believe that many scouts are in a crapshoot; there is no real way to test the ability of these athletes because of where they are playing, meaning that selected one of these players with an early pick in a draft could be extremely risky.

Memhet Okur was taken with the 38th pick in the 2001 draft, and even guys like Hedo Turkoglu were not selected until the middle of the first round in their respective seasons.

Look, the talent is there, and there are obviously some phenomenal basketball players coming out of several countries around the world, but most of them are taken with a keen sense of wisdom from some of the NBA's best general managers; not off hunches from the media.

This is exactly why Darko Milicic is playing for the Pistons instead of Carmelo, Bosh, Wade... yeah BLUNDER.

Or why Andrea Bargnani is playing for the Raptors instead of Brandon Roy or Rudy Gay.

Or why Nikoloz Tskitshivili is out of the league instead of Amare or Caron Butler playing for the Nuggets.

While you can name off hundreds of college stars who failed miserably and led to teams in shambles, such as when Marvin Williams was taken above Chris Paul and Deron Williams, it is especially relevant in the sense that these foreign players are far more risky in a bust sense than other players.

When is the last time a foreigner that has been selected with a high choice ever been successful? Yao Ming? If so that is an excessively long time to wait for another superstar to arise from a foreign country to the NBA.

But when was the last time a foreigner who has gone under the radar and been selected late in the draft been successful? Well, it happens every year.

There are many athletes across the world who become international superstars once selected in the latter rounds of their respective drafts.

So you can take Bargnani, Milicic, and Tskitshivili, and I'll take Manu, Scola, and Okur, all second round selections, and all better than others selected more than fifty spots ahead of them.

There is no lack of talent coming out of foreign countries; in fact there are many who have succeed far more admirably than expected in the league.

However, NBA scouts need to draw the line at some point, and think back to what makes great basketball players, instead of listening to hype and absurd commentary that gets overrated foreign stars into high draft selections.


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