Luol Deng

Best British NBA players of all-time

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The list of British NBA players is not particularly long. The country has a long association with the NBA and American culture is ingrained in everyday life. In sport, however, basketball has struggled to break through at the local and professional levels.

British people lean towards playing sports such as football, rugby (both forms), and cricket, all sports invented in Great Britain. That doesn’t mean there have been no UK NBA players, just that there have been fewer produced to date than the top European NBA players from places like France and Germany.

British NBA players

Here is a look at the best British NBA players in the history of the league to date.

Byron Mullens

When looking at British NBA players it is clear that size is important. Byron Mullens holds British nationality thanks to his mother but was born in Canal Winchester, Ohio, and went to college at Ohio State.

Highly recruited before his one year with the Buckeyes, Mullens was the No. 24 overall pick of the Dallas Mavericks in the 2009 NBA Draft. Mullens never played a game for the Mavs, instead playing two for years each in Oklahoma City and Charlotte before brief spells to end his NBA career with the Clippers and Sixers.


Injuries and not quite finding the right fit at the right time seemed to be issues for Mullens, yet he still played in 189 career NBA games averaging 7.2 points and 4.2 rebounds a game.

OG Anunoby

The only current NBA player on this list, OG Anunoby has improved each year he has been in the league.

Already one of the best British basketball players of all time, the Harlesden, London product is a typical modern NBA small forward/wing.

Anunoby moved to Jefferson City, Missouri with his father at the age of four and he grew up in the American basketball system. The No. 23 overall pick by the Toronto Raptors out of Indiana in 2017, Anunoby became the first UK NBA player to win an NBA title when the Raptors claimed the crown at the end of the 2018-19 season.


His best full year to date was the 2020-21 season. That year, Anunoby exploded for 15.9 points and 5.5 rebounds per game.

John Amaechi

John Amaechi is a modern-day Renaissance Man. The first former NBA player to come out as gay when he did so in his 2007 autobiography, the 6-foot-10, 270-pound center has transitioned from rebounding in the NBA to a career in psychology and consultancy.

Born in Boston, he was raised in North-western England and attended Stockport Grammar School. Playing college basketball first at Vanderbilt and then at Penn State, Amaechi fought his way into the league after going undrafted.

A 28-game stint with the Cavs didn’t work out, so Amaechi spent three seasons honing his craft in Europe. His latter four years in the NBA were highlighted by a season with the Orlando Magic where Amaechi averaged 10.5 points and 3.3 rebounds per game.

Amaechi also came out of a three-year retirement to represent England at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Manchester. England won a bronze medal at the games and Amaechi played a total of 18 games for England during his career.

Ben Gordon

Ben Gordon was born in London before his American parents moved him and the family to Mount Vernon New York while he was an infant. The No. 3 overall pick out of UConn by the Bulls in 2004, Gordon exploded onto the NBA scene by becoming the first-ever player to win the NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award as a rookie.

He played all 82 games that season, averaging 15.1 points per game while shooting at over 40% from behind the arc. Gordon is second in career three-point field goals for Chicago behind only Kirk Hinrich. Gordon was an All-Star snub during his best season in 2006-07.

He scored 21.4 points per game, had 3.6 assists per game, and shot 45.5% from the field that year. All were career highs.

James Donaldson

James Donaldson is one of just two British players ever to make an NBA All-Star game. He is also the all-time leader in regular-season games played by a UK export with 957. Including playoff games, Donaldson played in over 1,000 games over the span of 14-years in the league.

The Heacham, Norfolk product was a 7-foot-2, 275-pounder who showed exceptional durability for his height and weight.

After playing at Luther Burbank High School (Sacramento, CA) and Washington State, Donaldson was drafted with the No. 72 pick of the 1979 NBA Draft by the Seattle Supersonics. He averaged 8.6 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks per game in an NBA career that took him around the league with the highlight being that All-Star appearance in 1988.

Luol Deng

Luol Deng may have been born in the city of Wau in what is now South Sudan but his family emigrated to Brixton, South London when they were granted political asylum during the Second Sudanese Civil War. Deng developed as a basketball player at St. Mary’s RC High School in Croydon before moving to the United States at 14 years old to play high school ball at Blair Academy in New Jersey.

A star at Duke for one season, Deng jumped to the NBA and was the No. 7 overall pick of the 2004 NBA Draft by the Phoenix Suns. Immediately shipped to Chicago in a trade, Deng played two-thirds of his 15-year NBA career with the Bulls.

Deng was known for his motor and endurance, leading the league in minutes in both 2011-12 and 2012-13, earning All-Star accolades in both years. A role model for those wondering where effort plus talent can take you, Deng played in 902 regular season and 62 playoff games and averaged 14.8 points and 6.1 rebounds per game for his career.

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