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Rating the ten best African NBA players ever to play the sport

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The NBA (National Basketball Association) is arguably the preferred league within the USA and the most effective globally. The basketball league has produced legendary athletes like Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Lebron James, and the perfect African NBA players.

Africa has produced great players within the NBA, including Dikembe Mutombo (L), Giannis Antetokounmpo (C), and Hakeem Olajuwon (R). Photo: Deal with Sport, Jeff Haynes (modified by writer)
Source: Getty Images

Africa has produced many legendary NBA stars who’ve made history within the league. They include players who’re residents of an African nation or those with African roots.

Best African NBA players of all time

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Hakeem Olajuwon, and Dikembe Mutombo are amongst the perfect African basketball stars within the American league. Their exceptional talents and achievements helped them shine within the basketball league and win quite a few awards and trophies.

What number of African NBA players are within the NBA?

PlayerTeamNationality
Hakeem OlajuwonRetiredNigerian
Dikembe MutomboRetiredCongolese, American
Giannis AntetokounmpoMilwaukee BucksGreek, Nigerian
Joel EmbiidPhiladelphia 76ers American, Cameroonian, French
Pascal SiakamToronto RaptorsCameroonian
Andre IguodalaGolden State WarriorsAmerican, Nigerian
Serge IbakaMilwaukee BucksCongolese, Spanish
Luol DengRetiredBritish, South Sudanese
Festus EzeliFree agentAmerican, Nigerian
Didier Ilunga-MbengaRetiredBelgian, Congolese

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The above players were born and raised in Africa before moving to the USA to play basketball within the NBA. Below are details about them, including the teams they played for and their achievements.

10. Didier Ilunga-Mbenga

Best African NBA playersDJ Mbenga, the #28 of the Los Angeles Lakers against the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena on thirty first March 2010, in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo: Kevin C. Cox
Source: Getty Images

Mbenga was born and raised in Kinshasa, Zaire (Democratic Republic of Congo). His family moved to Belgium, where they got asylum following unrest in Congo. He played in NBA for Dallas Mavericks, Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Lakers, and Recent Orleans Hornets. Mbenga won two NBA Championships.

9. Festus Ezeli

Current African NBA playersFestus Ezeli, the #31 of the Portland Trail Blazers looks on before a pre-season NBA game against the Utah Jazz on third October 2016 on the Moda Center Arena in Portland, Oregon. Photo by Sam Forencich
Source: Getty Images

The Nigerian-born basketball star was drafted into the NBA in 2012 but lost two seasons as a result of injuries. He starred for the Golden State Warriors and won an NBA Championship in 2015, averaging 9.2 minutes per game over 20 matches within the Playoffs.

8. Luol Deng

Best African NBA players of all timeLuol Deng, the #9 of the Minnesota Timberwolves shoots a free throw against the Memphis Grizzlies on thirtieth January 2019, at Goal Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Photo: David Sherman
Source: Getty Images

Deng, who hails from South Sudan, is among the many few African-born stars chosen as an All-Star. He represented the Eastern Conference in 2012 and 2013 while with Chicago Bulls. Luol Deng was picked by the Phoenix Suns within the seventh pick on the 2004 Draft but was sent to the Bulls the identical day. He later played for Miami Heat, Los Angeles Lakers, and Minnesota Timberwolves before retiring.

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7. Serge Ibaka

Best African NBA players of all timeSerge Ibaka (25) of the Milwaukee Bucks dunks the ball in the course of the game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on sixteenth November 2022, on the Fiserv Forum Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Photo: Gary Dineen
Source: Getty Images

Ibaka plays as an influence forward/centre for Milwaukee Bucks within the NBA. He ranks amongst the perfect African NBA players in 2022. He was drafted twenty fourth overall by the Seattle SuperSonics (Oklahoma City Thunder) in 2009.

Serge also played for Orlando Magic, Toronto Raptors, and Los Angeles Clippers and won one NBA Championship. He was born and bred in Brazzaville, Congo, and moved to France aged 17 to pursue his dream of playing skilled basketball.

6. Andre Iguodala

How many African NBA players are there?Andre Iguodala (9) of the Golden State Warriors dribbles the ball against the Indiana Pacers on twentieth January 2022, at Chase Center in San Francisco, California. Photo: Noah Graham
Source: Getty Images

Andre was born to an African-American mother and a Nigerian father in Springfield, Illinois. He’s by far essentially the most successful African NBA star. Iguodala won three championships with the Golden State Warriors and was named the finals MVP in 2015. He was also included in NBA All-Star in 2012.

Andre returned to the Warriors in September 2022 for the 2022-23 season after spending two years with the Miami Heat.

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5. Pascal Siakam

Who is the best African NBA player of all time?Pascal Siakam of the Toronto Raptors prepares to shoot a free throw in the course of the game against the Brooklyn Nets on 2nd December 2022, at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, Recent York. Photo: Nathaniel S. Butler
Source: Getty Images

The Cameroonian-born power forward has proved his talent on the court. He was drafted twenty seventh overall by the Raptors in 2016. Nonetheless, Pascal immediately joined Toronto’s G-league team, where he won a championship and finals MVP before returning to the Raptors. In 2018, he was named the most-improved player in NBA before helping the Raptors clinch the 2019 NBA title.

4. Joel Embiid

Current African NBA playersJoel Embiid (21) of the Philadelphia 76ers warms up before the sport against the Memphis Grizzlies at FedExForum on 2nd December 2022, in Memphis, Tennessee. Photo: Justin Ford
Source: Getty Images

Embiid is one other Cameroonian basketball star within the NBA. He plays as a centre for the Philadelphia 76ers. Joel Embiid was born in Yaounde and later moved to the US at age 16 to pursue his basketball dreams.

In 2014, the talented centre was drafted because the third overall pick by the 76ers, but injuries slowed him down. Embiid has been named to each All-Star team since 2018 (3) and twice to the All-NBA second team. He also appeared twice in NBA all-defensive second team and the 2017 all-rookie first team. The Cameroonian finished because the 2022 MVP runner-up, losing to the Nuggets’ star, Nikola Jokic.

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3. Giannis Antetokounmpo

NBA players from Africa in 2022Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) of the Milwaukee Bucks in the course of the game against the Los Angeles Lakers on 2nd December 2022, on the Fiserv Forum Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Photo: Jeff Haynes
Source: Getty Images

Considered by many the perfect NBA player within the 2022-2023 season, Giannis Antetokounmpo is thought for his explosive playing style. He was born in Athens, Greece, to Nigerian parents. His NBA record has been impressive since he was picked fifteenth overall in 2013 by Milwaukee Bucks.

Antetokounmpo is a 4-time All-Star and made the all-NBA first team once. As well as, he made the all-NBA second team twice and was named essentially the most improved player in 2017. The Greek Freak is currently leading the race to win the 2022-2023 MVP award after putting up an excellent performance within the league.

2. Dikembe Mutombo

African NBA playersDikembe Mutombo (55) of the Denver Nuggets looks on against the Washington Bullets during an NBA basketball game circa 1991 on the Capital Centre in Landover, Maryland. Photo: Deal with Sport
Source: Getty Images

Mutombo starred within the NBA for 18 seasons between 1991 and 2009. He’s a Congolese-American basketball legend who won multiple awards for his remarkable performance. Dikembe was named an All-Star eight times, an All-NBA Team 3 times, and a four-time NBA Defensive Player of the 12 months, amongst others.

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The retired centre played for Denver Nuggets, Atlanta Hawks, Philadelphia 76ers, Recent Jersey Nets, Recent York Knicks, and Houston Rockets.

Who’s the perfect African NBA player of all time?

Best African NBA players of all timeHakeem Olajuwon (34) of the Houston Rockets looks to pass the ball against the Washington Bullets circa 1987 on the Capital Centre in Landover, Maryland. Photo: Deal with Sport
Source: Getty Images

Legendary Hakeem Olajuwon tops our list of best African players within the NBA. He reportedly played 1,238 games for Houston Rockets and Toronto Raptors within the league and grabbed several awards and trophies.

1. Hakeem Olajuwon

Olajuwon won two Championships with the Rockets (1994, 1995) and was named MVP on each occasions. He was also named MVP of the NBA regular season in 1994. The Nigerian-American legend was also named to the All-NBA Team 12 times.

The Lagos-born legend registered 3, 830 profession blocks, which stays essentially the most by any player within the history of the NBA. Hakeem grew up playing soccer in Nigeria before switching careers to basketball.

NBA players from Africa in 2022

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Eight African players got picked within the 2022 NBA draft. They include Christian Koloko of Cameroon, Senegal’s Khalifa Diop, and Ochai Agbaji, with Nigerian ties.

PlayerTeamPickNationality
Ousmane Dieng Recent York Knickseleventh overallFrance, Senegal
Ochai AgbajiWashington Wizards14th overallUSA, Nigeria
Mark WilliamsCharlotte Hornetsfifteenth overallUSA, Nigeria
Christian KolokoToronto Raptorsthirty third overallCameroon
Khalifa DiopCleveland Cavaliersthirty ninth overallSenegal
Moussa DiabateLA Clippersforty third overallFrance, Guinea, Mali
Ismael KamagateDetroit Pistonsforty sixth overallFrance, Ivory Coast
Yannick NzosaWashington Wizards54th overallDRC

As observed, most of the perfect African NBA players have dual citizenship. Only just a few have represented their African national teams. Although basketball isn’t amongst Africa’s popular sports, the continent continues to supply unique talents who join the NBA.

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