Are teams cooling on international teens?

Updated: November 19, 2004, 11:41 AM ET
By Chad Ford | ESPN Insider
Darko Milicic sits at the end of the bench in Detroit twiddling his thumbs, waiting for head coach Larry Brown to call his name. He may hear it tonight – if the Pistons are up by 20 points with two minutes to go in the game.

Otherwise, he's out of luck. He's also not alone.

The international revolution in the NBA draft began two summers ago, when a record eight foreign players were taken in the first round. This summer, the numbers slipped a little bit, but another six international players went in the first round.

What do those fourteen players all have in common? Lots of "DNP – coach's decisions." Of the international players taken in the 2003 draft, only three – Boris Diaw, Zoran Planinic and Carlos Delfino– are getting regular minutes. This year's class? Only Beno Udrih, who was the 28th player selected in the draft, is playing meaningful minutes.

That's 4-for-14, not what you'd call an impressive track record.

NBA GMs who were predicting an international explosion just two years ago are backing off now. A backlash appears to be brewing despite the claim by several top international scouts that this year's draft crop is the deepest they've ever seen.

Many GMs no longer want to hear it.

Chad Ford

ESPN Senior Writer