What does it mean to be a top ‘African’ basketball player in the NBA?
Who are the top African basketball players in the NBA? Great question. We have the answers. In this article, we will look at players that were either born in the continent of Africa or who have parents of African descent? There have been many well-known names who have been born in Africa in the past such as Hakeem Olajuwon, Dikembe Mutombo, and even Steve Nash (South Africa).
In recent years, the NBA has expanded their scouting and even has recently created a new African league. With this, we should see an increase in African players who should be drafted. This list is slated to expand and grow as the NBA expands its scouting presence in Africa.
So keep in mind that this list is current.
Our Top 10 African basketball Players in the NBA
10. Bismack Biyombo – Charlotte Hornets
Current Team: Charlotte Hornets
Coming in at number 10 on our list of top African basketball players in the NBA is Bismack Biyombo. Born in the Republic of Congo. He gained lots of interest by NBA scouts when he took part in the NBA Hoop Summit and got the first ever triple-double in that event. In 2011, he was drafted 7th overall by the Sacramento Kings and traded to the Charlotte Bobcats (now Hornets) on draft night. In 2015, Bismack signed with the Toronto Raptors where he showed great potential and went on to sign a huge contract with the Orlando Magic in 2016. In 2018, Orlando traded him back to Charlotte.
9. Ian Mahinmi
Current Team: Washington Wizards
Coming in at number 9 on our list of top African basketball players in the NBA is Ian Mahinmi. Born in the Republic of Benin and immigrated to France with his family. Ian has had a great career as a role player for all the teams he has been with. Ian was drafted 28th overall in the 2005 NBA Draft by the San Antonio Spurs. He was then traded to the Dallas Mavericks where he won an NBA Championship. In 2012, he was traded to the Indiana Pacers where he had his best years in the NBA. In 2016, Ian was a free agent and choose to sign with the Washington Wizards.
8. Emmanuel Mudiay
Current Team: New York Knicks
Coming in at number 8 on our list of top African basketball players in the NBA is Emmanuel Mudiay. Born in the Republic of Congo. Emmanuel did not want to attend an American college although he was offered scholarships. He chose to go play professional basketball in China and was drafted the 7th pick by Denver Nuggets. Emmanuel is still young in the NBA at only 23 years old and has shown some potential. In 2018, he was traded to the New York Knicks and in 2019 had a career year. Emmanuel has a chance to grow on this list as years come.
7. Al-Farouq Aminu
Current Team: Portland Trail Blazers
Coming in at number 7 on our list of top African basketball players in the NBA is Al-Farouq Aminu. Born in Atlanta to Nigerian parents. Al has represented Nigeria in the NBA African games. Al was drafted 8th overall in the 2010 NBA Draft by the Los Angeles Clippers. His career started off slow and was traded to the New Orleans Pelicans (2011-14), and signed with Dallas Mavericks (2014-15). He then signed with the Portland Trail Blazers in which he quickly impressed his coaches and became the starting forward. In addition to the NBA, Aminu represents Nigeria in the Olympics
6. Evan Fournier
Current Team: Orlando Magic
Coming in at number 6 on our list of top African basketball players in the NBA is Evan Fournier. Born in France to Algerian parents. He has represented Algeria in the NBA African game. Evan Fournier was drafted in the 2012 NBA Draft by the Denver Nuggets. He was traded in 2014 to the Orlando Magic. Evan has shown great potential in his career and has been an excellent 3 point shooter. In 2019, he took a young Orlando Magic team into the playoffs.
5. Serge Ibaka
Current Team: Toronto Raptors
Coming in at number 5 on our list of top African basketball players in the NBA is Serge Ibaka. Born in the Republic of the Congo, and 3rd youngest of 18 kids. Serge starting playing basketball at a young age and at the age of 17 moved to France to play professional basketball. He soon moved to Spain where he became a citizen and played for Baxi Manresa. The Oklahoma City Thunder draft Serge Ibaka. Shortly into his career, the team reached the NBA Finals. In 2016, he was traded to the Orlando Magic up until the NBA trade deadline. His stay in Orlando was short-lived as the team traded him to the Toronto Raptors the same year. In his career, Serge has been a 3x All-Defensive First Team member from 2012-14 and the lead leader in blocks from 2012-13. Additionally, he represented Spain in the 2012 Olympics and won a silver medal.
4. Pascal ‘Spicy P’ Siakam
Current Team: Toronto Raptors
Coming in at number 4 on our list of top African basketball players in the NBA is yet another Toronto Raptor: Pascal Siakam. Born in Cameroon and playing soccer most of his young life Pascal first started playing basketball at a later age. He attended university at New Mexico State from 2014-2016. Not much was known about Pascal when he entered the NBA draft and many people were shocked when the Toronto Raptors selected Pascal 27th pick in the 2016 draft. Pascal spent much of his 2017 season with the Raptors G-League team in which he won a Championship. In 2018-19 Pascals career turned into a great one. He was talked about around the league and is a Most Improved Player candidate
Read more about Pascal Siakam here.
3. Victor Oladipo
Current Team: Indiana Pacers
Coming in at number 3 on our list of top African basketball players in the NBA is Victor Oladipo. Born to Nigerian parents. He went to the college of Indiana and was drafted 2nd pick in the 2013 NBA draft by Orlando Magic. Victor had a perfect rookie season which led him to the all-rookie team and spent three years with Magic before getting traded to Oklahoma City Thunder. While his time as a Thunder was short, he was recognized for his potential and was traded to Indiana for an NBA star Paul George. In Indiana, Victor felt like home and became a 2-time all-star, NBA all-defensive team member, and the 2018 NBA most improved player. In 2019, he suffered an injury that will likely keep him out of the 2019-20 preseason.
2. Joel Embiid
Current Team: Philadelphia 76ers
Coming in at number 2 on our list of top African basketball players in the NBA is Joel Embiid. Joel Embiid was born in Cameroon. He had never spoken any English in his life and was offered to move to the United States and attend Kansas State. While there he asked coach Bill Self if he can be redshirted because he did not understand any English. Bill Self did not allow this and told Joel, you have the potential to be a star why would I bench you. Joel went on to enter the draft and was selected 3rd pick. In his first 2 seasons he was injured and unable to play. NBA media regularly made jokes about him never playing was heard around the league, but it didn’t stop Joel. He turned a last-place team into a playoff team and is now a 2-time all-star.
1. Giannis Antetokounmpo
Current Team: Milwaukee Bucks
Finally coming in at number 1 on our list of top African basketball players in the NBA is The Greek Freak! Giannis was born in Greece to Nigerian parents. His parents left Nigeria 3 years before he was born and found a home in Greece. In the first 18 years, Giannis did not qualify as a Greece citizen and was there for country less. Giannis has taken the NBA by storm and has created a name for himself around the world. With hard work and dedication, he has become an MVP candidate. It wasn’t until his 3rd year in which his parents came to the United States on a VISA. Giannis has considered leaving the NBA if his family couldn’t move with him and when they did move Giannis the star was made.
Basketball in Africa will continue to grow and in 5-10 years it will be very difficult to come up with the top 10 players. With top prospect such as Sekou Doumbouya (Guinea), Bol Bol (son of Manute Bol – Sudan), and Precious Achiuwa (Nigeria) coming up in the next two drafts.