11 Best Asian NBA Players Of All Time

Last Updated on: 19th September 2023, 05:00 pm

Best Asian NBA Players

Are you ready to dive into the incredible world of basketball talent? Look no further than our in-depth analysis of the 11 best Asian NBA players of all time.

Like a skilled conductor leading an orchestra, these athletes have left an indelible mark on the game, showcasing their exceptional skills and determination.

From dominating the paint to draining clutch shots from beyond the arc, these players have become legends in their own right.

So grab a seat and prepare to be amazed by their awe-inspiring journeys!

Top 10 Asian NBA Players

When discussing the top Asian NBA players of all time, several names immediately come to mind.

Rui Hachimura from Japan has quickly made a name for himself in the league with his impressive skills and versatility.

Yuta Watanabe, also from Japan, has shown great potential as a two-way player, making significant contributions on both ends of the floor.

Jeremy Lin from Taiwan achieved worldwide fame during ‘Linsanity’ and remains a respected player in the league.

Zhou Qi from China is known for his shot-blocking abilities and has made strides in his development as an NBA player.

Lastly, Hamed Haddadi from Iran was a dominant force during his time in the league, showcasing his size and skill set as a center.

Rui Hachimura (Japan)

Don’t overlook Rui Hachimura – he’s one of the best Asian NBA players ever.

Hachimura has made a significant impact since entering the league, and his journey in the NBA is already quite impressive.

In his rookie season with the Washington Wizards, Hachimura showcased his versatile skillset, averaging 13.5 points and 6.1 rebounds per game.

His ability to score both inside and outside makes him a valuable asset on offense, while his athleticism also allows him to contribute on defense.

With each passing game, Hachimura continues to show glimpses of his potential to become a dominant force in the league.

As he honed his skills and gained more experience, there’s no doubt that Rui Hachimura will leave an indelible mark on Asian basketball history.

Learn more about Rui Hachimura’s dunking skills here.

Yuta Watanabe (Japan)

You should watch Yuta Watanabe – he’s making waves in the NBA. His rise to the professional basketball league has been remarkable despite facing numerous challenges.

Here are some key points about Watanabe that highlight his impact and cultural significance:

  • Rise to NBA: After playing college basketball at George Washington University, Watanabe went undrafted in 2018 but signed a two-way contract with the Memphis Grizzlies. He became the second Japanese-born player to sign an NBA contract.
  • Challenges faced: As an international player, Watanabe had to adjust to a different style of play and compete against top-tier athletes. However, he persevered through hard work and determination.
  • Impact on Japanese basketball: Watanabe’s success in the NBA has inspired young Japanese players and brought increased attention to basketball in Japan. He has become a role model for aspiring athletes in his home country.
  • Cultural significance: Being one of only a few Japanese players in the NBA, Watanabe represents not just himself but also his culture and country. His achievements contribute to breaking down stereotypes and promoting diversity within the league.
  • Prospects: With continued development and opportunities, there is no doubt that Yuta Watanabe has a promising future ahead of him in the NBA. Keep watching as he makes strides on both ends of the court.

Jeremy Lin (Taiwan)

Jeremy Lin, a Taiwanese-American basketball player, gained widespread recognition for his impressive performance during the ‘Linsanity’ era in the NBA.

His journey to the league was difficult, as he faced numerous challenges and doubts. However, Lin’s perseverance and skill allowed him to break barriers and become a symbol of Taiwanese pride.

Lin’s success in the NBA has significantly impacted Asian basketball talent and representation in the league. He has inspired young players across Asia to pursue their dreams and prove they can compete at the highest level.

Moreover, Lin’s impact extends beyond basketball; he has become a role model for many Asians who see him as a source of inspiration and empowerment.

Zhou Qi (China)

If you’re a fan of Chinese basketball, Zhou Qi’s skills and potential are worth watching. As one of the rising stars in Asian basketball, Zhou Qi has significantly impacted Chinese basketball and is now making his mark in the NBA.

Here are five reasons why Zhou Qi is an exciting player to watch:

  • Impressive height and wingspan: Standing at 7’1′ with a wingspan of 7’8′, Zhou Qi possesses excellent defensive abilities and shot-blocking skills.
  • Versatility on both ends of the court: With his size and agility, Zhou Qi can score inside the paint, shoot from mid-range, and defend multiple positions effectively.
  • International representation: Zhou Qi’s success in the NBA inspires aspiring Chinese players, promoting growth and development in Chinese basketball.
  • The globalization of basketball: Zhou Qi’s presence in the NBA highlights the increasing international representation in the league, showcasing the talent from different countries.
  • Potential for future success: At only 24 years old, Zhou Qi has room to grow and improve his game, making him an exciting prospect for fans worldwide.

Zhou Qi’s journey exemplifies how Chinese basketball players are making their mark on the global stage while contributing to basketball’s growing popularity and globalization.

Hamed Haddadi (Iran)

Regarding Iranian basketball, Hamed Haddadi’s dominant presence in the paint cannot be overlooked. His impact on Iranian basketball has been immense, as he has represented his country with great pride and skill.

Haddadi’s transition from international play to the NBA was a significant moment in his career. He showcased his abilities as a center and impressed with his rebounding and shot-blocking skills.

Although he didn’t have a lengthy NBA career, Haddadi had some notable highlights during his time in the league. He played for teams like the Memphis Grizzlies and Phoenix Suns, where he made valuable contributions off the bench.

His legacy as one of the top Asian players in the NBA is well-deserved, as he paved the way for future generations of Iranian basketball players to strive for success at the highest level of competition.

Satnam Singh (India)

Satnam Singh, from India, made history as the first player from his country to be drafted into the NBA. His journey to the NBA was one filled with challenges and obstacles. However, despite these difficulties, Singh’s impact on Indian basketball cannot be understated.

Here are five key aspects of Satnam Singh’s legacy in Indian sports:

  • Impact on Indian basketball: Satnam Singh’s success has inspired a new generation of young basketball players in India, giving them hope and belief that they can make it to the highest level.
  • Journey to the NBA: Singh’s path to the NBA was unprecedented for an Indian player. His perseverance and determination paved the way for other talented players from India who aspire to play in the league.
  • Challenges in the NBA: Adjusting to a new culture, language barrier, and intense competition were some of the hurdles that Singh faced in his NBA career. Despite these challenges, he remained dedicated and continued to improve.
  • Role in promoting basketball in India: Satnam Singh’s achievements have helped raise awareness about basketball in India and have led to increased participation at grassroots levels.
  • Legacy in Indian sports: Satnam Singh will always be remembered as a trailblazer who opened doors for future generations of Indian basketball players. His impact on Indian sports goes beyond his success but also extends to inspiring others and leaving behind a lasting legacy.

Jordan Clarkson (Philippines)

You should know that Jordan Clarkson, from the Philippines, is making a significant impact in the world of basketball.

His influence on Filipino basketball culture cannot be understated.

As one of the rising Asian stars in the NBA, Clarkson’s success represents the growing presence and recognition of talented Asian players in the league.

Born to a Filipino-American mother and an African-American father, Clarkson’s journey from college basketball to the NBA has been remarkable.

He has showcased his skills on the court and become a role model for aspiring Filipino basketball players.

Moreover, Clarkson has actively promoted and supported basketball in the Philippines through various initiatives, further solidifying his connection with his heritage and the sport he loves.

The impact of Jordan Clarkson extends beyond his achievements; he’s helping shape a new era for Asian representation in professional basketball.

Kai Sotto (Philippines)

Let’s shift our focus to another rising basketball talent from the Philippines: Kai Sotto. With his towering height and remarkable skills, Sotto has the potential to make a significant impact in the NBA.

Here are some key points about Kai Sotto and his journey towards the NBA:

  • Rising basketball talent in the Philippines: Sotto is regarded as one of the most promising young players in Filipino basketball, attracting local and international attention.
  • Impact of Filipino players in the NBA: The success of Filipino players like Jordan Clarkson has paved the way for more opportunities for young talents like Sotto to showcase their skills on a global stage.
  • Asian representation in professional basketball: As an Asian player, Sotto represents not only his country but also inspires aspiring players across Asia who dream of playing at the highest level.
  • Kai Sotto’s journey to the NBA: From honing his skills in local leagues to joining international competitions like Basketball Without Borders, Sotto is determined to be worthy of playing among basketball’s elite.

The future looks bright for Kai Sotto as he continues developing his game and striving to make it to the NBA.

Sim Bhullar (India)

With his towering height and impressive skills, Sim Bhullar has become a notable figure in Indian basketball. His impact on the sport in India cannot be overstated. Bhullar’s success inspires aspiring young basketball players in the country, contributing to the rise of basketball in India.

After a successful college basketball career at New Mexico State University, where he became the first player of Indian descent to play Division I basketball, Bhullar took on the challenge of making it to the NBA. Although he faced challenges like any other Asian player trying to break into the league, Bhullar’s determination and talent earned him a spot on the Sacramento Kings’ roster for the 2014-2015 season.

While his time in the NBA was limited, Sim Bhullar paved the way for future generations of Indian and Asian players looking to make their mark in professional basketball.

Yi Jianlian (China)

If you’re a fan of Chinese basketball, you can’t ignore the impact that Yi Jianlian has had on the sport in his home country. As one of the most successful Chinese basketball players in the NBA, he has paved the way for other Asian players to make their mark on the international stage. Here are some key points to consider:

  • Chinese basketball players in the NBA: Yi Jianlian’s success has inspired many young Chinese athletes to pursue basketball and dream of playing in the NBA.
  • International representation in the NBA: Yi Jianlian’s presence in the league represents a growing trend of international players making their mark on one of America’s biggest sports.
  • Asian players making an impact in the NBA: Yi Jianlian is just one example of how Asian players leave their mark on American basketball and prove that talent knows no boundaries.
  • The growth of basketball in Asia: With more Asian players like Yi Jianlian entering professional leagues worldwide, there is a noticeable increase in interest and participation in basketball throughout Asia.
  • The influence of Asian players on the NBA: Yi Jianlian’s success showcases his skill and demonstrates how Asian players can contribute positively to teams and help shape strategies within the league.

Yi Jianlian’s journey from China to becoming an influential player in the NBA is a testament to his hard work, talent, and dedication. His impact goes beyond just his individual achievements; it inspires aspiring Chinese and Asian athletes who seek to excel at basketball on a global level.

Yao Ming (China)

You can’t underestimate Yao Ming’s impact on Chinese basketball and his influence on aspiring players in his home country. Standing at 7’6′, Yao Ming was a dominant force in the NBA, representing China with pride and excellence.

His career highlights include being an eight-time NBA All-Star, two-time NBA scoring leader, and leading the Houston Rockets to multiple playoff appearances. Not only did he elevate his own game, but he also paved the way for future generations of Chinese basketball players.

Yao’s legacy is not limited to his on-court achievements; he became a global ambassador for the sport and played a crucial role in expanding its popularity in China. His international recognition grew as he carried the flag for China during the Olympic Games and FIBA World Championships.

Today, his impact continues to be felt as Chinese players strive to follow in his footsteps and make their mark on the basketball world.


In conclusion, these 11 Asian NBA players have left an indelible mark on the league’s history. From the legendary Yao Ming to the sharpshooting Jeremy Lin, their contributions cannot be overlooked.

Their skill, determination, and perseverance have shattered stereotypes and paved the way for future generations of Asian athletes in basketball.

As the saying goes, ‘The proof is in the pudding,’ these players have proved that Asians can excel on the highest stage of professional basketball.