In the NBA Draft 2002, there was a record 17 international players were drafted with six in the first round. In the NBA Draft 2001, there were 11 international players drafted with five in the first round.

In the NBA Draft 2002, the top overall pick Yao Ming, who was selected by the Houston Rockets, became the highest draft pick to come directly to the NBA from an international basketball league or federation; the highest NBA Draft pick from China; and the sixth international player selected at number one.

In the NBA Draft 2001, the 2002 ‘got milk?’ Rookie of the Year Pau Gasol of Spain was drafted by the Atlanta Hawks as the third pick in the first round and traded to the Memphis Grizzlies during the NBA Draft 2001. As the third overall pick, Gasol became the highest draft pick to come to the NBA from an international basketball league.

The following is a list of top draft picks to come to the NBA from an international basketball league or a federation:

YEAR
NO.
NAME
COUNTRY
TEAM
PRO TEAM
2002
1
Yao Ming
China
Houston Rockets
Shanghai Sharks
2001
3
Pau Gasol
Spain
Memphis Grizzlies
F.C. Barcelona
1998
9
Dirk Nowitzki
Germany
Dallas Mavericks
DJK Wurzburg
2001
12
Vladimir Radmanovic
Serbia and Montenegro
Seattle SuperSonics
FMP Zeleznik
1996
14
Predrag Stojakovic
Serbia and Montenegro
Sacramento Kings
POAK
2000
16
Hidayet Turkoglu
Turkey
Sacramento Kings
Efes Pilsen

Since 1966, five international players, who competed in the NCAA, were selected as the number one pick:

YEAR
NAME
COUNTRY
TEAM
COLLEGE
1998
Michael Olowokandi
Nigeria
L.A Clippers
Pacific
1997
Tim Duncan
U.S.Virgin Islands
San Antonio
Wake Forest
1985
Patrick Ewing
Jamaica
New York Knicks
Georgetown
1984
Hakeem Olajuwon
Nigeria
Houston Rockets
Houston
1978
Mychal Thompson
Bahamas
Portland Trail Blazers
Minnesota