25. Luka Dončić — Slovenia
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Dončić is already beginning to solidify himself as a force to be reckoned with. The Slovenian-born guard has no holes in his offensive game. He’s a big-time shot maker who has shown no signs of shying away from the clutch moment. His playmaking and rebounding are elite for his position. Once Dallas is able to put more shooting around him, Dončić should flourish in a James Harden-like role. The poise in which he operates under is befitting for a 20-year-old who will be a star for many years to come.
24. Andrei Kirilenko — Russia
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Kirilenko may have been born in St. Petersburg, but his play most closely resembled a Swiss Army knife. The Russian native was a highly-versatile player during his solid 13-year career. During his younger years, Kirilenko was a defensive menace who could guard virtually anyone. The 6-foot-9 forward averaged over three blocks per night during an impressive three-year stretch.
23. Nikola Jokić — Serbia
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Jokić is one of the finest passers the league has ever seen. The Nuggets center runs an elite NBA offense on a nightly basis. He sees things developing two steps ahead of everybody else on the floor, and can rifle passes from awkward angles with Aaron Rodgers-like precision. In 2019, Jokić averaged 7.8 dimes per night — the most by a center since Wilt Chamberlain. His first experience in the postseason has been nothing short of a marvel.
22. Detlef Schrempf — Germany
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Instant offense. That’s exactly what Schrempf contributed over his 16-year career. The gifted German helped construct the idea of a team bringing one of its better scorers off the bench. Schrempf collected two Sixth Man of the Year trophies while with the Pacers and Sonics, providing shooting and playmaking as a lengthy 6-foot-9 forward.
21. Rudy Gobert — France
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Gobert has blossomed into a shot-blocking, pass-deflecting, rim-protecting machine over his six years in the league. The Stifle Tower is a defensive juggernaut when locked-in. He blows up pick-and-rolls, and chases away would-be slashers from the rim with regularity. He’s also one of the most efficient finishers at the basket. Gobert led all players with a 66.9 field goal percentage in 2019. He understands his role, rarely plays outside of himself, and is very consistent on both ends.
20. Al Horford — Dominican Republic
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Horford keeps on chugging along even after 12 years in the league. The native of the Dominican Republic remains one of the smartest players in the game. There’s no reason as to why Horford should be able to defend athletic marvels like Joel Embiid or Giannis Antetokounmpo. Yet, he consistently makes life hard on opposing stars. Considering his success with both the Hawks and the Celtics, it would be ludicrous to leave Horford off this list.
19. Peja Stojakovic — Croatia
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One of the most severely underrated players of the 2000’s, Stojakovic was more than just a spot-up shooter. The 6-foot-9 forward developed into an offensive force under Rick Adelman’s tutelage in Sacramento. Playing alongside Chris Webber, Stojakovic helped guide the Kings through their best five-year stretch in franchise history. He was an elite shooter during his every point of his NBA career. Peja sported a lifetime shooting slash line of 45/40/89, and finished fourth in MVP voting in 2004 (ahead of Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, LeBron James, Dirk Nowitzki, and Jason Kidd).
18. Joel Embiid — Cameroon
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After an injury-riddled beginning to his career, Embiid has blossomed into one of the most dominant low-post forces in the game today. The native of Cameroon was a late starter to the sport (having only picked up a basketball by the time he was 15). Based off his skill-set, it would seem as if Embiid had been playing his entire life. Embiid is already a two-time All-Star — and has averaged at least 20 points each year of his career. The sky is the limit for 76ers’ 25-year-old.
17. Drazen Petrovic — Croatia
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Steph. Ray. Reggie. Drazen.
No list of all-time great marksmen is complete without Petrovic. The 6-foot-5 Croatian possessed a set of skills tailor-made to succeed in today’s NBA. While he played just 290 career games in the NBA, Petrovic made a lasting impact with his elite shooting ability, lightning-quick release, and fierce competitiveness.
16. Yao Ming — China
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The 7-foot-6 Chinese center entered the league with tremendously high expectations. While Ming may have not dominated the league like many envisioned, the long-time Houston Rocket etched an impressive playing career for himself. Ming was a great scorer, and possessed a shooting touch unfitting for a man of his stature. Unfortunately, foot injuries derailed Ming’s career. Regardless, the 8-time NBA All-Star and Basketball Hall of Famer left his mark on the game.
15. Marc Gasol — Spain
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Initially used as a throw-in in the deal that sent his brother to the Lakers, Marc has become one of the defining big men of the current era. The 11-year pro entered the league as a bit of a brute. However, he has emerged as a two-way center center capable of running an offense. He’s a former Defensive Player of the Year, an excellent passer, and can fill up the scoreboard if asked to do so.
14. Dikembe Mutombo — Democratic Republic of Congo
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Dikembe Mutombo will likely go down as one of the greatest rim protectors in the game’s history. Nobody got to the basket while Mutombo lurked around the inside of the paint. His length, reflexes, and anticipation made him a supreme shot blocker. His most notable accolades include leading the No. 8 seed Nuggets in a historic upset victory over the top-seeded Sonics in the 1995 NBA Playoffs. He also took home the Defensive Player of the Year award in 2001.
13. Arvydas Sabonis — Lithuania
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The rest of the NBA should consider themselves lucky that Portland was only able to convince Sabonis to join the league once he was already 31 years old. By that time, the Lithuanian big man had a bad back and wasn’t quite the athlete he was in his heyday. That being said, Sabonis showed flashes of brilliance during his seven-year stint in the league. One of the greatest passing bigs ever, Sabonis had a knack for setting up his teammates at an elite level. The Hall of Famer would have likely crack the top-10 of this list had he chose to join the NBA earlier in his career.
12. Kyrie Irving — Australia
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Irving lives for the big moment. The 2016 NBA Champion was a major catalyst in toppling the historically-great 73-9 Golden State Warriors. He’s an offensive mastermind who can score in every way imaginable. Arguably the best ball handler in history, Irving can get to any spot on the floor with a live dribble. His trials as a true No. 1 option haven’t gone according to plan, but there’s plenty of time for the 27-year-old to add more championship accolades in the future.
11. Giannis Antetokounmpo — Greece
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Few athletes in the history of sports have been granted a more apt nickname than the “Greek Freak”. The 7-foot phenom possesses the agility of a guard with the body of Zeus. Good luck getting in the way of Giannis once he gets going towards the rim. His immense length has also allowed him to become a defensive stopper capable of guarding all positions. It’s only a matter of time until Antetokounmpo breaks the top-10.
10. Manu Ginobili — Argentina
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The first of San Antonio’s three-headed international monster, Ginobili sacrificed individual numbers for team success. The 6-foot-6 athlete could have been a 25-plus point per game scorer on a mediocre team. Instead, he chose to embrace the sixth-man role. For years during their dynastic run, the Spurs’ bench crushed opposing units. That was mainly due to Ginobili’s ability to seamlessly switch between facilitator and scorer. A passing savant who could get to the basket at will, Ginobili served as the precursor for dominant ‘jumbo’ guards of today (such as James Harden).
9. Kiki Vandeweghe — Germany
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Kiki could flat-out score. As a sharpshooting wing, Vandeweghe averaged around 25 points per night while attempting less than a single three-pointer per game. The fact that he only made two All-Star teams seems absurd looking back on it. Given his impressive scoring and shooting ability, imagine what Vandeweghe could have accomplished operating under today’s rules and offensive concepts?
8. Tony Parker — France
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The Spurs dynasty from 2000-through-A.D. (After Duncan) couldn’t have existed without Parker. The fiery speedster from France injected an entirely different style from the stoic Duncan. Parker could fill up the score board in a hurry, but he did it in ways that were atypical for a 6-foot-nothing guard. He regularly cracked the top-5 for scoring in the paint, and developed a lethal mid-range jumpshot. The Spurs absolutely do not win the 2007 NBA title without Parker — who was named Finals MVP for his efforts.
7. Pau Gasol — Spain
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The more gifted of the two Gasol brothers, Pau’s brilliance on the offensive end makes him one of the more skilled bigs we’ve seen in quite some time. Gasol was a star in Memphis early on in his career. After joining forces with Kobe Bryant in Los Angeles, Pau became one of the more malleable pieces in all of basketball. His game works with any type of team, as he found ways to contribute on the Bulls and Spurs after collecting two championships in LA.
6. Dominique Wilkins — France
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There’s no telling what ‘Nique could have accomplished had the Hawks ever granted him a viable co-star. Wilkins often times is overlooked in favor of his many championship-winning peers, but his basketball talent is undeniable. The nine-time All-Star was a supremely gifted scorer and one of the most thunderous dunkers the sport has seen. While his postseason success was shaky, Wilkins was a terrific offensive player who carried the Hawks’ franchise for the better part of a decade.
5. Patrick Ewing — Jamaica
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Ewing may have never won the big one, but there’s no disputing his place among the best bigs of his era. The 11-time All-Star was a 20-plus point per game scorer in each of his first 13 seasons in the league. His value in the volatile New York media cannot be understated. Even though his Knicks teams never won a title, Ewing helped drag a tortured franchise from the depths and regain relevancy.
4. Steve Nash — South Africa
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They don’t make point guards quite like Nash anymore. The two-time league MVP was a pure playmaker through and through. While he possessed a lethal jump-shot, Nash’s greatness sat in his ability to elevate his teammates. The Phoenix Suns were floundering before Nash arrived in 2005. With Nash, the team instantly became a 60-win squad — and one of the hallmark teams of the era. Countless teammates (Amar’e Stoudemire, Grant Hill, Shawn Marion) can thank Nash for making them look much better on the court.
3. Dirk Nowitzki — Germany
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Who would have thought the skinny teenager from Germany would have such a lasting impact on the game when Nowitzki entered the league in 1998? The sweet-shooting 7-footer has forever changed the way teams around the league view big men. Try defending Dirk with a big? He’s too quick and crafty for them. Try putting a smaller guy on him? He’ll shoot right over them. At his peak, Nowitzki was an unstoppable offensive force. He was single-handedly responsible for one of the most unlikely postseason runs ever when he led the Dallas Mavericks to the 2011 NBA title.
2. Hakeem Olajuwon — Nigeria
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Older fans of the game can attest to the fact that Olajuwon would have flourished at any level. During his peak, Olajuwon played as an ultra-efficient Joel Embiid. The innovator of the ‘Dream Shake’ move, Olajuwon’s array of scoring maneuvers is nearly unparalleled from the block. Olajuwon also impacted the game on the defensive end, averaging 3.1 blocks and 1.7 steals over his career. If it hadn’t been for a certain guard wearing No. 23 in Chicago, Olajuwon would be the unquestioned top player from the ’90s era of basketball.
1. Tim Duncan — Saint Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands
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Consistency is king when it comes to Duncan’s legacy. Duncan is on the short list of all-time greats who found a way to contribute from Year 1 up until retirement. Nothing illustrates this better than the amount of time that took place between Duncan’s first NBA championship win (1999) and his last (2014). The Spurs were the definition of excellence during his career, having never lost more than 27 games in any season of Duncan’s 20-year career. A 15-time All-NBA selection and two-time MVP, Duncan is one of the 10 greatest players to ever live. Along with that, he’s arguably the greatest power forward in league history.