How the international big men affected the small ball revolution

14/Oct/18 15:00 October 14, 2018

Stefan Djordjevic

14/Oct/18 15:00

The international ‘Big Men’ brought superior height combined with technical skills to the NBA, changing it forever.

By Stefan Djordjevic/

The first international player to join the NBA League was Hank Biasatti, an Italian-Canadian, way back in 1946 but it was more than four decades later that the international players started to take a more important role in the league, especially after the USA’s ‘Dream Team’ was allowed to participate in the Olympic games in 1992.

There were 23 players included in the NBA rosters in 1992 and that number kept rising to the day. In fact, the 2016-17 season featured record-high 113 international players from 41 countries while last season (2017-18), there were record-high 62 international players in the playoffs.

The team led by former player and assistant coach Dimtrije Curcic conducted a research focused on height evolution in the NBA and one part of the research specifically analyses the role of international players.

Intriguingly, according to the research, the major part of international players joining the NBA were occupying the ‘Big Man’ role and although that has changed slightly over time, the centers still take priority compared to other positions.

It also notes that, while the small ball revolution has greatly influenced the general profile of players, the international ‘Big Men’ were, in fact, the ones to pave the way for it due to their superior technical skills in addition to their height.