NBA Africa and the pursuit of global basketball development

In 2019, there’s no doubt that basketball stars can come from any corner of the world. Just last summer, fans, and critics were in a fierce debate over drafting an international player first overall. And now NBA Africa is the next big venture for the American league

Eventually, Slovenian star Luka Doncic was chosen third overall by Atlanta before being traded to Dallas. So far he’s the frontrunner for Rookie of the Year which shows just how far the league has come.

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So why should the NBA create a league in Africa of all places? When you consider the past few great international players, it’s easy to overlook the recent success of African born players.

Dirk Nowitzki, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili are just a few international players that come to mind.

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Currently, there are a few young stars in the NBA who are of African descent. Joel Embiid is probably the biggest name to come out of Africa.

Imagine if development coaches and scouts from the NBA could track African players well before they get any international exposure.

The financial success of an African NBA league is up in the air. The development of young international players alone is enough to sell the idea.

Raptors up and comer Pascal Siakam is just one of many players who represent Africa at the NBA level:

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What would an NBA Africa league look like?

The league will consist of 12 teams across varying countries in Africa. Most importantly, the league will provide a unifying factor that these African teams have not had in their respective countries.

Having one league to represent so much talent will increase their representation in NBA considerations. Scouts need to see a player compete against the top talent on their continent. This will give a level of transparency that has always been lacking on an international stage.

Hopefully, NBA Africa can provide the stage for international talent to compete at its highest level. Then the transition between the NBA Africa league and the NBA itself won’t be such a stretch.

When it comes to grading metrics that evaluate international players potential success in America, competition is at the forefront.

In the case of Doncic, it was especially hard for scouts and critics since he is from overseas. Generally, most critics and scouts consider American college basketball to be a better indicator of NBA success than international play.

That is where the debate is the most heated. How could any college athlete compare to a 19-year-old who has been playing adults for most of his life?

This is the real reason fans, critics, and scouts need an NBA Africa league. It will create the transparency needed to evaluate these players and give them a chance in America.

On the flip side, there’s no way the league doesn’t provide some very entertaining basketball. Considering the NBA’s top big man, Embiid, is from Africa originally.

Two of the NBA’s brightest stars are from Africa, and boy did they battle it out this summer:

Will the NBA ever become a global league?

What is very interesting about the NBA Africa league is the timing. In recent years, the NBA has been on a pursuit to play games in other countries. The NBA China game has been headlined by the Philadelphia 76ers the past two seasons.

The NBA has even played games in London and Mexico City. If games are aired all over the world, why bring the NBA to these countries?

Development is the real answer to that question. The more hype the NBA can bring around the world, more leagues will start popping up in unexpected places. When these leagues are established, the NBA has an opportunity to see if they boast real talent.

This is the case for NBA Africa. For too long the NBA has sat idly while some of the most talented players have gone under the radar.

A world of opportunities could open up for these players. Especially if scouts can see these players perform even one or two years earlier than in the past.

Soon enough, it wouldn’t be surprising if the NBA started to establish teams in these countries. Although players have a love/hate relationship with travel, that wouldn’t stop the NBA.

If players can get on board, and the talent in Africa is bursting, the first NBA franchises might pop up. Although it is hard to imagine this happening in the next few years. For now, the NBA Africa league will be the next installment in the NBA’s pursuit of global talent.

Furthermore, a change of scenery could just be what the NBA fans need:

All information via NBA.com
Featured Image: Enough Project via Flickr.com