African NBA Basketball Players - Joel Embiid

The best african basketball players in the NBA

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With the creation and development of the BAL (Basketball Africa League), the NBA is investing a lot of money in Africa. More and more elite basketball players are African or have African origins. This is evidenced by the MVP title awarded in 2023 to Joel Embiid, the Cameroonian center for the Sixers. But this All-Star player is not the only one making a mark in the Big League. There are other African athletes who have had or are having impressive careers in the NBA. Here is a selection.

Dikembe Mutombo

Dikembe Mutombo is one of the most iconic African basketball players in NBA history. Born in 1966 in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mutombo is renowned for being one of the best defenders in the league. In addition to his height (7’2″), his wingspan and timing made him one of the greatest shot-blockers of all time. His finger-wagging celebration after a block has become legendary. Mutombo was an eight-time All-Star and was named Defensive Player of the Year four times.

Hakeem Olajuwon

Originally from Nigeria, Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon is unquestionably one of the greatest African basketball players to have played in the NBA. Despite a late start in basketball, his progress was rapid. Drafted first overall in the 1984 NBA draft, he made an immediate impact with the Houston Rockets. His agility, power, and technique made him a dominant center. The “Dream Shake” became his signature move. Hakeem led the Rockets to two consecutive NBA championships in 1994 and 1995. Throughout his career, he was praised for his on-court prowess as well as his leadership and humility off the court. In 2008, Hakeem Olajuwon was inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Joel Embiid

Hailing from Cameroon, Joel Embiid has established himself as a dominant player in the NBA. He joined the league in 2014, being selected third overall by the Philadelphia 76ers. Despite a career start marred by injuries, this massive center has shown remarkable resilience and determination to become one of the best big men of his generation. With exceptional footwork, good court vision, and a reliable mid-range shot, Embiid defies traditional center stereotypes. His exuberant personality and sense of humor are much appreciated by fans. An ambassador for African basketball in the NBA, Joel Embiid is a role model for young talents from the continent aspiring to follow in his footsteps.

Pascal Siakam

Siakam is one of the best African basketball players in the NBA. His humble beginnings in Douala, where he started playing basketball relatively late, contrast with his rapid rise in the North American league. Drafted 27th overall in the 2016 NBA draft by the Toronto Raptors, this Cameroonian power forward exceeded all expectations. In a few years, he transitioned from a rotation player to All-Star status. He was also a key piece in the Raptors’ NBA championship win in 2019. His size, speed, agility, and wingspan allow him to defend multiple player profiles. Offensively, his physical and technical skills make him a tough interior player to stop. Pascal Siakam’s journey and work ethic are an inspiration for many young Africans aspiring to a basketball career.

Josh Okogie

Nigerian Josh Okogie is one of the most promising African talents in the NBA. Since his debut in 2018, Okogie has demonstrated unwavering defensive commitment and contagious energy on the court. His athletic qualities allow him to compete with the league’s best players. Besides his on-court contributions, Josh proudly represents the African continent and never misses an opportunity to highlight his roots. His participation in international competitions with the Nigerian team reflects his love for his homeland.

Jonathan Kuminga

A young player with great potential, Congolese Jonathan Kuminga represents the future of African basketball in the NBA. Born in 2002, Kuminga made his professional debut in the United States with the NBA G League team Ignite before making the big leap to the NBA the following year. Kuminga has a certain versatility on the court; he can attack the basket, shoot accurately from the outside, and defend multiple positions. This forward is among the most promising prospects of his generation. His NBA career is just beginning, and it looks bright.

Bismack Biyombo

Originally from the DRC, Bismack Biyombo has made his mark in the NBA thanks to his physical attributes and defense, despite limited offensive capabilities. His determination and contagious energy have made him a reliable player for coaches, explaining the longevity of his NBA career. Biyombo has surpassed the symbolic mark of ten seasons in the Big League. Beyond his athletic performances, the seventh pick of the 2011 draft is also known for his philanthropic initiatives in Africa, working for the education and well-being of young people. His journey perfectly illustrates how African talents can shine at the highest level.

Serge Ibaka

Congolese Serge Ibaka is one of the iconic figures of African basketball in the NBA. Born in Brazzaville in 1989, he overcame a childhood marked by war and tragedy. Ibaka is best known for his defensive abilities, particularly as a shot-blocker. Throughout his career, he has been listed among the best defenders of the season multiple times. This center, who can also play power forward, has been dominant for nearly a decade. He notably played in OKC alongside Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook and was a key player in the Toronto Raptors’ 2019 NBA championship, giving the franchise its first NBA title.

About the author
Picture of Alan Le Bolloch

Alan Le Bolloch

Alan is the founder and photographer of 3PTSHOT! For over 10 years, he has been sharing his passion for basketball on this blog. He regularly travels to the USA to cover NBA games. Alan is also the author of the book "Create a successful website: make a living from your passion and realize your dreams".