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Another drop seen in foreign draftees

By Darnell Mayberry Published: June 24, 2006
The Hornets entered last season with three international players on their roster. Two were traded midway through the season, and the third is likely to be dealt before the start of next season.

Their departures represent a developing league-wide trend that has seen teams shy away from foreign talent. Wednesday night’s NBA Draft is expected to be the third straight draft in which there will be a decline in the amount of international players selected since a record 20 players from directly abroad were chosen in 2003.

The Hornets have the 12th and 15th selections in the first round and the 43rd pick of the second round. Those slots are much too late for the top international prospect, Andrea Bargnani of Italy, who is a projected top-three pick, and likely much too early for any of this year’s other international players.

“I don’t think there will be as many drafted in the first and second round as there has been in the past,” Hornets scout Kelly Bass said. “I don’t know if there’s any particular reason. I just think there may have been more quality players in other years.”

From 1996 to 2001, 37 players were selected from overseas. Several of those players - Dirk Nowitzki, Peja Stojakovic, Pau Gasol, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Andrei Kirilenko and Zydrunas Ilgauskas - became key pieces or all-stars on their teams.

From 2002 to 2005, 55 players were selected from abroad. Of those players, only former No. 1 overall pick Yao Ming, Nenad Krstic, Boris Diaw, Leandro Barbosa, Zaza Pachulia and Anderson Varejao have at least impacted their team.

Maciej Lampe, who the Hornets last season traded to the Rockets, was a projected lottery pick out of Poland in 2003, but he fell to the Knicks in the second round. He’s played for three teams and averaged just 3.4 points in only 64 career games. Bostjan Nachbar, who the Hornets traded to New Jersey, was selected 15th overall by the Houston Rockets in 2002. His career scoring average is 4.9 points in 166 games.

The Hornets are now left with Arvydas Macijauskas as their only international representative. Touted as one of the world’s best perimeter shooters, Macijauskas signed with the Hornets as a free agent last offseason. But he averaged only 2.

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Scouting the internationals

1. Andrea Bargnani, Italy, PF, 6-11, 240: Compared to Dirk Nowitzki because of his versatility, ball-handling and shooting.

2. Sergio Rodriguez, Spain, PG, 6-3, 180: Nicknamed “Spanish Chocolate,” as he is said to idolize and mimic Heat guard Jason Williams.

3. Thabo Sefolosha, Switzerland, SG, 6-6, 213: Known as a good wing player with versatility.

4. Oleksiy Pecherov, Ukraine, PF, 6-10, 232: Big man who plays inside and out with good shooting and ball-handling.

5. Mouhamed Saer Sene, Senegal, C, 7-0, 237: Thought of as a project with exceptional defensive traits.

6. Marcus Vinicius, Brazil, SF, 6-9, 235: One of the best perimeter shooters in the draft and is well-rounded offensively.

7. Joel Freeland, England, PF, 6-11, 225: Athletic and active 7-footer, but he doesn’t have much basketball experience.

8. Yotam Halperin, Israel, PG, 6-5, 200: Can play either guard spot as an equally good passer and shooter.

9. Damir Markota, Croatia, SF, 6-11, 240: Some team could select him and keep him overseas while he continues developing.

10. Vladimir Veremeenko, Russia, PF, 6-10, 230: Might be somewhat of a “tweener” in the NBA, meaning he doesn’t fit a typical position.

By Darnell Mayberry

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