The NBA is one of the most exciting sports leagues in the world. Every year, people from all over the world tune into their TVs to watch the best basketball players compete against each other.
But there’s one country whose NBA players are truly unique: Spain.
The Spanish national team has been competing in men’s basketball since 1920, but it was in 1964 that they became European champions as hosts. Since then, Spain has become known for its incredibly skilled, lightning-fast players who dominate almost every position on the court.
According to the FIBA World Rankings, Spain currently holds the 1st position with 758.6 points, surpassing the United States with 757.5 points.
In short, Spain has produced some of the best basketball players in history – and many are still playing today!
We’ve compiled a list of top Spanish NBA players who deserve more recognition. Some of them are superstars playing alongside other stars; others are lesser-known players who’ve made their marks with hard work and dedication. All deserve your love and admiration!
Best Spanish NBA Players
The Spanish league has produced some of the biggest names in basketball. From Pau Gasol to Serge Ibaka, there are plenty of current and former players who give Spain an international reputation as a great place to produce top-tier talent.
Here are 15 of the best Spanish NBA players of all time:
Jose Manuel Calderon
Jose Calderon is a professional basketball player who was born on September 28, 1981, in Madrid, Spain. He has a huge name in the basketball world.
Jose began his professional career in the Spanish Second Division League before becoming successful enough to play in the NBA.
He won a FIBA World Cup title with Spain in 2006, Olympic silver medals in 2008 and 2012, and a bronze medal at the 2016 Summer Olympics.
He represented Spain’s senior national team in the 2002 FIBA World Championship in Indianapolis, where his team finished fifth.
Calderon won a lot of games during his three seasons with Tau Vitoria. His team won the Spanish King’s Cup and finished second in both the Liga ACB of Spanish League and the EuroLeague.
Jose Manuel Calderon is currently a special advisor for the Cleveland Cavaliers of the National Basketball Association. He has previously played for the Toronto Raptors, Dallas Mavericks, New York Knicks, Detroit Pistons, Los Angeles Lakers, Atlanta Hawks, and Cleveland Cavaliers. He is also a special assistant of the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA).
Fernando Martin is another Spanish player on the list of top NBA Spanish players. He was born on March 25, 1962, in Madrid, Spain.
Fernando Martin played for the Spanish national team from 1979 to 1989. He won the silver medal at the 1985 EuroBasket.
Martin was a big man who could shoot three-pointers, he also had good ball-handling skills. He was also a strong defender.
He was a key member of the Spanish team that won a silver medal at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. In 1991, he was selected as one of FIBA’s 50 Greatest Players.
On December 3, 1989, Martin died in a car accident. His death was a huge shock in Spanish basketball.
Alex Abrines is a Spanish professional basketball player for the Oklahoma City Thunder of the National Basketball Association (NBA).
He was born in Palma, Spain, but he moved to the United States to play basketball for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Alex also spent four seasons with Barcelona, where he won three titles: the Spanish ACB league championship, the Spanish King’s Cup, and the Spanish Supercup.
He won a bronze medal with the senior Spain national basketball team at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Alex is one of the best Spanish players in the NBA.
He signed a two-year contract with FC Barcelona in 2019 and later extended it until 2026.
Juancho Hernangomez is a Spanish professional basketball player who currently plays for the Toronto Raptors of the National Basketball Association. He was born on September 28, 1995, in Madrid, Spain.
Juancho has played for several teams, including CB Estudiantes, Minnesota Timberwolves, Boston Celtics and Sevilla.
He’s been playing with the Denver Nuggets since 2016, and he’s been racking up big numbers ever since. His ability to play multiple positions makes him a very valuable asset to any team. His versatility is what makes him stand out above the rest.
In 2022, Jernangmez agreed to a one-year deal with the Toronto Raptors.
Ricard Rubio is a Spanish professional basketball player. He currently plays for the National Basketball Association’s Cleveland Cavaliers. He was born on October 21, 1990, in Barcelona, Spain.
Rubio made his ACB League debut with DKV Joventut in the 2005-06 season. At 14 years and 11 months, Rubio was the ACB’s youngest player to make his debut.
On October 24, 2006, he made his EuroLeague debut. Rubio averaged 2.8 assists per game in his debut EuroLeague season.
He also won the EuroLeague with FC Barcelona in 2009-10. In the first month of the 2011-2012 NBA season, he was named the Western Conference Rookie of the Month.
Rubio signed a three-year, $18 million contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers on July 8, 2022.
Rudy Fernández is another Spanish professional basketball player who currently plays for Real Madrid of the Liga ACB. He was born on April 4, 1985.
Rudy played internationally for Spain’s national team in the 2008 Summer Olympics. And then in the 2010 FIBA World Championship, and the 2012 Summer Olympics. He is a 6’5″ shooting guard and small forward.
Rudy averaged 2.6 assists, 7.5 points, and 2.4 rebounds per game in 30 EuroLeague games.
He has two FIBA World Cup titles (2006 and 2019), two Olympic silver medals (2008 and 2012), and a bronze medal (2016 Summer Olympics).
He also won four EuroBasket championships in 2009, 2011, 2015, and 2022, as well as a silver medal and a bronze medal in 2007 and 2013, respectively.
Rudy has been named to three All-EuroLeague Teams. He won the EuroLeague title in 2015 and 2018. Rudy was also a member of the NBA All-Rookie Second Team.
He set NBA rookie records for three-point field goals made, hitting a three-pointer in 33 straight games. Rudy also made a record by making a three-pointer in his first 20 NBA games.
Juan Carlos Navarro
Juan Carlos Navarro Feijoo is another former Spanish professional basketball player. He was born on June 13, 1980.
At 6 ft 4 in, he played shooting guard during his playing career. Navarro began playing for FC Barcelona’s senior men’s club, making his Spanish ACB League debut in 1997.
He was named a EuroLeague Basketball Legend on March 14, 2014. He is the current FC Barcelona Bàsquet team manager.
Navarro won the EuroLeague twice during his professional club career, in 2003 and 2010. In addition, he was named EuroLeague MVP in 2009, EuroLeague Final Four MVP in 2010, and a member of the EuroLeague 2001-10 All-Decade Team.
He’s an incredible shooter with a lightning-quick release and limitless range, but he’s also a dangerous penetrator who knows how to get to the basket and finish despite his lack of vertical explosiveness and size.
In 2012, Navarro won a silver medal at the Summer Olympics in London. He also competed in the 2014 FIBA World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, where he won a bronze medal.
Victor Claver is a Spanish professional basketball player. He currently plays for the Portland Trail Blazers.
He was born in Bilbao, Spain, on August 30, 1988, and started his career with Valencia during the 2006-07 season.
Victor then signed with the Portland Trail Blazers and played from 2012 – 2013. After that, he signed with Toronto Raptors, where he played until 2015.
Victor Claver was a member of Spain’s Junior National team, where he won bronze medals at the 2006 FIBA Europe Under-18 Championship and the 2008 FIBA Europe Under-20 Championship.
He can handle the ball skillfully with both reliable hands and is a generous passer with excellent court vision.
He has also represented Spain at the international level during his career, where he won silver medals at EuroBasket 2011 and EuroBaskets 2013, as well as gold medals at FIBA European Championship 2009 and FIBA European Championship 2011, respectively.
Fernando San Emeterio
Fernando San Emeterio is one of the most beloved Spanish players to ever play in the NBA. He was born in Barcelona, Spain, and he started playing basketball at an early age.
San Emeterio made his professional debut with FC Barcelona Bàsquet in 2001 while being a member of the Spanish national basketball team. His first season with FC Barcelona ended up being very successful as they won both the ACB League Championship and ACB Finals MVP Award, which earned him a spot on the All-ACB First Team for that year.
San Emeterio announced his retirement on July 1, 2021, from professional basketball.
After retiring, he began his career as an assistant coach for Valencia Basket of the Spanish Liga ACB.
Pau Gasol is a Spanish professional basketball player who plays for the NBA and the Spanish National Team. He was born in Barcelona, Spain, on July 6, 1980.
He began his career with Futbol Club Barcelona, but he first completed a year of medical studies at the University of Barcelona before pursuing a career in basketball.
Paul is one of the greatest power forwards of all time, as well as one of the greatest European players of all time.
Gasol won two NBA championships in 2009 and 2010. He was also the first non-American player to win the NBA Rookie of the Year award with the Memphis Grizzlies in 2002.
Paul played a key role in Spain’s gold medal win at the 2006 FIBA World Championship. He also played a key role in Spain’s three European Championship victories (2009, 2011 and 2015), earning MVP honours in two of them.
Born in Barcelona, Spain, Gasol is a 7-footer who has played for the Memphis Grizzlies since 2008. The 6 foot 11-inch centre started playing basketball at age 12 and was one of the best players in Europe before coming over to play in the NBA. He was named NBA Defensive Player of the Year in 2013 and was selected as an All-Star twice (2011 and 2013).
In addition to winning an NBA championship with his brother Pau Gasol on their home court in Barcelona, Marc won a EuroLeague title with FC Barcelona in 2009 as well as two Spanish Leagues championships while playing overseas before becoming eligible for college basketball.
He also won two gold medals representing Spain at both European Championships (2006) and World Championships (2010).
Serge Ibaka was born in the Congo, but he plays for Spain’s national team. He has played for the Orlando Magic, Toronto Raptors and Oklahoma City Thunder over the course of his career. He was born in Bangui, Central African Republic and emigrated to Spain when he was six years old.
Ibaka began his career by joining Inter Club in 2006 and later played with a second-division basketball club CB L’Hospitalet.
In 2009, Ibaka joined the Oklahoma City Thunder and became a full-time NBA starter by 2011. He helped lead the team to two Western Conference Finals appearances and one NBA Finals appearance during his six seasons with them before being traded to the Toronto Raptors in 2017.
Ibaka is known for his ability to block shots, which he has done over 1,300 times throughout his career. He also has over 2,000 career rebounds.
His team won the gold medal at Eurobasket 2011, defeating France in the final 98-85. At the 2012 Summer Olympics, he also won a silver medal with Spain.
Willy Hernangomez is a Spanish NBA player who currently plays for the Charlotte Hornets.
Hernangomez was born in Spain on May 27 1994, and he started playing basketball when he was just ten years old.
He played for Baloncesto Sevilla from 2010 to 2013 before moving on to Real Madrid B in 2013. In 2014, he signed with Real Madrid as a professional player and stayed there until 2016. In 2016, Hernangomez was drafted by the New York Knicks as their second-round pick (35th overall).
Since then, he has played for the Knicks Summer League team in 2016 and again in 2017 alongside other future NBA stars. In 2018, Hernangomez signed with the Charlotte Hornets, where he averaged 8 points per game while shooting 52% from the field.
Sergio Rodriguez (el chacho)
Born in Madrid, Spain, Sergio Rodriguez has been known by the nickname el chacho since his basketball playing days.
He began playing for the Spanish national team in 2003 up until 2013 and was a member of their squad that won the gold medal at the 2008 Summer Olympics.
Rodriguez played for various teams from 2005-2015, including Sacramento Kings (2005), Minnesota Timberwolves (2008-2009), New York Knicks (2009-2010) and Philadelphia 76ers (2010).
Rodrguez is a regular member of Spain’s senior national team, with whom he won a FIBA World Cup title in 2006.
Rodrguez, regarded as one of the best European prospects of his generation, was named MVP of the 2004 FIBA Europe Under-18 Championship.
In addition, he has won two Olympic medals (one bronze, one silver), which are awarded to winners of the Summer Olympics.
Nikola Mirotic was born in Montenegro, but he moved to Spain with his family when he was five. He grew up playing for Real Madrid’s youth teams and eventually made his debut with the senior team at age 18. In 2009, he became the youngest Spanish player to play in Euroleague and ACB at only 19 years old.
He emerged as one of his team’s most valuable players during the 2010-11 Euroleague season, winning the EuroLeague Rising Star award.
Miroti averaged 10.8 points and 4.5 rebounds per game in 97 EuroLeague games for Real Madrid.
He was named to the All-Tournament Team after assisting Spain’s U20 national team to a bronze medal at the 2010 FIBA Europe Under-20 Championship. In 2011, he also led Spain to the gold medal.
In 2012,2014, and 2021, he won the Spanish King’s Cup and the Spanish Supercup in 2012 and 2013.
Miroti was the tournament’s leading scorer and MVP, averaging 27 points (a tournament record) and ten rebounds per game.
So there you have it, our list of the top 15 Spanish NBA players. We hope you enjoyed reading it as much as we enjoyed putting it together.
Let us know who you think the best Spanish NBA player of all time is!
If there are any other players that you think should be added to this list, let us know that too in the comments section below!