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Top 5 Spanish players to play in the NBA

Los Angeles Lakers v Phoenix Suns, Game 3
Los Angeles Lakers v Phoenix Suns, Game 3
Godwin Mathew
ANALYST

NBA has been home to some of the world's best basketball talent. Despite being an American sport, basketball is loved and played by millions around the globe. The impact of several players like Hakeem Olajuwon, Dirk Nowitzki, Tony Parker and Pau Gasol is beyond measure.

They were some of the best to ever step foot on the court and made fans realize that any player with talent can boss the game. One such country that has always been successful in producing world-class talent is Spain. In today's article, we discuss the top five Spanish players to ever play in the league.

Top 5 best Spanish players to play in the NBA

#5 Jose Manuel Calderon

Detroit Pistons Media Day
Detroit Pistons Media Day

Jose Manuel Calderon started his NBA career with the Toronto Raptors. He managed to play 64 games for them in his rookie season and averaged 23.2 minutes. He had a pretty ordinary rookie season, but as time went by he became a starting PG for the Raptors in the NBA.

His best season in Toronto came during the 2008-09 season. Jose Calderon started 68 games that year and averaged 12.8 PPG and 8.9 APG shooting at a phenomenal 40.6% from the 3 point range.

He then moved to Detroit in 2013, where he instantly became the starting PG. Later that year, the Spaniard moved to Dallas on a 4 year $28 million deal. In the 81 games he played for the Mavericks, Calderon averaged 11.4 PPG, he was a starter on the team but was once again traded at the end of the season to the New York Knicks.

He nailed some vital clutch shots in his 2-year stay at the Garden. Calderon then moved to the Lakers for the 2016-17 season, before being traded to the Atlanta Hawks. He was waived off by the Hawks and eventually ended up with the Cavaliers, where he made a trip to the NBA finals.

Calderon's career in the NBA has been full of ups and downs, but the Spaniard made the point guard position his own by displaying terrific on-court vision. He was also a vital part of the Spanish national team in 3 Olympic campaigns, where they won two silver and one bronze medal.

#4 Ricky Rubio

Spain v United States Men's Basketball - Olympics: Day 11
Spain v United States Men's Basketball - Olympics: Day 11

Ricky Rubio arrived in the NBA after a lot of controversies. He was drafted 5th overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2009, but due to certain problems stayed abroad until 2011. His entry into the league was celebrated by the Timberwolves fans, as he had made a lot of noise in Spain with his terrific performances.

In his rookie season in the NBA, Rubio averaged 10.6 PPG and 8.2 APG in the 41 games he played that year. He was named in the NBA All-Rookie first team courtesy of his terrific on-court performances. Rubio was a stalwart in Minnesota and became a crowd favorite because of his brilliance there.

He played six seasons for Minnesota before moving to a young and exciting Utah Jazz team. Rubio was an instant starter there and he also helped players like Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert get to their best. After two seasons in Utah, Ricky moved to Phoenix for the 2019-20 season. He was phenomenal there as he started 65 games and averaged 13.0 PPG and 8.8 APG.

The Spaniard moved to Minnesota again for the 2020-21 season. He was a vital part of the dressing room and was often seen giving important instructions to youngsters. In his 10 year long NBA career, Rubio has won the respect of many players with his terrific abilities on the court. Other than being a great player, he also motivates his teammates and tries to bring out the best in them every time they step on the court.


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Edited by Arnav Kholkar
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