15 Of The Best Foreign-Born Players In NBA History

By Chipper Murphy

15 Of The Best Foreign-Born Players In NBA History

Hakeem Olajuwon Houston Rockets
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With every new season the NBA draft gives us more foreign talent to speculate about and gush over. The most interesting prospects are the ones we know the least about, and foreign players have gone from expected busts to potential stars. These are the 15 greatest foreign-born players in the history of the league.

15. Al Horford

Al Horford Atlanta Hawks
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

15. Al Horford

Al Horford Atlanta Hawks
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Al Horford is one of the league's most consistent players, with the ability to score from multiple areas on the court. He has gone from a reliable asset to an All-Star talent. Last year, he led the Atlanta Hawks to the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. At just 29-years-old and in a contract year, Horford has plenty of time left to make his mark on this league.

14. Peja Stojakovic

Peja Stojakovic Sacramento Kings
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14. Peja Stojakovic

Peja Stojakovic Sacramento Kings
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Peja Stojakovic was a part of the great Sacramento Kings teams that feuded with the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2000s, producing some of the best games the NBA has ever seen. In 2003-04 he led the league in three-point shots made (240) and is 11th all-time (1760). He was one of the best shooters the league ever saw, averaging 40 percent from three point range and 89 percent from the free throw line for his career.

13. Marc Gasol

Marc Gasol Memphis Grizzlies
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

13. Marc Gasol

Marc Gasol Memphis Grizzlies
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

In five years Marc Gasol could be in the top three on this list, considering he is already the best center in a league where the position is declining and one of the best passing big men of all time. Gasol has gone from being Pau's little brother, to one of the most effective defensive players in the league and passing his brother in the process.

12. Detlef Schrempf

Detlef Schrempf Indiana Pacers
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12. Detlef Schrempf

Detlef Schrempf Indiana Pacers
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Detlef Schrempf's most recent success has been his guest spot on Community. Before that, though, he won the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year Award twice and was a three time All-Star. He was an important contributor on two playoff teams, the Reggie Miller Pacers and the Shawn Kemp/Gary Payton Sonics.

11. Yao Ming

Yao Ming Houston Rockets
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11. Yao Ming

Yao Ming Houston Rockets
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Yao Ming took the league by storm when he became the No. 1 overall pick in the 2002 draft. Standing at 7'6", his midrange game and skill on the block made him a difficult match-up for other centers in the league. If it wasn't for his terrible injury issues, Yao could have been one of the greatest centers in NBA history.

10. Dikembe Mutombo

Dikembe Mutombo
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10. Dikembe Mutombo

Dikembe Mutombo
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It's a shame that Dikembe Mutombo isn't playing right now — at a time when Omer Asik was just paid million for his ability to protect the rim — because Mutombo would have been seriously paid. He was a four-time Defensive Player of the Year, six-time All-NBA Defense and second all time in blocks. Few players have been able to dominate like Mutombo at such a high level for such a long career.

9. Manu Ginobili

Manu Ginobili San Antonio Spurs
John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

9. Manu Ginobili

Manu Ginobili San Antonio Spurs
John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

It's hard to explain the greatness of Manu Ginobili while looking at his stats and seeing that he has only been an All-Star twice and inexplicably won the Sixth Man of the Year Award just once. His legacy will be his contribution to the four Spurs championships, being part of the big three and one of professional sports most impressive dynasties.

8. Tony Parker

Tony Parker San Antonio Spurs
Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

8. Tony Parker

Tony Parker San Antonio Spurs
Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Tony Parker is one of the best pick-and-roll players in NBA history and had a shining moment during the 2007 finals when he won MVP. The six-time All-Star was the youngest member of the Spurs dynasty and is now graciously passing along the mantle, with Duncan and Ginobili, to Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge.

7. Paul Gasol

Paul Gasol Chicago Bulls
Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

7. Paul Gasol

Paul Gasol Chicago Bulls
Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

Pau Gasol is one of the most underrated players of his generation, making everything he does look so easy. He had one of the best seasons of his career in 2014-15, at age 34. He continues to dominate now, averaging a double-double each game. Gasol comfortably took the role of second fiddle to Kobe Bryant with the Lakers and won two championships, which is not an easy task.

6. Dominique Wilkins

Dominique Wilkins Atlanta Hawks
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6. Dominique Wilkins

Dominique Wilkins Atlanta Hawks
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Dominique Wilkins is one of the greatest scorers in NBA history — 12th all-time in career points — and arguably its most explosive athlete. Despite his lack of playoff success, Wilkins was always the go-to-guy for the Atlanta Hawks.

5. Patrick Ewing

Patrick Ewing New York Knicks
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5. Patrick Ewing

Patrick Ewing New York Knicks
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Some say Patrick Ewing was overrated, just a stat sheet stuffer and a selfish player. I see a guy who was an 11-time All-Star that was one of the league's most dominant offensive centers ever.

4. Steve Nash

Steve Nash Phoenix Suns
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

4. Steve Nash

Steve Nash Phoenix Suns
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Steve Nash is the greatest pure shooter of all-time, having been in the 50-40-90 club four times. If not for his down years with the Lakers, he would have finished with those numbers for his career. Nash is one of the best players ever with the ball in his hands and along with Phoenix Suns head coach Mike D'Antoni changed the way the game was played in his prime.

3. Dirk Nowitzki

Dirk Nowitzki Dallas Mavericks
Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

3. Dirk Nowitzki

Dirk Nowitzki Dallas Mavericks
Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Dirk changed the belief that European players are soft and shouldn't be valued. He put his mark on the NBA with a combination of incredible long-range shooting and legendary post moves. He will go down as one of the best power forwards of all-time and the best player in Dallas Mavericks franchise history.

2. Tim Duncan

Tim Duncan San Antonio Spurs
Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

2. Tim Duncan

Tim Duncan San Antonio Spurs
Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Tim Duncan is the greatest power forward of all-time, but because his game is so boring he doesn't get the attention of a Dirk Nowitzki. "The Big Fundamental" won five championships with the Spurs, is a 15-time All-Star, two-time MVP, and four-time All-Defense.

1. Hakeem Olajuwon

Hakeem Olajuwon Houston Rockets
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1. Hakeem Olajuwon

Hakeem Olajuwon Houston Rockets
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Hakeem Olajuwon was the first great international player the league had seen and his athleticism was unparalleled for a 7-footer. He is the all-time career leader in blocks, eighth in steals, and two-time defensive player of the year. "The Dream" was incredibly creative on both ends of the court, and had a great feel for the game.

Chipper Murphy is a Beat Writer for the New York Knicks on RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ChipperMurphy or Google. “Like” him on Facebook.

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