The NBA is always loaded with incredible talent. Players come from all over the world, and the best part about the NBA’s diversity is that some of the best talent the league comes from many different countries. Dime thought it would be appropriate to rank some of the best talent born outside of the States in NBA history.
The concept of being a foreign-born player goes through a fair share of confusion. For the sake of this article, a foreign player is someone who was not born in the United States of America. It does not matter how quickly the player moved to the States — if they were born somewhere else, they are considered a foreign-born player… at least for this particular piece.
Here is a list of the 30 best the NBA has seen.
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30. BEN GORDON – England
Born across the sea before spending his childhood in Mount Vernon, New York, Ben Gordon showed promise when the Bulls drafted him with the third pick in the 2004 NBA Draft. He was able to provide volume scoring for Chicago off the bench, and at the end of the year, his impact did not go unnoticed. He was awarded the NBA Sixth Man of the Year award, the only rookie to ever achieve such an honor. Gordon has been a model of consistency throughout the middle stages of his career, but injuries have started to catch up with him. He is still a solid piece to have coming off the bench, but it looks as if Gordon’s best years are behind him.
29. HEDO TURKOGLU â€“ Turkey
Turkoglu is one of the more versatile foreign-born players in the league. He stands at 6-10, but he is used in a point forward role. In 2000, the Sacramento Kings selected Hedo with the 16th pick. His selection made him the first Turkish-born player to step foot on an NBA court. After his rookie season, Hedo found some success off the bench and was awarded the Most Improved Player award in 2008. Turkoglu is now playing for the Orlando Magic in a more veteran role.
28. LUOL DENG – Sudan
Deng has been a consistent scorer for the Bulls ever since being drafted out of Duke in 2004. A two-time All-Star, the small forward has career averages of 16 points and 6.4 rebounds per game, and has the distinction of being the guy who ultimately shut down a potential Lakers/Bulls trade in 2007 revolving around Kobe Bryant. Bryant wouldn’t agree to any deal that included Deng going back to L.A.
27. MARC GASOL â€“ Spain
Marc Gasol has answered the call, in terms of living up to his brother, Pau Gasol. Marc has grown into one of the best defensive centers in the league. He alters or blocks almost any shot that comes his way. The Grizzlies center is such a special talent; he is a premiere defender, and a threat on the offensive end. He can extend his game to the midrange and be effective. Marc Gasol is only going to improve on an already lethal skill-set, considering he’s entering only his sixth season in the NBA. Expect to hear his name in the Defensive Player of the Year conversation many times throughout his career.
26. ANDREI KIRILENKO – Russia
Andrei Kirilenko was the first Russian player taken in the first round in NBA history. The Utah Jazz selected a great defender that had offensive upside. He stayed in Russia for two years after he was drafted. The 2003-2004 regular season was Kirilenko’s best. He posted a career-high in points and rebounds. Kirilenko is still a serviceable player in the NBA as the Brooklyn Nets recently signed him to a two-year contract. Look for him to provide some sound defense off the bench this coming season.