The NBA has and is a worldwide league, attracting players from across the world. In the process, tens of thousands of players from all over the world have found their way to the NBA. With some having greater success than others. Since the 90s, the Asian market has been a significant asset to the NBA, be it for commercial reasons or their best players. But, we all know its for commercial.
Asia is a powerhouse and has one of the worlds largest fan base. It’s only right we show Asia some love, and lets be honest. Asia has some hoopers and they can play!
In this post today, we are going to list the best 7 players from Asia who played in the NBA.
- Yao Ming
- Hamed Haddadi
- Wang Zhizhi
- Omri Casspi
- Yuta Tabuse
- Rui Hachimura
- Yuta Watanabe
1. Yao Ming (China)
Yao Ming is regarded as the best ever basketball player to ever come out of Asia.
He stands at 7’6”, and spent 9 full seasons with the Houston Rockets, leading their attack alongside Tracy McGrady. But, unfortunately, their efforts never landed them even a single Championship trophy.
Nevertheless, Ming was inducted to the Basketball Hall of Fame and is currently NBA’s biggest ambassador in Asia.
Although injuries hindered his career progression, Yao Ming is still one of the most cherished athletes of the 2000s – Just ask twitter.
2. Hamed Haddadi (Iran)
Hamed Haddadi is a towering 7’2” professional player who played for the Phoenix Suns in the 2013 season.
He was the first player from Iran to be part of the NBA roaster. However things really didn’t work out for him in the Association and so he packed his bags and returned to his native country, Iran.
He currently plays in the Chinese League and has gained the reputation by becoming on of the best in the Asian market.
During the FIBA ASIA Championship tournament, Haddadi was named the MVP.
3. Wang Zhizhi (China)
Wang Zhizhi became the first-ever player from china to be drafted by an NBA team in the 1999 NBA Draft. He then spent 5 seasons with the Dallas Mavericks, Clippers, and Heat as a center, averaging 4.4 points and 1.7 boards per game before returning to China.
4. Omri Casspi (Israel)
Casspi is an Israelite professional basket player currently playing for the Golden State Warriors.
In total, Casspi spent 9 seasons in the NBA and experience the most success with the Sacramento Kings, where he posted career averages of 11.8 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 1.4 assists per game.
Though in stature he is relatively small, Casspi is a solid forward who helped the Warriors to the NBA Championship of the 2017/2018 season.
5. Yuta Tabuse (Japan)
Yuta Tabuse is still the first-ever Japanese player to play in the NBA. During the 2003/2004 season, he played as a point guard for the Phoenix Suns, however to the least success.
Tabuse then spent a number of years wandering around summer camps as well as Development League.
Despite his misfortunes, he is still one of the best Japanese basketball players.
6. Rui Hachimura (Japan)
Rui is a young black Japanese player all the way from Japan. Standing at an impressive 6 feet 8 inches with a wing span of nine feet.
Rui played college basketball with Gonzaga where he became a standout athlete. But, what most instructing about is story is the fact he did not know a lick of English before moving to the states. Rui literally had to learn English but simply playing basketball with his English speaking teammates and coaches.
Furthermore, Rui was drafted by the Washington Wizards in 2019 with there 9th pick overall.
7. Yuta Watanabe
Yuta Watanabe, another Japanese standout. Watanabe is actually the first japense native to sign and secure a NCAA Division 1 scholarship. Playing for the infamous George Washington Colonials where he was named Atlantic 10 Conference defensive player of the year in 2018.
He has also repped Japan internationally and helped his team secure a bronze medal at to 2013 East Asia Basketball Championship.
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