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Guess Who’s Next in the NBA? Detlef Schrempf Weighs In!


Detlef Schrempf has gotten a front row seat to watch the European takeover in the NBA.

NBA All-Star weekend attracts all of the biggest names in the game, whether it be the bright young stars leading the way currently, or the ones of the league’s past. Thanks to the National Basketball Retired Players Association (NBRPA), ClutchPoints had the opportunity to speak with former three-time NBA All-Star Detlef Schrempf.

Schrempf spent four-and-a-half seasons of his career with the Indiana Pacers, who hosted the 2024 All-Star festivities, and he had plenty of memorable moments with the Pacers. Schrempf was one of those rare international players that came into an NBA that didn’t feature a ton of guys from outside of the United States back in the 1980s and 90s. Now, it’s common for every NBA roster to have at least two guys that aren’t American born players suiting up for them on a nightly basis.

Detlef Schrempf explains the international takeover in the NBA

Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) and Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) in the second quarter at Ball Arena.
Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Stars in the NBA are coming in from all over the world nowadays. Luka Doncic, Joel Embiid, and Nikola Jokic are arguably three of the top five players in the league, and there are a handful of other top-tier players who aren’t from the United States. In a sense, many American born stars are on the outside looking in when it comes to the list of the best players in the NBA currently.

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“We’ve lost a little bit of our advantage here in the states,” Schrempf said. “In Europe, if you have talent, the passion, and the time, you can practice as much as you want. I practice on three teams growing up. My age group, the group above me, and the men’s team. Here, at the high school and college level you’re restricted. You’ve got two hours to practice a week. And than guys hang out or play Xbox for eight hours.”

In the states, there are more AAU circuit tournaments than practices. Getting extra time in the gym appears to be a lot more accessible for kids overseas according to Schrempf.

“In Europe, you don’t have those restrictions. These guys are in the gym. Shooting practice in the morning, individual practice, and then team practice. They’re also taught how to play basketball. Not just dribble and shoot the ball, but read situations.”

There’s a system in place to breed even more international stars

As mentioned above, there was not an influx of international talent during Schrempf’s time in the league. In the 1980-81 season, only 1.7 percent of players in the league were born outside of the U.S. Schrempf entered the league when international guys didn’t have the same kind of spotlight that they do today.

“When I came in I was kind of by myself. I didn’t have a support group, guys to call, rely on, or help me out when your down. The international players are all together as a group that supports each other.”

At the start of the 2023-24 season there was a record breaking 125 international players that started the season on a team’s roster, and that number will only continue to grow in future seasons. With different NBA affiliated programs teaching the youth in other countries more about the game of basketball, that will conversely lead to more exposure for the NBA, and of course, similar programs exist in the states as well. With all that being said, it looks like the American’s are going to have apply themselves a little more to tip the scales back in their favor.

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