Ranking The Top 20 International Players In NBA History

Top NBA International Players

The NBA is more of a global game now than ever before. At the start of the 2017-18 season, there were 108 international players on opening day rosters, with the addition of five two-way contract players. These players represent 42 different countries and territories, the most in the league’s history.

With the game of basketball spread around the world and players from all corners of the globe, there have been a number who have made a large impact in the United States. With that, here are the top 20 international players of all-time to play in the NBA.

Before we get to the rankings, here are five honorable mentions that just missed the cut.

Mehmet Okur (Turkey)
2002-11
Teams: Detroit, Utah, New Jersey
634 games, 13.5 PPG, 7 RPG, 1.7 APG, 45.8 FG %, 37.5 3 PT %

Known for his “Money” three-point shooting, Okur is the only Turkish player to be selected to an NBA All-Star team, achieving the feat during the 2006-07 season with Utah. He is also the only Turk to win an NBA championship, doing so as a member of the 2003-04 Detroit Pistons.

Rik Smits (Netherlands)
1989-2000
Teams: Indiana
867 games, 14.8 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 1.4 APG, 1.3 BPG, 50.7 FG %

The “Dunking Dutchman” as he was known, was named to the NBA’s All-Rookie First Team in 1989, and was selected to the 1998 All-Star team. In a career that spanned 12 seasons, Smits helped lead the Pacers to four Eastern Conference Finals and a trip to the 2000 NBA Finals.

Andrew Bogut (Australia)
2005-present
Teams: Milwaukee, Golden State, Dallas, Cleveland, LA Lakers
691 games, 9.8 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 2.2 APG, 1,6 BPG, 53.5 FG %

The No. 1 pick of the 2005 NBA Draft has had injuries derail his career, but still has been named All-Rookie First Team, Third Team All-NBA, and led the league in blocks. With Golden State, he anchored the defense of the 2014-15 NBA champions while being selected to the All-Defensive Second Team.

Luol Deng (South Sudan)
2004-present
Teams: Chicago, Cleveland, Miami, LA Lakers
880 games played, 15 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 2.3 APG, 45.5 FG %

Born in what is now South Sudan and a British citizen, Deng was a key piece of the Bulls during the first 10 seasons of his career. He was selected to back-to-back all-star teams (2012 & 2013) and named to the 2012 All-Defensive Second Team while helping lead Chicago to the 2011 Eastern Conference finals.

Drazen Petrovic (Croatia)
1989-93
Teams: Portland, New Jersey
290 games played, 15.4 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 2.4 APG, 50.6 FG %, 43.7 3 PT %

Unfortunately, we never were able to witness a full career from Petrovic, as he was killed in a tragic car accident following the 1992-93 season. He was named to the All-NBA Third Team following his last campaign, averaging 22.3 PPG with the Nets, and had the potential to be one of the greatest shooters of all-time.

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No. 20
Vlade Divac (Serbia)
1989-2005
Teams: LA Lakers, Charlotte, Sacramento
1134 games played, 11.8 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 3.1 APG, 1.4 BPG, 49.5 FG %

Divac might be most well known for being a piece of the trade that sent high school phenom Kobe Bryant to the Lakers in a draft day trade, while Divac landed in Charlotte.

After his Hornets stint, Vlade found a home in Sacramento, being a key contributor on the early 2000’s Kings teams that battled the Lakers to within one game of the 2002 NBA Finals. The 2001 All-Star had his jersey raised to the rafters by the Kings following his retirement.

No. 19
Andrei Kirilenko (Russia)   
2001-11, 2012-14
Teams: Utah, Minnesota, Brooklyn
797 games played, 11.8 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 2.7 APG, 1.4 SPG, 1.8 BPG

The first Russian ever selected in the first round of the NBA Draft, “AK-47” was one of the best all-around players during his prime. After being named to the All-Rookie First Team after his freshman campaign, Kirilenko blossomed into one of the best defenders in the league, being named to three All-Defensive Teams and leading the NBA in blocks in 2004-05. Kirilenko is also the only Russian to appear in an All-Star Game, which occurred in 2004.

No. 18
Al Horford (Dominican Rep.)
2007-present
Teams: Atlanta, Boston
680 games played, 14.3 PPG, 8.6 RPG, 3.1 APG, 1.2 BPG, 52.8 FG %

Horford anchored the front court of nine consecutive playoff teams during his Hawks tenure, being named to the All-NBA Third Team in 2011 and racking up four All-Star selections. Horford joined Boston prior to the 2016-17 season, and is looking to help lead them to the Eastern Conference title this season.

No. 17
Rolando Blackman (Panama)
1981-94
Teams: Dallas, New York
980 games played, 18 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 3 APG, 49.3 FG %, 84 FT %

Blackman was a key fixture during the 1980’s for the Mavericks, leading the team to six playoff appearances in a seven-year span. The four-time All-Star selection ended his career in New York, reaching the NBA Finals in 1994. At the time of his retirement, Blackman was the Mavs all-time leading scorer (now 2nd) and was honored with his No. 22 jersey being retired by Dallas.

No. 16
Toni Kukoc (Croatia)
1993-2006
Teams: Chicago, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Milwaukee
846 games played, 11.6 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 3.7 APG, 44.7 FG %

Kukoc didn’t come to the NBA until he was 25 years old, but made an immediate impact once he did. He was a key role player on the Michael Jordan-led Bulls, winning the Sixth Man of the Year award in 1996 while helping Chicago to three consecutive NBA titles (1996-98).

No. 15
Detlef Schrempf (Germany)
1985-2001
Teams: Dallas, Indiana, Seattle, Portland
1136 games played, 13.9 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 3.4 APG, 49.1 FG %, 38.4 3 PT %

Schrempf was a great all-around player who could score, rebound, and dish while knocking down the three, picking up back-to-back Sixth Man of the Year awards with the Pacers in 1991 and 1992. The three-time All-Star shot an astounding 51.4 percent from downtown during 1994-95 campaign and was named Third Team All-NBA, and helped the Sonics reach the NBA Finals in 1996.

No. 14
Marc Gasol (Spain)
2008-present
Teams: Memphis
677 games played, 15.1 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 3.3 APG, 1.5 BPG, 49.1 FG %

The younger brother of Pau Gasol, Marc has had a successful career in his own right in Memphis. A three-time All-Star selection has been the centerpiece of the “grit ‘n’ grind” Grizzlies era, leading the team to the conference finals in 2013 – the deepest playoff run in team history – while being named the NBA Defensive Player of the Year. During seven straight trips to the playoffs, Gasol has added two All-NBA selections and an All-Defensive team selection to his resume.

No. 13
Peja Stojakovic (Croatia)
1998-2011
Teams: Sacramento, Indiana, New Orleans, Toronto, Dallas
804 games played, 17 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 1.8 APG, 40.1 3 PT %, 89.5 FT %

Born in Croatia and of Serbian nationality, Peja was one of the top three-point shooters in the game during his peak. The three-time All-Star was named Second Team All-NBA following his career best 2003-04 campaign when he led the league in three-point percentage as a member of the Kings. After being a key player on the 2000’s Kings, Stojakovic added a championship ring to his resume as a member of the 2011 Dallas Mavericks. Sacramento honored him by retiring his No. 16 jersey in 2014.

No. 12
Kyrie Irving (Australia)
2011-present
Teams: Cleveland, Boston
416 games played, 21.9 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 5.5 APG, 1.3 SPG

Irving has a quite impressive resume from his first six seasons in Cleveland, being named to four All-Star teams and being selected to the All-NBA Third Team in 2015. The former Rookie of the Year and 2014 All-Star Game MVP hit the biggest shot in Cavs history, nailing the clincher in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals and giving the team its first championship. Now Irving is the main man in Boston, hoping to lead them to the Finals this season.

No. 11
Manu Ginobili (Argentina)
2002-present
Teams: San Antonio
1021 games played, 13.4 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 3.8 APG, 1.3 SPG, 44.7 FG

One of the members of the original “Big Three”, Ginobili has been a staple of four championship teams in San Antonio. Add in two All-Star selections, two All-NBA nods and the 2008 Sixth Man of the Year award, Manu is one of the most decorated players in Spurs history. Even at 40 years old, he is still a key contributor for San Antonio and is under contract until 2018-19.

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No. 10
Yao Ming (China)
2002-11
Teams: Houston
486 games played, 19 PPG, 9.2 RPG, 1.6 APG, 1.9 BPG, 52.4 FG %

We may have never been able to see Yao at his peak form due to injuries ended his career prematurely. Still, he was selected to eight All-Star teams and five All-NBA squads while being an ambassador of the game in his native China. Ming now has his No. 11 jersey retired in Houston and was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2016.

No. 9
Dikembe Mutombo (Congo)
1991-2009
Teams: Denver, Atlanta, Philadelphia, New Jersey, New York, Houston
1196 games played, 9.8 PPG, 10.3 RPG, 1 APG, 2.8 BPG, 51.8 FG %

Mutombo is one of the games all-time greatest defenders, winning four Defensive Player of the Year awards while being known for his finger wag following a blocked shot. The eight-time All-Star is the second leading shot blocker in NBA history and has the distinction of having his number retired by two franchises that he played for (Nuggets and Hawks). The three-time All-NBA pick and six-time All-Defensive team member was enshrined into the Hall of Fame in 2015.

No. 8
Pau Gasol (Spain)
2001-present
Teams: Memphis, LA Lakers, Chicago, San Antonio
1152 games played, 17.7 PPG, 9.4 RPG, 3.2 APG, 1.6 BPG, 51 FG %

Gasol started his career in Memphis, taking home Rookie of the Year honors in 2002 and led the team to its first playoff appearance in 2004. The six-time All-Star who has been named to four All-NBA teams then spent seven seasons in Los Angeles, winning two championships playing alongside Kobe Bryant. The 17th year big man is still a serviceable rotation player in San Antonio, and should find himself in the Hall of Fame once he calls it a career.

No. 7
Tony Parker (Belgium)
2002-present
Teams: San Antonio
1155 games played, 16.1 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 5.8 APG, 49 FG %

Born in Belgium and a member of the French national team, Parker has run the point in San Antonio since the beginning of his career, teaming up with Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili on four title-winning Spurs teams, taking home Finals MVP for his performance in the 2007 Finals. The six-time All-Star selection and four-time All-NBA pick is still a key member of the Spurs and has never missed the postseason during his illustrious career.

No. 6
Dominique Wilkins (France)
1982-95, 96-97, 1999
Teams: Atlanta, LA Clippers, Boston, San Antonio, Orlando
1074 games played, 24.8 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 2.5 APG, 1.3 SPG

Wilkins, famously dubbed “The Human Highlight Film” for his spectacular dunks while playing in Atlanta and his two victories in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest, was named to nine All-Star teams and was a seven-time All-NBA selection during a 15-year career. Known as a prolific scorer, ‘Nique led the league in scoring in 1985-86, and is the all-time leader in points for the Hawks. His No. 21 jersey is retired in Atlanta and he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2006.

No. 5
Patrick Ewing (Jamaica)
1985-2002
Teams: New York, Seattle, Orlando
1183 games played, 21 PPG, 9.8 RPG, 1.9 APG, 2.4 BPG, 50.4 FG %

Ewing entered the league out of Georgetown and made an immediate impact for New York, winning Rookie of the Year in 1986.  An 11-time All-Star and seven-time All-NBA selection, Ewing was one of the best big men in the league during his career, helping lead the Knicks to two NBA Finals appearances while being named a three-time All-Defensive Team pick. Patrick was named one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History in 1997, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2008.

No. 4
Steve Nash (South Africa)
1996-2015
Teams: Phoenix, Dallas, LA Lakers
1217 games played, 14.3 PPG, 3 RPG, 8.5 APG, 49 FG %, 90.4 FT %

Born in South Africa and raised in Canada, Nash was part of the loaded 1996 NBA Draft class. The eight-time All-Star and seven-time All-NBA selection is most known for leading the “seven seconds or less” Phoenix Suns offense in the mid-2000’s, taking home back-to-back MVP awards during the 2004-05 and 2005-06 seasons. He led the league in assists five times during his career, finishing third on the NBA all-time assists chart. Nash’s jersey was retired by Phoenix in 2015, and he is eligible for Hall of Fame enshrinement in 2018.

No. 3
Dirk Nowitzki (Germany)
1998-present
Team: Dallas
1429 games played, 21.5 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 2.5 APG, 47.3 FG %, 38.3 3 PT %

Undoubtedly the best player in Mavericks history, Dirk became a member of the prestigious 30,000 points club in 2017, becoming just the sixth player in league history to do so. Add in 13 All-Star appearances and 12 All-NBA selections to his resume and he is a surefire first ballot Hall of Famer. The 2006-07 MVP led Dallas to a 2011 NBA Finals victory over the Heat, winning his only ring and taking home Finals MVP honors.

No. 2
Hakeem Olajuwon (Nigeria)
1984-2002
Teams: Houston, Toronto
1238 games played, 21.8 PPG, 11.1 RPG, 2.5 APG, 3.1 BPG, 51.2 FG %

The seven-footer from Nigeria is one of the top centers of all-time, being named a 12-time All-Star and 12-time All-NBA pick. “Hakeem the Dream” was one of the top defenders in the league during his prime, receiving nine All-Defensive Team selections and picking up two Defensive Player of the Year awards. To cap it all off, Olajuwon was named MVP for the 1993-94 season, and won two championships with the Rockets, winning Finals MVP on both occasions. The NBA’s all-time blocks leader was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2008.

No. 1
Tim Duncan (U.S. Virgin Islands)
1997-2016
Teams: San Antonio
1392 games played, 19 PPG, 10.8 RPG, 3 APG, 2.2 BPG, 50.6 FG %

Without question, Duncan is one of the greatest players of all-time following an illustrious career that spanned 19 seasons. Taken by the Spurs with the No. 1 pick in the 1997 NBA Draft, he took home Rookie of the Year honors in his first season.

The 15-time All-Star was named MVP of the All-Star Game in 2000, and was selected to an NBA record 15 All-NBA teams. Not only was Duncan a force on offense, he was also selected to 15 All-Defensive Teams, while being named MVP in back-to-back seasons (2002 & 2003). The crowning achievement of his career that cements his spot at the top of this list is being a five-time NBA champion, winning the Finals MVP three times. After his career ended, the Spurs raised his No. 21 jersey to the rafters at the AT&T Center, and now he awaits Hall of Fame induction in 2019.

* Statistics as of December 29, 2017.

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