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2014-15 NBA Season: 10 International Players With Big Opportunities

10 International Players Set For Important 2014-15 NBA Season

10 International Players Set For Important 2014-15 NBA Season
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With the 2014 FIBA World Cup getting underway at the end of August, there is going to be quality international basketball on display. Though many of the international players play overseas in various leagues throughout the world, there is a quality crop of non-American players in the NBA as well. Regardless of if these 10 international players are at or shine at the FIBA World Cup, they’ll have an impact on the 2014-15 NBA season.

10. Ricky Rubio

10. Ricky Rubio
Geoff Burke - USA Today Sports Images

10. Ricky Rubio

10. Ricky Rubio
Geoff Burke - USA Today Sports Images

While the Timberwolves may be working to try and build a future, they also face a big decision regarding Ricky Rubio. Rubio hasn’t developed at the expected rate offensively. He’s still a fantastic facilitator and defender, but his struggles scoring are a glaring issue. Playing with a young and likely unsuccessful team with a potential extension or new contract to be signed, Rubio will have to improve and step up.

9. Anderson Varejao

9. Anderson Varejao
David Richard - USA Today Sports Images

9. Anderson Varejao

9. Anderson Varejao
David Richard - USA Today Sports Images

Varejao has proven to be a valuable energy big-man when healthy. The problem is that now he’s expected to be the main guy in the middle for Cleveland and also to stay healthy. How he performs and how durable he is could very well have a huge impact on the Cavs’ season.

8. Jonas Valanciunas

8. Jonas Valanciunas
Tom Szczerbowski - USA Today Sports Images

8. Jonas Valanciunas

8. Jonas Valanciunas
Tom Szczerbowski - USA Today Sports Images

The Raptors elected to essentially stand-pat this summer and hope to build off of their playoff appearance last year. A big part of that reasoning may come from the expected development of Valanciunas at the center position. If he can improve offensively while maintaining his bruising and effective defense, Toronto could definitely continue to grow.

7. Goran Dragic

7. Goran Dragic
Howard Smith - USA Today Sports Images

7. Goran Dragic

7. Goran Dragic
Howard Smith - USA Today Sports Images

Dragic came on strong last season and was an undeniable star-caliber talent in Phoenix. As the Suns look to actually make the postseason this year and as Eric Bledsoe could possibly be traded midseason, Dragic has to maintain that level of play at the very least.

6. Dante Exum

6. Dante Exum
Brad Penner - USA Today Sports Images

6. Dante Exum

6. Dante Exum
Brad Penner - USA Today Sports Images

Exum is a rookie with little experience at anything near the NBA level, but he’s a breath of fresh air in Utah. Moreover, he has massive potential and could be a quality player. Considering the likely fate of this year’s Jazz team, Exum will be a big part in any success and any hope for the future.

5. Serge Ibaka

5. Serge Ibaka
Brad Penner - USA Today Sports Images

5. Serge Ibaka

5. Serge Ibaka
Brad Penner - USA Today Sports Images

Since the Thunder decided to not make many moves of consequence this offseason, the pressure is high on the stars, including Ibaka. Durant and Westbrook can grow as well, but the continued development of Ibaka as a versatile big man could be vital to the plight of OKC as they try to get back to the Finals.

4. Al Horford

4. Al Horford
Jerome Miron - USA Today Sports Images

4. Al Horford

4. Al Horford
Jerome Miron - USA Today Sports Images

The Hawks made the postseason last year even with Horford missing over half of the season. Now that they’ve added more weapons and will also get Horford back, Atlanta could very well be a sleeper in the East. Horford’s impact as one of the most underrated two-way big-men in the NBA is an integral part in that.

3. Dirk Nowitzki

3. Dirk Nowitzki
Troy Taormina - USA Today Sports Images

3. Dirk Nowitzki

3. Dirk Nowitzki
Troy Taormina - USA Today Sports Images

When you think of international stars, Dirk is certainly one of the first that comes to mind. He may be entering (or already be in) the twilight of his career, but he’s almost surely going to be a top star in the league once again and a huge part of the Mavericks’ success.

2. Nikola Mirotic

2. Nikola Mirotic
David Banks - USA Today Sports Images

2. Nikola Mirotic

2. Nikola Mirotic
David Banks - USA Today Sports Images

The arrival of Mirotic in Chicago has been ballyhooed for quite a while now. As he comes into a now-loaded frontcourt with the Bulls, Mirotic’s versatility on the offensive end of the floor could be huge for the Bulls and their likely title hopes.

1. Andrew Wiggins

1. Andrew Wiggins
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1. Andrew Wiggins

1. Andrew Wiggins
Getty Images

One of the things overlooked when talking about the number one pick from this year’s draft is the fact that he’s Canadian and, thus, an international prospect (even though he played at Kansas). Wiggins is going to be exciting and important to essentially not making the Timberwolves abandon all hope after losing Kevin Love.