2014-15 NBA Season: Brazilian Players Among Most Talented Players to Watch
There's no denying that soccer is the most popular sport in most of Latin American.
In recent decades, basketball has been gaining extreme popularity in many South American nations. With the increasing international popularity of basketball, and the NBA season set to tip off in less than a week, we list the top Brazilian-born players to watch this NBA season.
Here are four players to keep an eye on this NBA season:
What a terrific four-year career Splitter has had so far in the NBA. Splitter was drafted in the first round by the San Antonio Spurs, and last season he helped the team win an NBA Championship over the Miami Heat and LeBron James. Even before that, Splitter helped the Spurs reach the 2013 NBA Finals. Splitter stands 6-foot-11 with a wide wing span for rebounds and blocks. Splitter, paired with Tim Duncan, have become one of the best front-court tandems in the entire league.
In his four seasons with the Spurs, Splitter is shooting an outstanding 56.1 percent from the field and shooting an incredible 68 percent from the free throw line, very high for a center. Still just 29 years of age, Splitter has a bright future ahead of him.
One of the most underrated players of the 21st century, Nene has been an outstanding forward for years. Nene played 10 long memorable seasons with the Denver Nuggets, grabbing tons of rebounds and rejecting whoever came near the basket. Nene has 605 career blocks, the most ever by a Brazilian-born player in NBA history. Nene has been a member of the Washington Wizards since the 2012 season. Even just last season, Nene averaged 14.2 points per game, shooting 50.3 percent from the field.
Nene has been a great motivator for young basketball fans playing for the Brazilian National Team, being a good teammate and even beating cancer.
Of course, the greatest Brazilian passer in NBA history had to make our list. The "Brazilian Blur" has 1,513 career assists, the most of any Brazilian in NBA history. Barbosa made his mark with the Phoenix Suns from 2003 to 2010. From 2005 to 2011, Barbosa was a great all-around player who could score, pass, rebound and hit free throws among the best in the league.
Last season was a rough one for Barbosa because of a bad ankle injury, but the Golden State Warriors decided to give him a chance. Most likely he will be coming off the bench, but Barbosa could be the missing piece for the Warriors' postseason puzzle.
Anderson Varejao has played his entire 10-year career with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Standing 6-foot-10 (not including the hair), this tall and lengthy center has a big responsibility next season. LeBron James is back with his former team, and this squad has championship aspirations. Varejao did help guide the Cavaliers to the 2007 NBA Finals, but lost to the Spurs. Varejao averages 7.8 rebounds per game, the highest of any Brazilian-born player in NBA history.
This upcoming season, Varejao and Kevin Love have high expectations in a weak Eastern Conference. With Love's scoring abilities and Varejao's rebounding skills, the Cavaliers could have a very powerful front-court.
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