The NBA has seen a lot of talented foreign players come from abroad to impress the league with their courage, heart and willingness to die to make the team better and help their winning causes, sometimes even showing more determination that American born and raised players.
If it’s difficult to make it in the NBA being an American, just imagine coming from overseas, especially if you play for a community that hasn’t quite embraced the fact that globalization is a huge part of sports and that foreigners are here to stay for a very long time.
And a community that has had even a rougher time to settle down in the Association is the Latino community, although some initiatives like Noches Ene Be A have made quite a big impact for one of the biggest fanbases of the NBA. Today, we’ll honor those guys, ranking the top 10 greatest Latin NBA players in history.
Honorable Mention: Tiago Splitter, Carl Herrera
10. Carlos Delfino
“Cabeza” Delfino spent 8 very successful years in the NBA as a member of the Pistons, Raptors and Bucks, although a season-ending injury forced him to eventually leave the league to try his luck elsewhere.
Now, playing in Argentina, Delfino left some pretty decent career averages of 8.1 points, 3.6 boards and 1.7 assists per game in just over 22.8 minutes per game, also winning several Olympic medals with Argentina’s national team as a member of the golden generation.
9. Francisco Garcia
Spending 9 full seasons in the NBA, Garcia made a name for himself due to his above-average wing defense and his sharpshooting ability, constantly being a reliable option off the bench with his great hustle.
“El Flaco” had his best years as a member of the Sacramento Kings, leaving career averages of over 7 points, 2.6 boards and 1.4 dimes per contest in just 21 minutes per game, shooting over 37% from downtown even despite the lack of volume.
8. Andres Nocioni
Regardless of if it was a pickup game at the local YMCA or an Olympic final, Nocioni left everything on the court for every single board against every other guy even if they were way bigger than him, earning a spot on this list due to his hustle and determination.
Chapu, “The Wild Bull of the Pampas” was a very productive player given the playing time, leaving career averages of 10.5 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.2 assists at both forward spots, and he was also a member of that golden Argentina generation.
7. J.J. Barea
As a 10-year veteran, J.J. Barea has made a name for himself as one of the most reliable backup point guards in the NBA, stepping up whenever he’s been needed to due to his instant offense and his sharpshooting.
Despite being way undersized, Barea has been quite productive over his career, even being a member of that Dallas Mavericks championship team. So far, he’s averaged 8.6 points and 3.6 dimes per game on 35.8% shooting from beyond the arc.
6. Anderson Varejao
Varejao stood there with the Cavs when they were flat out trash, but he was so unlucky that they actually won the ring the very same year he suited up for their rivals in the finals, the Golden State Warriors.
Still, the flopper will go down as one of the best players in Cleveland history, leaving career averages of 7.3 points, 7.9 boards and 1.2 assists per game in more than 51% from the floor despite playing just over 24 minutes per game.
5. Leandro Barbosa
Barbosa was completely unstoppable during his prime as the fastest player in the entire Association, even winning the 2006-07 6th Man of the Year as a member of the Phoenix Suns playing over 32 minutes per game.
Now, back again in Phoenix, the 2015 NBA champion is more than ready to call it a career, after averaging 10.6 points, 2.1 rebounds and 2.4 helpers per game at both guard spots, better known as the Brazilian Blur.
4. Nene Hilario
Everybody expected way more out of Nene when he first came into the league due to his amazing physique and dominant presence in the paint, and even if he never achieved the greatness everybody hoped for, he has had a very productive 15-year NBA career.
Now, as a member of the Houston Rockets, the trash-talking injury prone forward/center is heading towards the back stretch of his career, leaving career averages of 12.3 points and 6.3 boards on over 53% from the floor.
3. Luis Scola
Yet another key member of the golden generation makes our list, as the 9-year veteran out of Argentina and member of the 2007-08 All-Rookie team has made a name for himself as a hustle player with a lot of heart and as an outstanding teammate.
On top of that, he’s been able to step up when needed, although he hasn’t been on the floor for much time over the last few seasons. Still, the former Houston Rocket standout has averaged 12 points and 6.7 boards per game, earning the respect of every single guy that has crossed paths with him.
2. Al Horford
At number 2, we have another 9-year veteran big man, a 4-time All-Star and another member of the 07-08 All-Rookie squad, the former Atlanta Hawk and current starting center for the Boston Celtics, Al Horford.
Horford has actually flourished into one of the most productive two-way centers in the league, even expanding his range all the way to three-point territory, and averaging 14.3 points, 8.7 rebounds, 3 assists and 1.2 blocks per game on 52.8% from the floor and over 34% from beyond the arc.
1. Manu Ginobili
And of course, the ultimate Latino spot has to go to the greatest player in Argentina basketball history, Emanuel “Manu” David Ginobili, a 4-time NBA champion, 2-time All-Star and 2007-08 Sixth Man of the Year out of Bahia Blanca.
Manu has been an outstanding teammate, a clutch guy on both ends of the floor and Gregg Popovich’s extension on the court, averaging 13.6 points, 3.6 boards, 3.9 assists and 1.4 steals per game in just over 25 minutes a game as one of the most versatile shooting guards in NBA history.The NBA has seen a lot of talented foreign players come from abroad to impress the league with their courage, heart and willingness to die to make the team better and help their winning causes, sometimes even showing more determination that American born and raised players.