Caribbean Players Join The International Takeover Of The NBA

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As many international basketball fans have undoubtedly noticed, there is a decisively more international feel to the NBA these days. In the past, for the most part, there might have been one or two true non-American standouts at any given time. Now, though, players from around the globe are impacting the league in a big way. Indeed, we can point to five young players – Joel Embiid (Cameroon), Ben Simmons (Australia), Giannis Antetokounmpo (Greece), Nikola Jokic (Serbia), and all of a sudden, Luka Doncic (Slovenia) – who are legitimately among the most exciting future prospects in the world. Embiid and Antetokounmpo are in the running for the NBA MVP this season, and Doncic is a virtual guarantee to win Rookie of the Year! 

This international revolution in the world’s biggest basketball league stems primarily from Africa and Europe. Players who hail from the Caribbean are making an impact also though, despite the region’s historically marginal impact on the NBA. Four players in particular – two from the Caribbean directly and two whose parents were born there – come to mind. 


Klay Thompson – Golden State Warriors 

Klay Thompson is not himself a Caribbean native, but his father (who also played professional basketball) was born in the Bahamas, which makes Thompson appropriate for this category. He may also be the most important player on this list to the league given that he plays for the dynastic Golden State Warriors, who are seeking a fourth NBA championship in five years. Some of the latest tips regarding the NBA betting markets will indicate that the Warriors aren’t quite as strong in the favorite position as they have been for most of the last five years, and this is in part due to Thompson’s relative struggles in the 2018-19 season. At his best though, he’s become one of the best three-point shooters in basketball history, and he’s an excellent defensive player as well. It’s fair to say that no Caribbean player since Tim Duncan has had as much potential to impact the NBA championship picture. 


Buddy Hield – Sacramento Kings 

Buddy Hield is still relatively new to the NBA. Unlike so many of the best young players in the league, he played a full college career at Oklahoma before becoming a professional. Now however, a few years into his career, he’s coming into his own in a major way with the Sacramento Kings. Sacramento’s somewhat unorthodox owner traded for Hield in the hopes that he could become a player not unlike Klay Thompson or Thompson’s teammate, the two-time MVP Stephen Curry. And while that hasn’t happened quite yet, Hield is proving to be worthy of the consideration. He’s still flying under the radar somewhat this season, but the young shooting guard – who hails directly from the Bahamas – is now scoring 20 points per game and shooting nearly 45 percent from three-point distance, which is a very strong mark. He has the chance to develop into a legitimate star. 


Al Horford – Boston Celtics 

Horford is far and away the oldest player on this list, even though he’s only 32 himself. He’s a very well-regarded veteran who was born in the Dominican Republic and played his college basketball at Florida (where he won multiple national championships) before moving on to the NBA. Horford made a name for himself as a professional with the Atlanta Hawks before moving on to the Boston Celtics, where he is now a significant contributor on a team with hopes of making the NBA finals. Unfortunately, the Celtics’ season to date has been largely underwhelming. Many still expect them to be in the mix in the playoffs though, and if they are it will be at least partially because of the stability Horford provides. He’s never quite reached superstar status, but Horford has had an immensely respectable career, and likely has several years yet to play if he wants them. 


Karl-Anthony Towns – Minnesota Timberwolves 

Karl-Anthony Towns is the center for the Minnesota Timberwolves, and often looks like one of the most dominant young players in the NBA. Though he was born in New Jersey, he counts himself as a Dominican-American, given his mother’s having been born in the Dominican Republic. Towns played his college ball, for one season, at the University of Kentucky before he was drafted by the Timberwolves, with whom he’s been productive since day one. The team has been trying to find itself, but following a few big moves this season – the ousting of star Jimmy Butler via trade and a head coaching transition – may be in the process of doing so. And in that process, Towns has been playing extraordinarily well. Should Minnesota capitalize on its potential, he could yet become one of the biggest impact players in the league.

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