Top 10 Best Latino NBA Players of All Time
Ranking the greatest Latino NBA Basketball Players All-Time in Celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month
The international play of basketball continues to develop from year to year with stars coming to the United States each season to take to the NBA court. This increase of talent has included over the past few seasons where stars such as Giannis Antetokounmpo, Luka Doncic and Nikola Jokic have arrived. With that said, the NBA has seen some talented Latino players make their presence on the hardwood over the years.
While the debate can be made on who is the best Latino NBA player of All-Time, the list includes the likes of Carmelo Anthony, Manu Ginóbili, Al Horford and Brooks Lopez at the top of the ranks. Here is our list of the Top 10 Latino NBA players of All-Time in Celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month.
Best Latino Players All-Time
Team(s): Dallas Mavericks, Golden State Warriors, Denver Nuggets, New Jersey Nets, Charlotte Bobcats
Career Stats: 4.9 Pts, 3.7 Rebs, .8 Asts
In the 2000 NBA Draft, the Houston Rockets selected Eduardo Najera with the 38th overall pick making him the first Mexican player to be drafted and only the second player in the history of the NBA born in Mexico. Over the course of his career, Najera appeared in 619 games averaging 4.9 points a game while also appearing in 59 playoff games averaging 3.8 points per game.
Team(s): Cleveland Cavaliers, Golden State Warriors
Career Stats: 2.6 Pts, 4 Rebs, .6 Asts
After being selected by the Orlando Magic with the 30th overall pick in the second round, Anderson Varejão would eventually be traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers before the start of the 2004-2005 NBA Season. As a rookie Varejão would go on to average 4.9 points per game along with 4.8 rebounds.
Over the course of the next 12 seasons, Varejão would play with the Cavaliers putting together his best season during the 2012-13 NBA Season where he averaged 14.1 points a game to go with 14.4 rebounds. In 632 career games, Varejão would average 7.2 points a game and 7.2 rebounds a game. In addition, Varejão would appear in 88 playoff games including making 14 starts for the Cavaliers during the 2009 NBA Playoffs.
- All Defensive 2nd Team (2010)
Team(s): Houston Rockets, Phoenix Suns, Indiana Pacers, Toronto Raptors, Brooklyn Nets
Career Stats: 12 Pts, 6.7 Rebs, 1.6 Asts
At number eight on the list of the Top 10 Latino NBA Players of All-Time is Luis Scola who appeared in 743 career NBA games over the course of his 10 NBA Seasons. A former second round draft pick, Scola was selected by the Houston Rockets during the 2007 NBA Draft. After being drafted, Scola appeared in all 82 games as a rookie while making 39 starts during the season averaging 10.3 points to go with 6.4 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game. Scola would go on to average at least 12.7 points per game over the next five seasons. For his career, the Argentine native, would average 12 points a game.
- All-Rookie First Team (2008)
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Team(s): Phoenix Suns, Toronto Raptors, Indiana Pacers, Boston Celtics, Golden State Warriors
Career Stats: 10.6 Pts, 2 Rebs, 2.1 Asts, .8 Stls
The journeyman basketball player, Leandro Barbosa used this talent to bounce around the NBA over the course of 15 NBA seasons. Over that stretch, Barbosa averaged 10.6 points a game to go along with two rebounds and 2.1 assists per game. During his career, Barbosa put together his best season in 2006-2007 finishing averaging 18.1 points a game to go with 2.7 rebounds, four rebounds and 1.2 steals per contest. Barbosa played a valuable role with the Golden State Warriors in their 2014-15 NBA championship run as he averaged 7.1 points. In all, Barbosa appeared in 119 playoff games over his career.
- Sixth Man of the Year (2007)
Team(s): Dallas Mavericks, Minnesota Timberwolves
Career Stats: 8.9 Pts, 2.1 Rebs, 3.9 Asts
Jose Juan Barea Mora or better known as J.J. Barea was born and raised in Puerto Rico before moving to Miami to attend the Miami Christian School. Barea’s success helped lead the school to the state championship before playing college ball at Northeastern University and returning to play professional ball in Puerto Rico.
Barea, after failing to get drafted in the 2006 NBA Draft, spent time playing within the Vegas Summer League and The Rocky Mountain Revue helping him to land a multi-year deal with the Dallas Mavericks. Barea would go on to put together a solid NBA career averaging at least 10.9 points a game in six of 14 NBA seasons while averaging 8.9 points for his career. His production played a key role in the Dallas Mavericks winning the 2011 NBA Championship.
Team(s): Denver Nuggets, Washington Wizards, Houston Rockets
Career Stats: 11.3 Pts, 6 Rebs, 1.8 Asts, 1.1 Stls, .7 Blks
The Brazilian Center put together a solid NBA career across three different organizations. After spending the first three years of his career for Vasco da Gama before being drafted with the seventh overall pick of the 2002 NBA draft by the New York Knicks and dealt to the Denver Nuggets. After being drafted Nenê averaged 11.3 points a game over the course of his NBA career while averaging six rebounds and 1.8 assists per game.
- All-Rookie 1st Team (2003)
Team(s): New Jersey/Brooklyn Nets, Los Angeles Lakers, Milwaukee Bucks
Career Stats: 12.3 Pts, 5 Rebs, .7 Asts, 1.8 Blks
As the game has evolved to see more athletic and versatile big men playing different positions and being more productive away from the basket, Brook Lopez has shown his true abilities. Lopez who can play under the basket has also transitioned his NBA game to have a three point shot. Lopez, who played a key role on the Milwaukee Bucks Championship team, has been solid throughout his NBA Career.
Lopez earned a spot on the NBA All-Rookie First team as well as being an NBA All-Star in 2013. Over his career, Lopez averaged over 20 points a game in four different seasons including a career best in his All-Star season in which he averaged 20.7 points a game to go with six rebounds. Through the 2020-21 NBA season, Lopez has averaged 16.5 points a game to go along with 6.3 rebounds and 1.5 assists.
- All-Rookie 1st Team (2009)
- All-Defensive 2nd Team (2020)
- All-Star (2013)
BROOK LOPEZ POSTER pic.twitter.com/BPFtlHrkF5— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) July 21, 2021
Team(s): Boston Celtics, Atlanta Hawks, Philadelphia 76ers, Oklahoma City Thunder
Career Stats: 14.2 Pts, 6.7 Rebs, 3.4 Asts, 1.2 Blks
Coming in at number three on the list of the greatest Latino NBA players list is Al Horford who is currently a member of the Boston Celtics. Horford, who is Dominican, was born in the Dominican Republic in Puerto Plata. Horford who was drafted with the number three overall pick during the 2007 NBA draft by the Celtics has put together a stellar career as he continues to look for an NBA Championship.
Since arriving in the NBA, Horford has made five NBA All-Star teams and has been named to the NBA All-Defensive Second team and NBA All-Rookie teams. Over his career, Horford has averaged 13.9 points per game to go along with 8.2 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game.
- All-Rookie 1st Team (2008)
- All-NBA 3rd Team (2011)
- All-Defensive 2nd Team (2018)
- 5x All-Star (2010 - 2011, 2015 - 2016, 2018)
Team(s): San Antonio Spurs
Career Stats: 13.3 Pts, 3.5 Rebs, 3.8 Asts, 1.3 Stls
One of the most iconic Latino NBA players of All-Time is the former San Antonio Spurs star Manu Ginóbili. Ginóbili, who started his professional career in Argentine, was drafted by the Spurs with the 57th overall pick during the 1999 NBA draft. After being drafted, Ginóbili along with fellow stars Tony Parker and Tim Duncan, helped shape the Spurs as the team to beat around the NBA winning four NBA Championships between 2003 and 2014.
Over the course of his career, Ginóbili, was a two time NBA All-Star and won the sixth man of the year award in 2008. Over his career, Ginóbili averaged 13.3 points per game to go along with 3.8 assists per game and 3.5 rebounds per game.
- All-Rookie 2nd Team (2003)
- 2x All-NBA 3rd Team (2008, 2011)
- Sixth Man of the Year (2008)
- 2x All-Star (2005, 2011)
Team(s): Denver Nuggets, New York Knicks, Oklahoma City Thunder, Houston Rockets, Portland Trail Blazers, Los Angeles Lakers
Career Stats: 23 Pts, 6.3 Rebs, 2.8 Asts, 1 Stls
When you think of the greatest players in the NBA today as well as All-Time Carmelo Anthony’s name is one that should be talked about. However, despite his talent on the floor from his early days tearing up the Baltimore Catholic League to transferring to Oak Hill Academy to leading Syracuse to the National Championship and now his long successful NBA Career, not many fans around the game are aware Anthony’s father Carmelo Iriarte was of Puerto Rican descent. That said, Anthony is well deserving of the top spot among the Top 10 Latino NBA Players of All-Time.
Anthony, who will be joining the Los Angeles Lakers for the 2021-22 NBA season, has an accomplished resume to this point. Anthony is a 10 time NBA All-Star, NBA scoring Champion as well as a three time Gold Medal winner. While debate can be made by some if Anthony should be on this list, it is hard to look past his roots.
- All-Rookie 1st Team (2004)
- All-NBA 2nd Team (2010, 2013)
- All-NBA 3rd Team (2006 - 2007, 2009, 2012)
- 10x All-Star (2007 - 2008, 2010 - 2017)
- Scoring Champion (2013)
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