British men’s basketball has produced several NBA players over the years. Great Britain is not the first country people think of when it comes to basketball. Surprisingly though, the British have produced a lot of quality NBA players that people may not know about. Not to mention current Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse, who spent a lot of his coaching career in Great Britain. There are a lot of British players who played in the NBA, which includes players who grew up in the U.S. but also have links to Great Britain.
The NBA All-Time Team for British Men’s NBA Basketball
Center – James Donaldson (1980-93, 1995)
James Donaldson is by far the best center to have links to Great Britain. He was drafted 73rd by the Seattle Supersonics (now the Oklahoma City Thunder). In his rookie 1980-81 season, he averaged 5.3 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks per game. However, he only had a 59.4 percent free-throw percentage, something he would improve on in his NBA career.
His career though did not take off until he went to the San Diego Clippers in the 1983-84 NBA season. In that season, he averaged a career-high in 11.8 points, 7.9 rebounds, 1.1 assists, and 1.7 blocks per game. Furthermore, in that season his free-throw percentage was 76.1 percent. This free-throw percentage was a big improvement from last season, which was 68.8 percent. He also had 11.3 points per game in the 1984-85 NBA season with the same team who relocated to Los Angeles to become the Los Angeles Clippers.
He also spent a lot of time with the Dallas Mavericks. Most notably, his 1986-87 NBA season was probably his best, he averaged 10.8 points, 11.9 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks per game. This was the only season in his NBA career where he averaged in double-figures in points and rebounds. Lastly, he also made one NBA All-Star Game appearance in 1988.
Forward – OG Anunoby (2017-Current)
OG Anunoby is the only current NBA player on this list. The London-born player was drafted 23rd in the 2017 NBA draft by the Toronto Raptors. His best season was the 2019-20 NBA season. He averaged 10.6 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.6 assists, and 1.4 steals per game.
One of his most famous shots was against the Boston Celtics in game three of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. In that game, Anunoby hit the game-winning shot against the Celtics.
OG Moment: It was cool
— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) September 4, 2020
This is what Nick Nurse said about Anunoby’s (and Kawhi Leonard’s) defense in 2018 according to Sportsnet.
“Similar but OG just being younger, right. They got some strength, they some great anticipation, again they got some want-to, and they got some pride.”
Forward – Luol Deng (2004-19)
Luol Deng was drafted seventh overall by the Phoenix Suns. He averaged 11.7 points in the 2004-05 NBA season with the Chicago Bulls. He would make the NBA All-Star Game two consecutive times. The first one came in the 2011-12 NBA season, where he averaged 15.3 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.9 assists, and 1.0 steal per game. The following 2012-13 NBA season he averaged 16.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.0 assists, and 1.1 steals per game. He also had the best free-throw percentage in the 2012-13 NBA season, he averaged 81.6 percent.
Guard – Ben Gordon (2004-15)
Born in London, England to Jamaican parents, Ben Gordon was drafted third overall in the 2004 NBA draft by the Bulls. In his rookie 2004-05 NBA season, Gordon averaged 15.1 points, 2.6 rebounds, and 2.0 assists per game. As a result, Gordon won the NBA Sixth Man of the Year and made the NBA All-Rookie First Team in 2005. His best season was the 2006-07 NBA season, where he averaged 21.4 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 3.6 assists per game. The only other time he averaged more than 20 points per game was in the 2008-09 NBA season.
Guard – Ndudi Ebi (2003-05)
Ndudi Ebi played only 19 games in the NBA with the Minnesota Timberwolves. In the 2003-04 NBA season, he averaged 0.8 points per game. He would improve this in the 2004-05 NBA season, where he averaged 13.5 points and 8.0 rebounds per game. However, it must be said that in the 2004-05 NBA season he only played two NBA games. Therefore, the dramatic improvement does not mean much in an entire NBA season.
Center – Joel Freeland (2012-15)
Joel Freeland played three seasons with the Portland Trail Blazers. In the 2012-13 NBA season, he averaged 2.6 points and 2.3 rebounds per game. His best season was the 2014-15 NBA season, where he averaged 3.5 points and 4.0 rebounds per game.
Center – Byron Mullens (2009-14)
In the 2009-10 NBA season, Byron Mullens averaged 1.1 points per game for the Thunder. His two best seasons were with the Charlotte Bobcats (now the Charlotte Hornets). In the 2011-12 NBA season, he averaged 9.3 points and 5.0 rebounds per game. Then in the 2012-13 NBA season, he averaged 10.6 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 1.5 assists per game.
Center/Forward – John Amaechi (1995-96, 1999-03)
John Amaechi was born in Boston, Massachusetts, but was brought up in the Heaton Moor suburb of Stockport, England. He went undrafted in the 1995 NBA draft but was able to play the 1995-96 NBA season with the Cleveland Cavaliers. In his rookie 1995-96 NBA season, he averaged 2.8 points and 1.9 rebounds per game. His best season though came in the 1999-00 NBA season with the Orlando Magic. In that season he averaged 10.5 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 1.2 assists per game. These were all career-highs for Amaechi. He would tie the career-high for rebounds in the 1999-00 NBA season the Magic.
Forwards – Robert Archibald (2002-04) and Pops Mensah-Bonsu (2006-07, 2008-11)
Robert Archibald was drafted 32nd overall by the Memphis Grizzlies in the 2002 NBA draft. He is the only player NBA player to come from Scotland as all other NBA players from Great Britain are either linked or grew up in England. In the 2002-03 NBA season, he averaged 1.6 points and 1.4 rebounds per game. Then in the 2003-04 NBA season, he averaged 1.0 points and had a career-high of 1.6 rebounds per game.
Pops Mensah-Bonsu went undrafted in the 2006 NBA draft. However, he played his rookie season with the Dallas Mavericks. In that 2006-07 NBA season, he averaged 2.4 points and 1.8 rebounds per game. His best season was the 2007-08 NBA season, where he averaged 5.0 points and 5.1 rebounds per game.
Guards – Steve Bucknall (1989-90) and Chris Harris (1955-56)
The first-ever player from England to play in the NBA was Chris Harris. The Southampton-born player went undrafted in the 1955 NBA draft. His only season was in the 1955-56 NBA season with the St. Louis Hawks (now the Atlanta Hawks) and the Rochester Royals (now the Sacramento Kings). In that season, he averaged 2.5 points, 1.1 rebounds, and 1.1 assists per game.
Overview of the British Men’s Basketball All-Time Team
These were all the NBA players that came from Great Britain. All but one of the British players had at least links to England. The only British NBA player, not English was Archibald, who was brought up in Scotland.
However, there are more NBA players from Great Britain than people give credit for. Deng is most likely the greatest British player of all-time, making two NBA All-Star game appearances. Furthermore, they also had great players like Gordon and Donaldson, who spent many years in the NBA. Lastly, Anunoby looks like he will have a long career with the Raptors. He is their starting small forward and is well-known for his play on the defensive end.
Britain does not have the reputation of basketball seen in other European countries like France and Spain. While Great Britain is not a powerful force of NBA talent, it has produced several NBA players since 2000 in British men’s basketball. It should also be noted that Great Britain was competitive in the 2012 Summer Olympics. They almost defeated Spain and easily dispatched China. Both of these countries are known for their love of basketball.
Worth waiting for! GB sign off with a win. This one is for the supporters, thank you! It ends 90-58 #GameOnGB
— GB Basketball (@gbbasketball) August 6, 2012
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