Top 15 best Spanish NBA players of all time: Find out who is on the list

Top 15 best Spanish NBA players of all time: Find out who is on the list

Helix Odhiambo
updated at April 12, 2023 at 8:22 PM

The NBA is one of the most entertaining leagues globally and has attracted many talented basketball stars worldwide. For many young stars, playing in the league and featuring for the best teams is a dream come true. Spain is one country that has produced top stars in NBA. The best Spanish NBA players of all time have made a fortune in their careers.

Spanish NBA players
Spain has produced many basketball stars who have played for top teams in the NBA. Photo: David Sherman, Stacy Revere, Stephen Gosling, Andrew D. Bernstein (modified by author)
Source: Getty Images

Basketball is one of the most popular sports in Spain, alongside football and tennis. The country is known for its talented and fast basketball stars like Paul Gasol, Sergio Rodríguez, and Fernando Martín, the first Spaniard to play in the NBA. Most famous Spanish basketball players have represented more than one team in the NBA.

Spanish NBA players all time


NBA team (S)

Pau Gasol

San Antonio Spurs, Memphis Grizzlies, Los Angeles Lakers, Chicago Bulls, Milwaukee Bucks

Marc Gasol

Memphis Grizzlies, Toronto Raptors, Los Angeles Lakers

Nikola Mirotic

Chicago Bulls, New Orleans Pelicans, Milwaukee Bucks

Fernando Martin

Portland Trail Blazers

Serge Ibaka

Orlando Magic, Oklahoma City Thunder, Toronto Raptors, Los Angeles Clippers, Milwaukee Bucks

Ricky Rubio

Minnesota Timberwolves, Utah Jazz, Phoenix Suns, Cleveland Cavaliers

Álex Abrines

Oklahoma City Thunder

José Manuel Calderón

Cleveland Cavaliers, Utah Jazz, Phoenix Suns, Minnesota Timberwolves

Sergio Rodríguez

Philadelphia 76ers, Portland Trail Blazers, Sacramento Kings, New York Knicks

Juancho Hernangomez

Denver Nuggets, Minnesota Timberwolves, Boston Celtics, San Antonio Spurs, Utah Jazz, Toronto Raptors

Rudy Fernandez

Portland Trail Blazers, Denver Nuggets

Juan Carlos Navarro

Memphis Grizzlies

Victor Claver

Portland Trail Blazers

Willy Hernangómez

New York Knicks, Charlotte Hornets, New Orleans Pelicans

Jorge Garbajosa

Toronto Raptors

Besides starring in the NBA, the famous Spanish national basketball team players also made history in the Liga ACB and the EuroLeague. The Liga ACB is the top-tier basketball league in Spain and the third best globally after NBA and EuroLeague.

How many Spanish NBA players do you know?

You may be familiar with the iconic brothers of Pau and Marc Gasol or former Bulls star Nikola Mirotic. However, we have witnessed dozens of top Spanish NBA players doing wonders on the court. Enjoy our list of the best 15, including active Spanish NBA players and their positions.

15. Jorge Garbajosa - Point guard

Spanish NBA players in 2022
Jorge Garbajosa of the Toronto Raptors is on the court during the game against the San Antonio Spurs on 5 November 2006 at Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Canada. Photo: David Sherman
Source: Getty Images

Garbajosa is a basketball legend currently serving as the president of the Spanish Basketball Federation. He was one of the country's top basketballers in the NBA. Garbajosa played for Toronto Raptors for two seasons (2006-2008). He was also a key player in the national team.

14. Willy Hernangómez - Centre, forward

Hernangómez plays for Charlotte Hornets and is one of the top Spanish-speaking NBA players. The New York Knicks drafted him as their second-round pick (35th overall) in 2016. The Spaniard also played for New Orleans Pelicans. His professional career started in 2014 after joining Real Madrid. He is also among the current Spanish NBA players in the American league.

13. Victor Claver - Forward

Spanish NBA players all time
Portland Trail Blazers' Victor Claver shoots against the Los Angeles Clippers during the game on 24 October 2014 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. Photo: Juan O'Campo
Source: Getty Images

Born in Bilbao, Spain, Claver began his career with Valencia in 2006. He represented Spain's Junior National team, where he won multiple titles. Claver joined the Portland Trail Blazers in 2012 and left in 2015. He also represented Spain's national team and won silver medals at EuroBasket 2011 and EuroBaskets 2013.

12. Juan Carlos Navarro - Shooting guard

Navarro is a former Spanish basketball star who played as a shooting guard. He represented FC Barcelona's senior men's team and won numerous titles and awards, including EuroLeague MVP in 2009. Navarro also featured for Memphis Grizzlies from 2007-2008.

11. Rudy Fernandez - Forward

Top Spanish NBA players
Rudy Fernandez of the Portland Trail Blazers dribbles the ball against the Denver Nuggets at Pepsi Center on 28 December 2010 in Denver, Colorado. Photo: Doug Pensinger
Source: Getty Images

Fernandez currently plays for Real Madrid of the Liga ACB. He is among the famous Spanish basketball players who starred in the NBA. He was drafted in 2007 in round one pick 24 by Phoenix Suns but represented Portland Trail Blazers and Denver Nuggets. Fernandez has two FIBA World Cup titles, two Olympic silver medals, and a bronze medal.

10. Juancho Hernangomez - Center, power forward

Juancho is the Spanish basketball player in the Hustle movie, starring alongside Adam Sandler in the Netflix production. Rubio is one of the best players of his generation, having won many titles and accolades. He has played for six NBA teams, including Denver Nuggets, Boston Celtics, and Toronto Raptors.

9. Sergio Rodríguez - Point guard

Spanish-speaking NBA players
Sergio Rodriguez (14) of the Philadelphia 76ers drives to the basket against the Oklahoma City Thunder on 22 March 2017 at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Photo: Layne Murdoch
Source: Getty Images

Rodriguez was one of the leaders of the legendary Real Madrid team that conquered domestic and European competitions between 2014 and 2015. He was also an essential member of the national team. Rodriguez starred at the Philadelphia 76ers, Portland Trail Blazers, Sacramento Kings, and New York Knicks in the NBA. He returned to Real Madrid in July 2022 from Olimpia Milano in Italy.

8. José Manuel Calderón - Point guard

Calderon also made his name in basketball by joining the list of Spanish icons who excelled in the NBA. He is a former player serving as a special advisor for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Before retiring, Calderon played for six NBA teams, including the Cavaliers. He also represented his national team in international tournaments.

7. Álex Abrines - Shooting guard, small forward

Famous Spanish basketball players
Oklahoma City Thunder's Alex Abrines (8) looks on during their game against the Sacramento Kings on 19 December 2018 at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California. Photo: Rocky Widner
Source: Getty Images

Alex Abrines was born in Palma, Spain, but he moved to the United States to play basketball for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Abrines also spent four seasons with Barcelona and won multiple titles. He also won a bronze medal with the senior Spain national basketball team at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

6. Ricky Rubio - Point Guard

One of the best-paid Spanish NBA players in 2020, Ricky Rubio's talents and skills have helped him make good fortune in his career. Rubio plays for Cleveland Cavaliers as a point guard, and he previously represented Utah Jazz, Phoenix Suns, and Minnesota Timberwolves. In July 2022, he penned a three-year deal worth $18 million with the Cavaliers.

5. Serge Ibaka - Centre, power forward

Spanish national basketball team players
Spain's Serge Ibaka (25) of the Milwaukee Bucks drives around Kevin Love (0) of the Cleveland Cavaliers during a game at Fiserv Forum on 16 November 2022 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Photo: Stacy Revere
Source: Getty Images

Ibaka was born in Bangui, Central African Republic but migrated to Spain when he was six years old. He began his early career in Spain's lower divisions before moving to Oklahoma City Thunder in 2009. Ibaka has also played for the Orlando Magic, Toronto Raptors, and the Los Angeles Clippers. He plays for the Milwaukee Bucks, making him one of the best Spanish NBA players in 2022.

4. Fernando Martin - Center, power forward

Martin was a strong defender and one of the best of his generation. He joined Portland Trail Blazers in 1986, becoming the first Spaniard to play in the NBA. Martin also represented his national team from 1979 to 1989, winning the silver medal at the 1985 EuroBasket. Sadly, he died in a car accident on 3 December 1989.

3. Nikola Mirotic - Power forward

Active Spanish NBA players
Nikola Mirotic (41) of the Milwaukee Bucks jogs across the court against the Toronto Raptors during the NBA Playoffs at the Fiserv Forum on 17 May 2019 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Photo: Jonathan Daniel
Source: Getty Images

Another exceptional Spanish talent to have played in the NBA is Nikola Mirotic. The power forward grew up playing for Real Madrid's youth teams. Nikola joined Chicago Bulls in 2014 and later moved to New Orleans Pelicans and Milwaukee Bucks. Currently, he plays for FC Barcelona.

2. Marc Gasol - Centre

Spanish NBA players in 2020
Marc Gasol (13) of the Spain Men's National Team handles the ball against the USA Team at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics on 3 August 2021 at the Super Saitama Arena in Tokyo, Japan. Photo: Stephen Gosling
Source: Getty Images

Did you know that Spanish NBA players Marc and Pau are brothers? Marc is the youngest of the two and has achieved a lot in basketball. He began his career in his hometown, Barcelona, before taking his talent to North America. In 2019, Marc won the NBA title with Toronto Raptors, making the Gasol brothers the first siblings in NBA history to win the championship.

Who is the best Spanish basketball player of all time?

Marc's elder brother, Pau Gasol, is considered the greatest Spain basketball player ever. According to stats, he is among the best NBA power forwards of all time.

1. Pau Gasol - Power forward

Who is the best Spanish basketball player of all time?
Pau Gasol of the Los Angeles Lakers poses with the Larry O'Brien trophy during Media Day at Toyota Sports Center on 25 September 2010 in El Segundo, California. Photo: Andrew D. Bernstein
Source: Getty Images

Pau also grew up in Barcelona, where he began nurturing his talent. He quickly rose to become a star and a global icon. Gasol won two NBA championships with LA Lakers and was the first non-American player to win the NBA Rookie of the Year award (2002). He also helped his national team win titles like a gold medal at the 2006 FIBA World Championship and three European Championships. (2009, 2011 and 2015). Pau retired from basketball in October 2021.

The best Spanish NBA players above have inspired many young basketball players who try to follow their footpaths. They have also earned Spain an international reputation for producing fantastic basketball talents.

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Helix Odhiambo photo
Helix Odhiambo
Helix Odhiambo is an award-winning Kenyan journalist and content creator with over 6 years of experience. In 2016, he won the Goal Blaze Correspondent Award for young writers.