BOSTON – The NBA has become more of an international game as teams scour the globe in search of the next big basketball talent.
While some franchises such as the San Antonio Spurs have been poaching talented international players for years, other franchises have been more locked into adding American-born ballers.
The Boston Celtics have paid close attention to the best international players for several years.
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But more often than not, additions to their roster through the draft have come from the college ranks with an occasional international player added via free agency.
This season's team will definitely have a certain international flavor to it with overseas additions coming by way of players they drafted and signed as free agents to bolster what should be one of the deeper teams in the East.
Boston has six rookies with guaranteed contracts for this upcoming season, four of which were born outside of the United States.
And of those four rookies, three of them – Guerschon Yabusele (16th overall pick); Ante Zizic (23rd overall pick) and Abdel Nader; 58th overall pick) – were selected in the 2016 draft but didn't join the team immediately.
Yabusele who is originally from France, spent most of last season in China and came to the States and played briefly with the Celtic’s Gatorade League affiliate, the Maine Red Claws. He will be among the bevy of young players competing for minutes off the Celtics bench.
Zizic, born in Croatia, spent last season playing in his native country as well as in Turkey. The 7-foot center will come into training camp competing for playing time, possibly as Boston’s starting center.
And then there’s Nader, a G-League all-star as well as the G-League’s rookie of the year last season. The Egyptian-American wing player showed promise in each of the last two summer leagues which is in part why the Celtics signed him to a four-year, $6 million deal with only the first year fully guaranteed.
They each have different strengths that only add value to a Boston squad that’s being built to play just about every style of play imaginable.
But the Celtics didn’t limit their pursuit of international talent to just the draft.
Boston has also signed German Forward Daniel Theis.
Unlike the international players drafted by Boston, Theis is a bit of a mystery to most Celtics fans.
Last season he averaged 10.7 points and 4.6 rebounds for Brose Bamberg of Germany, while shooting 41.0 percent from 3-point range and 59.8 percent from the field.
And that season ended with a German championship, just like the previous two seasons for the 6-9, 243-pound forward who is expected to come in and compete for playing time off the bench for a Celtics team that’s looking for