International players are more prevalent in the modern NBA. That being said, there have been several elite players from other countries throughout NBA history. Many of these players have made a major impact by winning MVPs and championships as the best players on their team.
In this article, we rank the top five international players of all-time. This ranking accounts mainly for skill, success and accomplishments in the NBA, but international competitions are also considered.
5. Nikola Jokic (Serbia)
The Serbian talent didn’t make the NBA 75th anniversary team that was announced last season. However, after winning his second MVP last season, he probably deserves a spot on that list.
Jokic has become one of the best players in the NBA. He has been able to single-handedly carry the Denver Nuggets to wins. If he becomes more successful in the playoffs, Jokic has a chance to rise in this ranking.
4. Steve Nash (Canada)
Steve Nash ranks among the best points guards of all time. He was a two-time NBA MVP who led the Phoenix Suns to surprising success.
Nash was a great shooter and an even better passer. He had a high IQ for the game. Nash saw the game differently from everyone else. There was a flashiness and swagger about Nash that made him a special Hall-of-Fame player.
3. Dirk Nowitzki (Germany)
Dirk Nowitzki was one of the pioneers for one of the trends we see in the modern NBA. Dirk was a seven-footer who could shoot. He is arguably the greatest three-point shooting big man of all-time, with a three-point contest title to back it up. Most of the big men in today’s NBA adopted the shooting standards established by Dirk Nowitzki. As a result, the NBA is more spaced out than it was before. Now, everyone can shoot.
Dirk was more than a shooter. He was a great scorer with an efficient fadeaway jumper. He was the 2007 MVP and is one of the few members of the 30k points club. He also led the Mavericks to one of the most impressive championships earned in NBA history by defeating the Miami Heat in 2011. With no other all-stars on his team, Dirk defeated a Heat team led by LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh.
2. Giannis Antetokounmpo (Greece)
Giannis Antetokounmpo has won nearly every achievable award in the NBA. Nicknamed the “Greek Freak”, Giannis has become one of the most unstoppable forces in the NBA. His speed and strength allow him to be effective on both ends of the floor.
Giannis is going to go down as one of the all-time NBA greats. He will likely win more championships in his career. When his career is finished, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him be considered the greatest international player of all-time.
1. Hakeem Olajuwon (Nigeria)
Hakeem Olajuwon was one of the greatest centers in NBA history. He was skilled in all areas of the game. Offensively, his footwork was unmatched. Defensively, he swatted away numerous shots. He holds the record for most blocks in NBA history.
Hakeem was one of the only stars not named Michael Jordan to win a championship in the 1990s. In 1994 he became one of the few players to win the MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, NBA championship, and Finals MVP in the same season.
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