As Draft Nears, NBA Looks to Africa for Latest Pool of Talent

  • Last year, the NBA launched NBA Africa and the Basketball Africa league.
  • Since 2018, no former NCAA player has won the league’s MVP award.

Known for its international reach, the NBA has turned its attention toward Africa to find its latest influx of talent. 

The NBA has established a footprint on the continent through NBA Africa, an entity launched in May 2021 valued at “nearly $1 billion,” according to NBA commissioner Adam Silver. 

NBA Africa aims to expand media rights throughout the continent and establish corporate partnerships, NBA academies, and social initiatives. 

It also oversees the Basketball Africa League, a 12-team pro league that launched last year. 

  • The BAL is a joint venture between the NBA and FIBA, basketball’s global governing body.
  • This past season, it reached more than 200 countries across NBA TV, ESPN, TSN, and Tencent Sports. 

Investors in NBA Africa include former NBA players Dikembe Mutombo, Grant Hill, and Luol Deng, and Helios Fairfax Partners, an investment holding company that works with African businesses.

The NBA’s growing international presence and investments have directly correlated to its on-court product. Since 2018, no former NCAA player has won the league’s MVP award.

The 2022 NBA Draft tips off at 7:30 p.m. ET on Thursday.

NFL Takes Note

The NFL has also turned its attention to Africa for the first time. Earlier this month, the league announced it will host events in Ghana including a talent identification camp, fan event, and flag football clinic. The event began June 21.

The NFL is looking at future events and camps in Nigeria and other African countries.