Arsalan Kazemi, a 6′ 7″ power forward who is renown for his rebounding prowess, has been drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers with the 54th overall pick of the 2013 NBA draft. In being drafted, the former Oregon Ducks standout who was ranked as one of the top five NBA draft prospects by SLAM magazine becomes the first Iranian to drafted, although the title of first Iranian to play in the NBA belongs to Hamed Haddadi, who had played with the Memphis Grizzlies. I believe the real mark Kazemi will make on the hearts of NBA fans will not be due to his being the first Iranian NBA draft but due rather to the legacy he will leave behind as a good person who cared about the community and as a great player.
Although some have expressed concern about his offensive game, most will agree that Kazemi is a stand-up guy. As his Oregon Ducks coach, Dana Altman, said of him, “There’s absolutely no doubt about his character. He graduated right on time. He’s a bright, articulate young man. Very good work ethic. He’s not afraid to put the hours in.”
Kazemi is also a rebounding machine. While a Duck, Kazemi led the country in defensive rebounding percentage. That year his team made it to The Sweet 16.
The Sixer’s GM, Sam Hinkie, always knew he was going to draft Kazemi. “Arsalan is a player we were interested in, even early in the second round,” said Hinkie, who nevertheless traded down in the second round three times as he stockpiled two second-round picks in the 2014 draft while ultimately getting Kazemi with the 54th overall selection. “We always moved with one goal: We were never not going to have a pick in the second round. We never were going to put ourselves in a position to not get Arsalan.”