The Toronto Raptors picked Andrea Bargnani as the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft in New York on Wednesday, becoming the first European player and the third international rookie taken first overall in the new century.
The 2.13-meter forward has drawn those comparisons to the Dallas Mavericks' All-Star Dirk Nowitzki for his outside shooting skills. Playing last season for Benetton Treviso in Italy, Bargnani shot 37 percent from 3-point range.
He followed China's Yao Ming in 2002 and Austrlian Andrew Bogut in 2005 to become the third foreign-born No. 1 pick.
"This is the best league in the world," Bargnani said to ESPN. "I'm so proud to represent my country."
The 20-year-old was far from a sure draft, but Raptors general manager Bryan Colangelo decided he was the best choice in a draft which lacked star power.
Chicago chose forward LaMarcus Aldridge from University of Texas with the second pick, one of the Bulls' two selections in the first round.
Gonzaga University star Adam Morrison was picked by Charlotte at No. 3 with the Bobcats' first since Michael Jordan became a part owner of the team in charge of the basketball operations this month.
The forward led U.S. college play in scoring with 28.1 points per game.
The Portland Trail Blazers selected Louisiana State University forward Tyrus Thomas, who led the South East Conference in blocked shots and was second in rebounding last season.