Ginobili recalls having “no thoughts” of an NBA career when he was growing up in Argentina, a sentiment shared by his current teammate from Spain, Pau Gasol. “For me, it was like going to a different galaxy. It was like a dream far, far away,” Gasol told Yahoo Sports. “So it was something very hard to get to. Kids are getting confident. They see coming to the NBA as something that’s probable. I wouldn’t say easier, because this is a very competitive league. Everyone wants to make it. Everyone wants to be in it. But it doesn’t seem as improbable as it used to be.”
The current crop of potential perennial All-Stars grew up studying their international predecessors and their peers, which has helped transform how they play and what they believe is possible. That’s how a player from Greece has the flexibility of a rubber band and the bounce of a super ball; how a player from Cameroon has post moves reminiscent of Hakeem Olajuwon but shoots threes with the confidence of Ray Allen; how a 7-foot-3 big man from Latvia can dribble and shoot like a guard; how a player from Australia has earned comparisons to James; and how a center from Serbia continually flirts with and bags a few triple-doubles.
“It just seems like every year, the level of talent, skill injected into the league internationally just goes higher and higher,” Dallas Mavericks president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson told Yahoo Sports by phone. “It’s truly a fun time and the global game is producing some very unique, talented players.”