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NBA

Top 10 international players of the 2019-20 NBA season

With over three-quarters of the 2019-20 NBA regular season behind us, our NBA.com Global staff decided to vote on the 10 best international players in the league.

There was plenty of talent to choose from, as last season's MVP, Rookie of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year and Most Improved Player were all international players - Giannis Antetokounmpo (Greece), Luka Doncic (Slovenia), Rudy Gobert (France) and Pascal Siakam (Cameroon), respectively. All cracked our top-10 along with talents from other countries such as Serbia, Australia, Lithuania, Canada and Latvia.

Several other players from other countries received votes, showcasing the variety of talent outside the United States that come together to represent the NBA.

Players that received votes but didn't crack the top-10 include: Serge Ibaka (3), Dennis Schroder (2), Jonas Valanciunas (1), Nikola Vucevic (1) and Davis Bertans (1).

Take a look at how the top-10 rounded out.

10. Kristaps Porzingis, Latvia - 14 points

Of the 11 staff members who participated in this exercise, seven had Porzingis on their list.

The 24-year-old Latvian is averaging 19.2 points, 9.5 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game on 42.0% shooting from the field and 34.9% from 3 on the season.

Having spent more than 500 days without playing in an NBA game, it took him a while to pick up the pace upon his return, playing for a new team in a new system alongside superstar Luka Doncic. Since the beginning of February, Porzingis' production has grown to 24.5 points, 10.8 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game on 45.0% shooting from the field and 36.7% from beyond the arc.

He was posting All-Star calibre numbers prior to the season being suspended, showing that the Mavericks are no longer a one-man show.

9. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Canada - 23 points

He's not the youngest, but Gilgeous-Alexander is one of the least-experienced players in the top-10. At just 21-years-old, the Canadian guard has been a revelation in his second season, not that it comes as a huge surprise after he made some noise as a starter for the LA Clippers last year.

SGA is averaging 19.3 points, 6.1 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.1 steals per game on 47.0% shooting from the field and 35.1% from 3 on the season.

He appeared on all 11 ballots, ranking as high as eighth on two of them. The Canadian has been essential to OKC's stellar season, placing them at fifth place in the West.

8. Domantas Sabonis, Lithuania - 35 points

There were eight international players present at the 2020 NBA All-Star Game in Chicago with Domantas Sabonis, a first-time All-Star, being one of those eight.

The 23-year-old Lithuanian went from being one of the league's best sixth men last season to one of the league's most impactful frontcourt players this season. Averaging 18.5 points, 12.4 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game, Sabonis is top-20 in the league in terms of win shares (14th with 7.6). He also makes a major impact defensively, with 3.3 defensive win shares.

Sabonis was selected by 10 of the 11 voters and ranked in the top-five on one of the lists.

7. Rudy Gobert, France - 39 points

The reigning two-time Defensive Player of the Year has been a little up-and-down this season, but he's still averaging 15.1 points, a career-high 13.7 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game, all while shooting a career-high 69.8% from the field.

Even with a top-10 defensive rating (103.3) in the NBA, Gobert did not crack the top-five on any panel and was excluded from two top-10s. The 27-year-old Frenchman still ranks seventh in his first season being honoured as an All-Star.

6. Ben Simmons, Australia - 59 points

The 23-year-old Australian guard is one of the most unique players in the NBA.

He's averaging 16.7 points, 8.2 assists, 7.8 rebounds, a league-leading 2.1 steals and 0.6 blocks per game while shooting 58% from the field, mainly on 2s as he has made just two 3-pointers on the season.

His game's appreciation varies based on who you're asking, but the talent of the 76ers' star is indisputable and he's taken a major leap on the defensive side of the ball this season, making him one of the likely candidates to receive votes for Defensive Player of the Year.

Simmons was voted as high as fifth by one of our staffers.

5. Joel Embiid, Cameroon - 65 points

Embiid's greatness is undeniable when he's healthy.

He's had a strong season averaging 23.4 points, 11.8 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.3 blocks per game and that would be considered somewhat of a down year based on Embiid's last two campaigns. A variety of injuries has kept the All-Star centre sidelined for 21 of the 76ers' 65 games, but he's still been great when he's on the floor.

Embiid is an unstoppable force in the paint but his advanced skillset makes him unique for his position. The 25-year-old landed on every ballot of the 11 staff members polled, ranging from fourth to seventh on each list.

4. Pascal Siakam, Cameroon - 68 points

After Kawhi Leonard left the Toronto Raptors, Siakam took control of the franchise, keeping the defending NBA champions at the forefront of the Eastern Conference.

The growth Siakam has displayed has been inspiring, averaging 23.6 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.0 steals and 0.9 blocks per game - averages that not only earned him his first All-Star bid, but his first selection as an All-Star starter.

With great disparity among voters, Spicy P received votes that ranged from third to eighth. He ultimately landed at fourth, completing the Cameroon duo inside the top-five on this list.

3. Nikola Jokic, Serbia - 86 points

Jokic is having another tremendous season.

The 24-year-old Serbian centre is averaging 20.2 points, 10.2 rebounds, 6.9 assists and 1.2 steals per game while leading the Denver Nuggets to another successful season. He has 12 triple-doubles, ranking him behind only Doncic and LeBron James for the most in the league.

Jokic earned nine votes for third-best international player, with two ranking him fourth.

2. Luka Doncic, Slovenia - 99 points

Doncic falls to second on this list, but as a 21-year-old in just his second season in the NBA, no one doubts his talent as one of the best players in the world.

The Slovenian guard averages 28.7 points, 9.3 rebounds and 8.7 assists per game, putting on a show every time he takes the floor.

Doncic's 37% usage rate is second-highest in the NBA. The Mavericks' jump into the Western Conference playoff picture this season is due in large part to his growth into a superstar, leading Dallas to nearly a 60% winning percentage after winning 40% of their games last season.

Doncic received all possible votes for second place.

1. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Greece - 110 points

The reigning MVP is well on his way to earning back-to-back MVP awards and was unanimously selected as the best international player in the NBA.

Antetokounmpo is averaging 29.6 points, 13.7 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 1.0 steals and 1.0 blocks despite playing just 31 minutes per contest - his lowest average since his rookie year.

He leads the NBA in most advanced statistics such as plus-minus, defensive plus-minus, win shares per 48 minutes, defensive win shares, defensive rating and Player Efficiency Rating.

The Greek forward is a force to be reckoned with.

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