The NBA is truly a global game. Gone are the days where the majority of all the best players in the world are from North America, and the players who will become the face of the NBA will most likely be foreign soon. When looking at NBA history, some of the greatest ever players have been from non-North American continents such as Hakeem Olajuwon, Tim Duncan, Dirk Nowitzki, and Yao Ming. Most recently, the likes of Giannis Antetokounmpo and Luka Doncic are proving their Hall of Fame status as European talents.
We have compiled the list of active NBA players and ranked them as the best in their respective continents. We have only included the players that have played for a specific continent, so Giannis Antetokounmpo is excluded from Africa as he played for Greece for example. We have also combined both South America and Asian talents into one team to maximize the quality of players when compared to the rest of the world. Here is the official list of the greatest active NBA players per continent.
Stephen Curry, Kawhi Leonard, LeBron James
Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis
North America have historically had the greatest players of all time. Players such as Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, and Larry Bird have all come from the United States and even players such as Steve Nash have come from Canada. This is also the case when analyzing the best active players.
Stephen Curry is the greatest shooter in NBA history and has to make the North American starting lineup. As the best point guard in the league and a 3-time NBA champion, he is also the best point guard on this list.
Kawhi Leonard is arguably the best 2-way player in the world and he happens to be the best defensive player for North America. A 2-time NBA champion and 2-time Finals MVP, he is an easy inclusion.
Arguably the greatest player who has ever lived, LeBron James is the first name on the list of greatest active players. A 4-time NBA champion with nearly 2 decades of dominance in the league, LeBron is the best player on this list and the best player for North America.
One of the game’s greatest scorers, Kevin Durant suits up next to LeBron James in the frontcourt. Durant has won 4 scoring titles, 2 NBA titles, and 2 Finals MVPs in his Hall of Fame career. Durant is also the best overall scorer on this list.
Anthony Davis completes the superstar North American lineup. Davis is the best big man in the NBA right now and he gets it done in every facet of the game. Davis is an NBA champion and one of the greatest talents we have ever seen at the power forward position.
Goran Dragic, Luka Doncic, Giannis Antetokounmpo
Nikola Jokic, Rudy Gobert
European players are also a big part of NBA history. Players such as Dirk Nowitzki, Pau Gasol, and Drazen Petrovic have all made incredible impact on the NBA. There is also a great crop of Hall of Fame talents in today’s NBA that reside from Europe as well.
For Europe, Goran Dragic starts at point guard. His craftiness on offense and toughness will make him a leader for Team Europe, and he is an accomplished player in the league as well. The Slovenian is a 1-time All-Star and also made the All-NBA Team in 2014.
No surprise, Luka Doncic starts for Team Europe. Doncic is an incredible talent and one of the best players in the world at 21 years old, making him an easy inclusion next to Goran Dragic. Doncic is also from Slovenia and will most likely be an MVP winner very soon.
Another no-brainer addition to Team Europe is The Greek Freak, Giannis Antetokounmpo. Giannis is already a 2-time MVP and has captured the Defensive Player of the Year Award in 2020. Giannis is the most dominant regular-season player in the NBA right now, and he is most likely the next face of the NBA upon LeBron’s retirement.
Nikola Jokic completes the lineup as the best passing big man in NBA history. Jokic is also one of the most talented basketball players in history when considering his lack of athleticism. Despite playing under the rim, Jokic dominates the game better than any other big man in the league besides Anthony Davis right now.
The French shot-blocker Rudy Gobert completes a very talented European lineup. Gobert isn’t the greatest offensive player, but his defense makes him invaluable in the NBA. He protects the rim better than any other player in the world and he will be an amazing partner to the offensively-inclined Jokic.
Gabe Vincent, Josh Okogie, Pascal Siakam
Joel Embiid, Bismack Biyombo
Some of the best NBA players in history have been African, including Hakeem Olajuwon and Dikembe Mutombo.
Gabe Vincent starts at point guard, a 2-year point guard from Nigeria who is slowly getting his career started with the Miami Heat.
Josh Okogie, the athletic guard for the Minnesota Timberwolves, bounces in the lineup alongside Vincent. Okogie is a budding player in the league and has the potential to be a special player one day. He is currently averaging 8.1 PPG for his career and his main strengths are scoring and athleticism around the rim.
Pascal Siakam, the current franchise player for the Toronto Raptors, is originally from Cameroon. Siakam is one of the best 2-way forwards in the NBA and also one of the most popular. Siakam had to earn his NBA career the hard way, and it all worked out in the end as he is an NBA champion and All-Star.
Joel Embiid is by far the best African player in the NBA. The superstar from Cameroon is one of the best offensive centers in NBA history and has already achieved great success in the league. Embiid is a 3-time All-Star who has made the All-NBA Team 2 times and the All-Defensive Team 2 times.
Bismack Biyombo is not a star player but injuries may have prevented him from taking that next leap in the NBA. Biyombo is still a very effective rebounder and shot-blocker who can provide significant minutes for his team alongside Joel Embiid. Biyombo was drafted with the 7th overall pick in the 2011 Draft.
Australia / Oceania
Patty Mills, Joe Ingles, Ben Simmons
Aron Barnes, Steven Adams
Oceanian players have been great when playing for their countries, and it was always a tough outing when competing against them in the Olympics or FIBA Tournaments.
For Australia, Patty Mills is the undisputed starter at the point guard position. Mills is one of the most experienced players in the NBA and is a streaky shooter. When he gets hot, he is capable of winning games on his own and he is a great representative for Australian fans around the world.
Joe Ingles, the tough 2-way player for the Utah Jazz, is another easy inclusion for Team Australia. Ingles is a career 40.6% shooter from three and is also a terrific defensive player. Ingles is a fan-favorite in Utah and he will certainly be one for Team Australia.
Australia’s biggest superstar is Ben Simmons. Simmons is one of the best all-around stars in recent memory and he is a one of a kind basketball player. A former Rookie of the Year winner, Simmons is a 2-time All-Star who has made the Philadelphia 76ers a force in the East. Simmons will soon become one of the best players in the world thanks to his playmaking and defense among other attributes.
The meaty big man for the Toronto Raptors, Aron Baynes is a bruiser with a terrific skill set. Standing 6’10” and weighing 260 lbs, Baynes is originally from New Zealand and shoots a career 31.9% from three which is good for a backup power forward or center.
Finally, Steven Adams completes the Oceanian lineup as the second-best player from the continent. Adams is arguably the strongest player in the league and he makes his impact by crashing the boards, playing defense, and finishing around the basket. The New Zealand man is one of the best defensive centers in the league and made the All-Rookie Team in 2014.
South America & Asia
Raul Neto, Facundo Campazzo, Jordan Clarkson
Rui Hachimura, Bruno Caboclo
When thinking of Asian players, Yao Ming immediately comes to mind. He broke new grounds for the NBA and is certainly a legend of the game. For South America, Manu Ginobili immediately comes to mind for what he did with the San Antonio Spurs.
Raul Neto is a Brazilian born player in the 2013 Draft. Playing for the Jazz, 76ers, and Wizards so far in his career; Neto averages 5.0 PPG over his career. Neto is a crafty playmaker who is effective on offense as a role player, and he is the best point guard representing Asia and South America.
Facundo Campazzo has carved out a nice role with the Denver Nuggets this season. Campazzo is a 29-year old rookie in the NBA who is originally from Argentina and is a very skilled guard. Campazzo is currently logging in 12 minutes per game with the Nuggets and is draining 40% of his three-point shots.
Jordan Clarkson is by far the best player in the NBA from Asia. Clarkson averages 14.8 PPG for his career, having played for the Lakers, Cavaliers, and Jazz. Clarkson made the All-Rookie Team in 2015 and is a very energetic scorer whether he starts or comes off the bench. Clarkson is also a fan-favorite in The Philippines.
Rui Hachimura is the best Japanese player in the NBA right now, having made the 2020 All-Rookie Team. Hachimura averages 13.5 PPG and 5.9 RPG for his career so far and is a very effective power forward in the league. Standing 6’8” and weighing 230lbs, Hachimura has a very bright future in the NBA and should be a long-term piece for the Washington Wizards.
Bruno Caboclo is a lengthy Brazilian who plays in a backup role for the Houston Rockets. Caboclo played a total of 9 seasons in the NBA; with the Grizzlies, Raptors, Kings, and Rockets. Caboclo averages 4.2 PPG and 2.5 RPG for his career with his best season coming in 2019 where he averaged 8.3 PPG and 4.6 RPG.