It’s no secret that the San Antonio Spurs have been one of the most successful and active teams in international scouting well over the last decade.
While the Spurs’ due diligence has netted them current Spurs like Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, Tiago Splitter and Nando De Colo via the draft, they’ve also had their share of international projects that ever seemed to meet their potential in silver and black, most notably being Beno Udrih and Ian Mahinmi.
The Spurs have recently been rumored to be in the process of signing Australian big man Aron Baynes in what could be an underrated signing that could provide the Spurs with some much-needed size up front.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich addressed the international invasion in the NBA and the differences in international scouting now and in the past before last night’s game against a Minnesota Timberwolves team whose roster is peppered with foreign players.
“Nobody’s hidden anymore. I think everybody knows where the players are. Foreign players are all over the place in the NBA because they're good players,” Popovich said. “If there's a player that can play out there, teams go after him, no matter what country he's from. It's just a fact.”
This couldn’t ring more true for the Spurs, who could be days away from adding their second Aussie on the roster with Baynes.
While the Spurs scouting department has always been considered one of the best for plucking young international talent, as Popovich said, it’s no longer a secret that NBA talent reaches far past the edges of the United States borders.
“20 years ago it was a different deal. People had a lot of prejudices for whatever reasons. Guys don't speak the language, guys won't adjust socially, they won't like it here, they don't play defense. You know whatever it was way back when, well all that stuff's out the window,” Popovich said. “Now there's foreign players that come and fail just like some American kids fail and theres some that end up being super players just like the American kids, so its just a bigger group from which one can pick these days, that's for sure.”
Nando De Colo seems to be on the path to what Popovich calls a “super player” early on in his NBA career, and while plenty in San Antonio see potential in Baynes, nobody really knows if these two international talents will go the way of Ginobili or Udrih. But regardless of the outcome, one thing is clear, the Spurs have enough International success to keep taking risks overseas. They’ve done as much recently with young players like Adam Hanga and Davis Bertans flourishing overseas.
Paul Garcia contributed to this post.