Every Country’s Best Basketball Player

Basketball long ago became an international game. Now, the rest of the world has caught up to the United States, and there are ballers all across the globe.

Every few years, the top basketball players flock to the Summer Olympics with hoop dreams of bringing home a medal to their home countries. While the gold standard for Olympic teams remains the 1992 U.S. Dream Team, the overall level of competition keeps getting better. 

But who rules the world on the court?.. These are the best men’s basketball players by country.

25. Iran: Hamed Haddadi

Iran: Hamed Haddadi

Note: These rankings had two rules. Each of the 12 countries that made it to the group stage at the 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo had to be represented by at least one player, and no country could have more than three players. 

Born: May 19, 1985 (Ahvaz, Iran)

Position: Center

Height: 7-foot-2

Pro teams: Paykan Tehran (2002-06), Saba Battery Tehran (2007-08), Memphis Grizzlies (2008-13), Melli Haffari Ahvaz (2011), Phoenix Suns (2013), Foolad Mahan Isfahan (2013), Mahram Tehran (2014), Qingdao DoubleStar Eagles (2014-15), Sichuan Blue Whales (2015-16, 2016-17, 2020-present), Petrochimi Bandar Irman (2016, 2017-18), Champville SC (2019), Nanjing Monkey Kings (2019-20)

Bottom line: Iranian center Hamed Haddadi averaged 15.7 points, 9.9 rebounds and 3.3 assists in the 2021 Olympics, and at 36 years old, he was one of the older players in the men’s basketball portion of the games. 

Haddadi played six seasons in the NBA and is widely regarded as the greatest Iranian basketball player of all time. 

24. Japan: Yuta Watanabe

Japan: Yuta Watanabe

Born: Oct. 13, 1994 (Yokohama, Japan)

Position: Small forward

Height: 6-foot-9

Pro teams: Memphis Grizzlies (2018-20), Toronto Raptors (2020-present)

Bottom line: Yuta Watanabe was one of two high-impact forwards who led the Japanese national team into the 2021 Olympics alongside fellow NBA player Rui Hachimura. 

Watanabe, who starred at George Washington, has been in the NBA for a few seasons after going undrafted in 2018. He showed he might be able to stick in the league at the 2021 Olympics, when he averaged 17.7 points and 8.0 rebounds. 

23. Nigeria: Precious Achiuwa

Nigeria: Precious Achiuwa

Born: Sept. 19, 1999 (Port Harcourt, Nigeria)

Position: Power forward

Height: 6-foot-8

Pro teams: Miami Heat (2020-present)

Bottom line: Precious Achiuwa was born in Nigeria but came to the United States when he was in the eighth grade. He became a prep star for Montverde (Florida) Academy before becoming a star at Memphis. 

Achiuwa was selected by the Miami Heat at No. 20 overall in the 2020 NBA draft and averaged a solid 8.0 points and 4.7 rebounds for Nigeria in the 2021 Olympics. 

In an interesting aside, Achiuwa is one of six siblings. His brothers are named God’sgift, God’swill and Promise, and his two sisters are named Grace and Peace. 

22. Germany: Maodo Lo

Germany: Maodo Lo

Born: Dec. 31, 1992 (Berlin, Germany)

Position: Guard

Height: 6-foot-3

Pro teams: Brose Bamberg (2016-18), Bayern Munich (2018-20), Alba Berlin (2020-present)

Bottom line: German-born Maodo Lo was a college basketball star in the United States, where he was a two-time All-Ivy League selection at Columbia. 

He’s known as one of the better basketball players to ever come out of Germany and was great at the 2021 Summer Olympics, where he averaged 13.5 points and 5.0 assists. 

Lo, for all his basketball accolades, still might never be as famous as his mother, internationally acclaimed painter Elvira Bach. 

21. France: Nando de Colo

France: Nando de Colo

Born: June 23, 1987 (Sainte-Catherine-les-Arras, France)

Position: Guard

Height: 6-foot-5

Pro teams: Cholet (2006-09), Valencia (2009-12), San Antonio Spurs (2012-14), Toronto Raptors (2014), CSKA Moscow (2014-19), Fenerbahce (2019-present)

Bottom line: French combo guard Nando de Colo was the EuroLeague’s Most Valuable Player in 2019 and showed at the 2021 Olympics why he’s been one of the better players in Europe in the last few years.

Nando, 6-foot-5, averaged 11.3 points and 6.3 assists in Tokyo while helping lead France to the gold medal game against the United States. This was his third Olympics following appearances in 2012, where he filled in for an injured Tony Parker, and 2016 when he averaged 14.7 points. 

20. Nigeria: Jordan Nwora

Nigeria: Jordan Nwora

Born: Sept. 9, 1998 (Buffalo, New York)

Position: Forward

Height: 6-foot-8

Pro teams: Milwaukee Bucks (2020-present) 

Bottom line: Jordan Nwora was born in Buffalo, New York, but was able to play for the NIgerian national team thanks to his father, Alexander Dwora, who was born in Nigeria. 

Nwora was a star for Louisville before being drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks in 2020, where he became just the third Nigerian player to win an NBA championship in 2021. 

Nwora, who was strictly a reserve for the Bucks, looked like he might be able to bust into the rotation in 2021-22, especially after he lit up Germany for 33 points. 

19. Argentina: Luis Scola

Argentina: Luis Scola

Born: April 30, 1980 (Buenos Aires, Argentina)

Position: Power forward

Height: 6-foot-9

Pro teams: Ferro Carril Oeste (1995-98), Tau Ceramica (1998-2007), Houston Rockets (2007-12), Phoenix Suns (2012-13), Indiana Pacers (2013-15), Toronto Raptors (2015-16), Brooklyn Nets (2016-17), Shanxi Brave Dragons (2017-18), Olimpia Milano (2019-20), Olimpia Milano (2019-20)

Bottom line: Who’s that? Is that 41-year-old Luis Scola still getting buckets for the Argentinian national team in the 2021 Summer Olympics?

Why yes it is. 

Scola was one of the better players in the Olympics — even past the age of 40 — when he averaged 16.5 points and 5.0 rebounds. Lest we forget, Scola played a pretty respectable 11 seasons in the NBA, with his best years coming with the Houston Rockets from 2007 to 2012. 

18. Spain: Rudy Fernandez

Spain: Rudy Fernandez

Born: April 4, 1985 (Palma de Mallorca, Spain)

Position: Small forward

Height: 6-foot-5

Pro teams: Joventut (2002-08), Portland Trail Blazers (2008-11), Real Madrid (2011), Denver Nuggets (2011-12), Real Madrid (2012-present)

Bottom line: NBA fans must have said “Well, hello, old friend” when they saw Rudy Fernandez trotting out for the 2021 Summer Olympics. He played four pretty decent seasons in the NBA in the late 2000s and early 2010s but has been with Real Madrid since 2012. 

Fernandez averaged a more-than-respectable 9.1 points per game over four NBA seasons, and 2021 was the fifth time he represented Spain in the Summer Olympics. 

17. Germany: Moritz Wagner

Germany: Moritz Wagner

Born: April 26, 1997 (Berlin, Germany)

Position: Forward/center

Height: 6-foot-11

Pro teams: Alba Berlin (2014-16), Los Angeles Lakers (2018-19), Washington Wizards (2019-21), Boston Celtics (2021), Orlando Magic (2021)

Bottom line: Moritz Wagner had a more-than-solid 2021 Summer Olympics, averaging 11.0 points. But the really interesting thing to watch is if and when he teams up with younger brother Franz Wagner on the German national team in the future.

Franz, who also starred at Michigan, was the No. 8 overall pick by the Orlando Magic in the 2021 NBA draft. 

16. Italy: Simone Fontecchio

Italy: Simone Fontecchio

Born: Dec. 9, 1995 (Pescara, Abruzzo, Italy)

Position: Forward

Height: 6-foot-8

Pro teams: Virtus Bologna (2012-16), Olimpia Milano (2016-19), Reggio Emilia (2019-20), Alba Berlin (2020-21), Baskonia (2021-present)

Bottom line: Simone Fontecchio might finally get his shot in the NBA after his performance for the Italian national team in the 2021 Olympics, where the 6-foot-8 forward averaged 19.3 points. 

Fontecchio isn’t the first person in his family to represent Italy in international competition. His mother, Malì Pomilio, played basketball for the Italian national team, and his father, Daniele Fontecchio, ran hurdles for Italy at the 1984 Summer Olympics. 

15. Czech Republic: Tomas Satoransky

Czech Republic: Tomas Satoransky

Born: Oct. 30 1991 (Prague, Czechoslovakia)

Position: Point guard

Height: 6-foot-7

Pro teams: USK Praha (2007-09), Sevilla (2009-14), Barcelona (2014-16), Washington Wizards (2016-19), Chicago Bulls (2019-21), New Orleans Pelicans (2021-present)

Bottom line: People talked a lot of smack about Tomas Satoransky when he was shipped to the New Orleans Pelicans as part of the deal that sent Lonzo Ball to the Chicago Bulls in August 2021. But Satoransky’s play in the 2021 Summer Olympics told a much different story. 

The Czech Republic point guard averaged 10.7 points, 5.7 rebounds and a whopping 8.7 assists at the Olympics. At 6-foot-7, he also proved to be a tough matchup against some of the best players in the world at his position. 

14. Australia: Joe Ingles

Australia: Joe Ingles

Born: Oct. 2, 1997 (Adelaide, Australia)

Position: Small forward

Height: 6-foot-8

Pro teams: South Dragons (2006-09), CB Granada (2009-10), FC Barcelona (2010-13), Maccabi Tel Aviv (2013-14), Utah Jazz (2014-present)

Bottom line: Joe Ingles has been making his name as a gritty small forward in the NBA since 2014. He made his fourth appearance for Australia in the Summer Olympics in 2021 following appearances in 2008, 2012 and 2016. 

Ingles’ stat line at the Tokyo Game was 10.5 points, 4.3 assists and 4.5 assists, which almost matched perfectly up with his stats from the 2020-21 NBA season. 

13. United States: Zach Lavine

United States: Zach Lavine

Born: March 10, 1995 (Renton, Washington)

Position: Shooting guard

Height: 6-foot-5

Pro teams: Minnesota Timberwolves (2014-17), Chicago Bulls (2017-present)

Bottom line: We’re not sure how a player as good as Zach Lavine continues to fail over and over again in the NBA, but here we are. Once again, Lavine is turning heads with his play and was stellar for Team USA in the 2021 Summer Olympics. 

Lavine just completed his seventh NBA season and made his first All-Star team in 2021 when he averaged a career-high 27.4 points. 

That being said, he’s never even played in the postseason. In seven seasons. 

12. Italy: Danilo Gallinari

Italy: Danilo Gallinari

Born: Aug. 8, 1988 (Sant’Angelo Lodigiano, Italy)

Position: Power forward

Height: 6-foot-10

Pro teams: Casalpusterlengo (2004-05), Nuovo Pavia (2005-06), Olimpia Milano (2006-08), New York Knicks (2008-11), Denver Nuggets (2011-17), Los Angeles Clippers (2017-19), Oklahoma City Thunder (2019-20), Atlanta Hawks (2020-present)

Bottom line: Danilo Gallinari is a name that’s very familiar to NBA fans. He was the No. 6 overall pick in the 2008 NBA draft and has played for five teams over the last 13 years. 

Gallinari also has been a big-time player for Italy on the international stage, where he first wore the Italian jersey in the 2004 FIBA U16 European Championships. 

11. Argentina: Facundo Campazzo

11. Argentina: Facundo Campazzo

Born: March 23, 1991 (Cordoba, Argentina)

Position: Point guard

Height: 5-foot-10

Pro teams: Penarol (2008-14), Real Madrid (2014-20), Denver Nuggets (2020-present)

Bottom line: NBA fans got a treat in the 2020-21 season when Italian point guard Facundo Campazzo stepped up to the plate for the Denver Nuggets, making his NBA debut at 29 years old. 

Campazzo, who’s only 5-foot-10, followed that up with a bravura performance in the 2021 Summer Olympics, averaging 14.3 points, 5.3 rebounds and 5.8 assists for the Italian national team. 

That performance made his NBA success all the better.

10. Japan: Rui Hachimura

Japan: Rui Hachimura

Born: Feb. 8, 1998 (Toyama, Japan)

Position: Power forward

Height: 6-foot-8

Pro teams: Washington Wizards (2019-present)

Bottom line: Gonzaga forward Rui Hachimura became the first Japanese-born player selected in the first round of the NBA draft when he was taken by the Washington Wizards at No. 9 overall. Hachimura was a star for Meisei High in Japan and made a name for himself at the Jordan Brand Classic in 2015. 

After two seesaw seasons with the Wizards, Hachimura showed at the 2021 Olympics he might have what it takes to be a key contributor in the NBA as he led Japan with 22.3 points and 6.7 rebounds. 

9. Slovenia: Zoran Dragic

Slovenia: Zoran Dragic

Born: June 22, 1989 (Ljubljana, Slovenia, Yugoslavia)

Position: Small forward

Height: 6-foot-5

Pro teams: KD Ilirijia (2004-05), Jance (2005-06), Slovan (2006-10), Krka (2010-12), Malaga (2012-14), Phoenix Suns (2014-15), Miami Heat (2015), Khimki (2015-16), Olimpia MIlano (2016-17), Anadolu Efes (2017-18), Trieste (2019), Ulm (2019-20), Baskonia (2020-present)

Bottom line: Zoran Dragic, the younger brother of Miami Heat star Goran Dragic, has made his own name in the 2021 Summer Olympics, helping lead the Slovenian national team alongside Dallas Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic. 

Zoran Dragic, who has averaged 16.0 points in the Olympics, has represented Slovenia on the international stage since the 2007 FIBA Europe U18 Championships. He played briefly in the NBA in the mid-2010s but has been playing professionally on the international stage since 2015. 

8. Australia: Matisse Thybulle

Australia: Matisse Thybulle

Born: March 4, 1997 (Scottsdale, Arizona)

Position: Forward

Height: 6-foot-5

Pro teams: Philadelphia 76ers (2019-present)

Bottom line: NBA fans know Australian national team forward Matisse Thybulle from the last two seasons because of his defensive ability, which has been prominently on display in the 2021 Summer Olympics. 

Thybulle averaged an Olympic-high 3.3 steals throughout the 2021 Games to go with 7.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists, but it’s his defensive ability that truly sets him apart. 

Thybulle, who was born in Arizona, has dual citizenship between the United States and Australia, where his family moved when he was 2 years old. 

7. France: Rudy Gobert

France: Rudy Gobert

Born: June 26, 1992 (Saint-Quentin, France)

Position: Center

Height: 7-foot-1

Pro teams: Cholet (2011-13), Utah Jazz (2013-present)

Bottom line: Rudy Gobert’s career has been mostly defined by his defensive abilities. He’s already a three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year with his most recent award coming in 2021. 

Gobert has been just as dominant on the international stage. He’s played for France since the 2011 FIBA Europe Under-20 World Championships and also played in the Olympics for France in 2016. 

At the 2021 Olympics, Gobert averaged 12.0 points and 8.0 rebounds and was matched up with the best big men in the world once again. 

6. United States: Jayson Tatum

United States: Jayson Tatum

Born: March 3, 1998 (St. Louis, Missouri)

Position: Forward

Height: 6-foot-8

Pro teams: Boston Celtics (2017-present)

Bottom line: Jayson Tatum is one of the great young players in the NBA, and the Boston Celtics forward and St. Louis, Missouri, native continued his ascent at the 2021 Olympics, where he averaged 16.0 points and was the No. 2 scoring option on Team USA behind Kevin Durant. 

That’s ironic, because Durant is the type of player Tatum could be one day — although it’s hard to say when or if that’s ever going to happen. 

5. Spain: Ricky Rubio

Spain: Ricky Rubio

Born: Oct. 21, 1990 (El Masnou, Spain)

Position: Point guard

Height: 6-foot-3

Pro teams: Joventut Badalona (2005-09), FC Barcelona (2009-11), Minnesota Timberwolves (2011-17, 2020-21), Utah Jazz (2017-19), Phoenix Suns (2019-20), Cleveland Cavaliers (2021-present)

Bottom Line: Ricky Rubio

Ricky Rubio

NBA fans know the saga of Ricky Rubio, who was perhaps the most coveted European prospect of all time. Yes, even more than Luka Doncic. 

While Rubio’s NBA career has mostly fallen short of expectations, you can’t say the same thing about his play on the international stage for Spain, where he averaged 25.5 points and 6.0 assists in the 2021 Olympics. 

Rubio already has won two Olympic medals. He was only 17 years old when he played for Spain against the U.S. in the 2008 Olympic finals and won a bronze medal in 2016. 

4. Australia: Patty MIlls

Australia: Patty MIlls

Born: Aug. 11, 1988 (Canberra, Australia)

Position: Guard

Height: 6-foot

Pro teams: Portland Trail Blazers (2009-11), Melbourne Tigers (2011), Xinjiang Flying Tigers (2011-12), San Antonio Spurs (2012-21), Brooklyn Nets (2021-present)

Bottom Line: Patty Mills

Patty Mills

Patty Mills needs no introduction on the international stage. He’s spent over a decade in the NBA and represented his native Australia in competitions since 2007. In that time, Mills has proven himself to be an elite leader and team player who is valued for much more than his statistics. 

Mills will be part of a championship contender in 2021-22 with the Brooklyn Nets. He already helped lead the San Antonio Spurs to an NBA title in 2014 and played for the team from 2012 to 2021. 

3. France: Evan Fournier

France: Evan Fournier

Born: Oct. 29, 1992 (Saint-Maurice, France)

Position: Shooting guard

Height: 6-foot-7

Pro teams: JSF Nanterre (2009-10), Poitiers Basket 86 (2010-12), Denver Nuggets (2012-14), Orlando Magic (2014-21), Boston Celtics (2021), New York Knicks (2021-present)

Bottom Line: Evan Fournier

Evan Fournier

If you want to point to a player who improved his NBA free agency stock with their play in the Olympics, it’s France’s Evan Fournier. 

Fournier averaged 18.3 points and showed how he can absolutely fill it up in leading France to the championship game in Tokyo and cashed in big time, with a four-year, $78 million contract with the up-and-coming New York Knicks. 

2. United States: Kevin Durant

United States: Kevin Durant

Born: Sept. 28, 1988 (Washington, D.C.)

Position: Forward

Height: 6-foot-10

Pro teams: Seattle SuperSonics/Oklahoma City Thunder (2007-16), Golden State Warriors (2016-19), Brooklyn Nets (2019-present)

Bottom Line: Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant is no stranger to the Summer Olympics. The two-time NBA Finals MVP won two gold medals with Team USA in 2012 and 2016. 

Durant, who also won a gold medal at the FIBA World Cup in 2010, is playing at his typical level in the 2021 Olympics — better than almost everyone in the world.

He averaged a team-high 18.0 points to go with 4.3 rebounds and 4.3 assists. 

1. Slovenia: Luka Doncic

Slovenia: Luka Doncic

Born: Feb. 28, 1999 (Ljubljana, Slovenia)

Position: Small forward

Height: 6-foot-7

Pro teams: Real Madrid (2015-18), Dallas Mavericks (2018-present)

Bottom line: Luka Doncic

Luka Doncic

Luka Doncic has established himself as one of the best players in the NBA just three years into his career. He’s already a two-time All-NBA selection for the Dallas Mavericks. 

Now, Doncic is trying to establish his home country as one of the best at basketball in the world. Slovenia, a country of just 2 million people, played in the Olympics for the first time in 2021 thanks to Doncic, who averaged almost a triple-double at 26.3 points, 10.0 rebounds and 8.0 assists. He also averaged 1.3 blocks. 

Doncic is still only 22. So he will get a few more chances to bring home the gold and add to his growing legend.

The latest Guinness World Record is…

Joshua Walker

Joshua Walker, a basketball coach from Louisiana, USA  has achieved not one, but FIVE new records, including an epic throw that has broken the record for the longest basketball shot (male).

Joshua set his first Guinness World Records title earlier this year, on 22 January 2022. He achieved the farthest basketball shot made while sitting on the court with a distance of 19.58 metres (64 ft 3 in). He took this record from Harlem Globetrotters‘ Corey “Thunder” Law, who managed a distance of 17.91 m (58 ft 9.1 in). 

Far from being satisfied with his one world record, Joshua embarked on a mission to break five more basketball records, showing off the skills he has been honing since he was five years old. 

During just one day in July 2022, Joshua successfully achieved all five records. 


(Source: StadiumTalk)

Short overview of 5 things on September 5
World's fastest drummer: 11-year-old from Australia breaks record

Sign up with your email address to receive news and updates.


Leave a Reply