5 best African NBA players right now

By Business Insider Africa

Africa has always had a good relationship with the NBA. We’ve seen some great players like Hakeem Olajuwon and Dikembe Mutombo that had a huge impact on the game. Nowadays, there are plenty of African players that are playing in the NBA, and in today’s article, we will highlight some of the best.

Joel Embiid

When we talk about the best African players, Joel Embiid is one of the first that comes into our mind. Embiid is born in Yaounde, Cameroon, and moved to the United States at age of 16 just to pursue his dream of playing in the National Basketball Association.

After a couple of years in the US, and working hard on perfecting his basketball skills, he achieved his dream. He was drafted as the 3rd overall pick by the Philadelphia 76ers just one year into college, but his professional career beginnings are not that successful. Embiid won’t get a chance to play for the 76ers until 2016 due to a long-term injury.

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However, after healing his injury he will return to the big stage and storm the NBA league. After his incredible debut season, the 76ers will give him a 5-year contract worth $145 million with a $30 million bonus if he makes the all-NBA first team.

Pascal Siakam

Here we have another Cameroonian-born NBA player that is making some big movies in the league. Pascal Siakam was born in Cameroon and moved to the United States to pursue his dream of playing in the NBA.

After finishing college, he was drafted by the Raptors as the 27th overall in 2016. He was assigned to Toronto’s G-league team, where he proved his skills by winning the championship and finals MVP.

His incredible performance led to a chance for joining the Raptors NBA squad, where he earned the nickname ‘Spicy P’ for his incredible skills and style of play. With such an incredible performance, he earned a contract extension worth $130 million, and he has been in the NBA spotlight ever since.

Serge Ibaka

Serge Ibaka has a different career path than most African basketball athletes, but he managed to reach the ultimate goal of playing in the NBA. Ibaka is born in Congo and moved to France at 17-years-old to play basketball professionally. After that, he moved to Spain where the doors at the NBA started to open.

He was drafted 24th overall by the Seattle SuperSonics, and would eventually become Oklahoma City thunder.

Since then, he was traded to Orlando Magic, and then Toronto Raptors. His incredible skills were showcased after moving to the Los Angeles Clippers in 2020, but that’s not the end of his transfers.

This year, the Clippers and the Milwaukee Bucks traded four players, including Ibaka, and he will continue his professional career playing for the Bucks. So, it’s unlikely that he features on 2022 NBA trade rumors.

Emmanuel Mudiay

Emmanuel Mudiay is another successful African player in the NBA. He is born in Congo and moved to the United States at a young age. After finishing high school, he declined several college scholarships just to play professional basketball in China.

He signed a $1.2 million contract with Guandong Southern Tigers at only 18 years old, but his time in China was disrupted by injuries, and only played in 12 games.

After his return to the States, he was drafted 7th by Denver Nuggets in the 2015 NBA Draft, and since then he changed multiple teams playing for the New York Knicks, Utah Jazz, and Sacramento Kings. Mudiay is currently a free agent, after a brief passage in Zalgiris Kaunas, in Lithuania.

Bismack Biyombonull

Biyombo is another NBA athlete born in Congo, and just like Ibaka, he started his professional basketball career playing in Spain. After two years, he was drafted 7th overall by the Sacramento Kings, and then traded to the Charlotte Bobcats.

Despite failing to live up to his potential and averaging only 5 points per game, he demanded an NBA appearance, and eventually signed a deal with the Toronto Raptors in 2015. His career path started to move up, as he traded to other teams like Orlando Magic and he is now playing for the Phoenix Suns.

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