Countries With the Most NBA Players

Name the countries whose territory has been the birth place of at least 10 NBA players, past or present.
Based on birthplace, not nationality
Only includes modern-day countries
Quiz by Elan
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Last updated: October 28, 2021
First submittedApril 19, 2016
Times taken38,792
Average score70.0%
Rating4.39
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#
Country
4137
United States
46
Canada
30
France
26
Germany
25
Australia
24
Serbia
18
Croatia
#
Country
18
Spain
17
Brazil
15
Argentina
13
Bosnia & Herzegovina
13
Lithuania
13
Nigeria
12
Senegal
#
Country
12
United Kingdom
11
Russia
11
Slovenia
10
Greece
10
Italy
10
Turkey
+1
Level 71
Sep 25, 2018
It's weird that Canada has been so bad in international competition given the number of NBA players they've produced. Of course, Steve Nash not suiting up for them in his day probably didn't help.
+2
Level 54
Mar 29, 2020
They probably have an inordinate number as a result of the Toronto Raptors.
+1
Level 59
Nov 15, 2021
The Raptors usually don't have an excessive amount of Canadians compared to others. Right now they have 3. An argument could be made that having a team helps promote interest in basketball but the Toronto Metro has 6 Million people and the Basketball Interest is kind of skyrocketing right now as Hockey falls out of fashion.

Before Nash, there were only really a couple of players of Note and Nash did not even go to a top College. Now it is very common to see Canadians at schools like Duke, Kentucky, or North Carolina. The majority of NBA Canadians were born in the late 90s.

+3
Level ∞
Nov 17, 2018
Why are there so many players from the former Yugoslav republics? My theory is height. People from Bosnia are among the tallest in the world, with an average height of 1 standard deviation greater than the average American. Assuming a standard distribution, this means that Bosnian men are 16x more likely than American men to reach a height of 6'7". They are 42x more likely to reach a height of 6'10".
+32
Level 75
Nov 17, 2018
It is not strange if you know basketball history of Yugoslavia and its former republics. We have long basletball tradition, since WWII and very quality basketball schools. Hight have its roll also. Yes we are among highest people in the world. For example, I am 180 cm tall and I can not be considered as very tall man in Serbia. Also Slovenia is current European champion and Serbia is vice-champion at the World Cup and Basketball Olympic Tournament.
+6
Level 81
Nov 17, 2018
Which makes me wonder why Netherlands isn't represented. Those people are tall as well!
+28
Level 75
Nov 17, 2018
Because basketball is not so popular in Netherlands.
+10
Level 75
Nov 17, 2018
Also teams like Bosna Sarajevo, Cibona Zagreb, Jugoplastika Split and Partizan Belgrade were European champions with players from Yugoslavia only.
+8
Level 85
Nov 19, 2018
I presume you got the data on height from wikipedia, which is very poor (Bosnia is basically male students in one university, which obviously is extremely flawed). Going by a study published in eLife in 2016 (10.7554/eLife.13410), there's not much difference between northwestern Europe, the Baltics and former Yugoslavia. Only the freakishly tall Dutch stand out. I'd say interest in the sport is at least as important as average height.
+4
Level ∞
Feb 4, 2019
I definitely don't trust the data 100%. But still, you'd be hard-pressed to find any university in the U.S. where male students averaged 6 feet tall. Maybe northern Wisconsin or something. :)
+4
Level 83
Feb 4, 2019
I also think that the Soviets did a lot to fuel interest in basketball in all the countries in their sphere of influence, including Yugoslavia, back before '92 when Communist countries could still beat the USA in Olympic basketball, due to the restriction on NBA players being allowed to participate.
+21
Level 74
Feb 4, 2019
Yugoslavia was not in the Soviet sphere of influence since the The Tito–Stalin Split in 1948.
+1
Level 80
Feb 25, 2019
Jeremy Hunt is that you?
+2
Level 83
Nov 12, 2021
They were less close, but still obviously within the Soviet sphere much more than they were in the American sphere, with closer cultural, diplomatic, and economic ties to Russia than to the US and NATO, at the very least compared to other nearby countries like Italy and Greece, a dynamic that persisted in Serbia even if not in some Yugoslav successor states, and lasts to this day.
+1
Level 63
Nov 12, 2021
Tito!
+3
Level 65
Feb 4, 2019
Simply put, ex-Yugoslavia is historically the heart of European basketball, even more than the former Soviet Union. Slovenia is at the top, right now, while Serbia and Croatia used to lead the way in past decades. The first truly impactful European players in NBA history came from there.
+2
Level 40
Feb 5, 2019
Dutch men are the tallest in the world (185,6 cm / 6 feet 1).

and we are shit. I don't think it's height. Serbia has ruled European basketball for some time.

It's kinda like baseball where the every european championship has been won by either the Dutch or Italians

+2
Level 58
Mar 4, 2019
Yugoslavs (especially from the southern mountainous regions) are basically the black people of the white race, athletically speaking (although I realize there are differences between different ethnic groups of black people in that regard too).

It's not easy being a scrawny man in such a country. You're not exactly any woman's first pick (speaking from personal experience). I reckon I'd be an average human in most other (non-African) countries or a giant in Asian ones :)

+2
Level 50
Oct 21, 2020
It doesn't have much to do with height, it's all popularity of the sport and tradition.
+1
Level ∞
Oct 28, 2021
Height is so incredibly important in basketball. Only about 1 in 1000 men will reach a height of 6'7" but that is the average height in the NBA. And that doesn't even really capture the full freakish extent, since the average NBA player has a wingspan that is far greater than their height.

For example, Kevin Durant has a 7'5" wingspan. Even relatively normal size players like Dwyane Wade have freakishly long wingspans.

+1
Level 61
Nov 12, 2021
Because Balkans stronk! Plenty of Balkan guards in the game too. I was watching one game with my dad where the announcer had to differentiate between the 2 Bogdanaviches in the game and say the basket was by Bogdan Bogdanavich, not the other Bogdanivich. Lol.
+8
Level 80
Nov 19, 2018
Yugoslavia doesn't stand out much in height compared to the rest of Europe except south. Interest/tradition/training quality is much more important than height (like speed skating in the Netherlands, Lithuania is also a similar "anomaly" in basketball). At some point half of the Euroleague coaches were ex-YU.
+3
Level 75
Jan 10, 2019
I love how Kyrie must count for Australia in this quiz
+2
Level 83
Feb 4, 2019
Got everything except Senegal.
+2
Level 73
Feb 4, 2019
Basketball is so popular here in China, but they suck pretty badly at all team sports. Still pretty surprised that they didn't even manage to make the list though.
+1
Level 69
Feb 4, 2019
Yao, Yi, and ... ?
+2
Level 44
Feb 6, 2019
7 chinese players in history, they will be on the list soon enough :)
+1
Level 50
Oct 21, 2020
I'm pretty sure Yao was the result of government experiments.
+1
Level 65
Feb 4, 2019
Missed Bosnia and Lithuania. Should have remembered what I heard of Lithuanian basketball, but Bosnia is a surprise
+6
Level 35
Mar 21, 2019
It is because Serbs and Croats can be born in Bosnia but Will never play for BiH because they are not ethnically Bosniaks. Only muslims play for Bosnia. Christians born in Bosnia have dual citizenship of Croatia or Serbia.

For example Bojan Bogdanović is born in Bosnia but if you ask him je Will tell you he is Croatian.

+1
Level 63
Nov 6, 2019
Interesting! I never knew that
+1
Level 65
Feb 4, 2019
Montenegrins are the tallest among the Balkans, but they're on listed. In Lithuania, Basketball is most popular sport, so it's surprising it doesn't have more players.
+1
Level 80
Oct 28, 2021
Montenegro is small though
+1
Level 28
Feb 4, 2019
Is Greece not here because 4 of them weren't born in Greece? I think Greece should be included because it should be by what country does the player represent.
+2
Level 80
Feb 25, 2019
That's not the criterion chosen for this quiz. It's also the simplest as many players have more than one citizenship, or change it, or never played for the national team.
+1
Level 21
Feb 4, 2019
No Netherlands?
+1
Level 65
Feb 4, 2019
They're too nerdy, in a good way
+2
Level 40
Feb 5, 2019
There have been 6:

-Hank Beenders (1945-1950) Celtics

-Swen Nater (1973-1985) Bucks/Clippers/Lakers

-Geert Hammink (1993-2004) Magic/Racers/Warriors

-Rik Smits "The dunking dutchman" (1988-2000) (1998 All-Star) Indiana Pacers

-Francisco Elson (1999-2013) Nuggets/Spurs/SuperSonics/Bucks/76ers/Jazz

-Dan Gadzuric (2002-2015) Bucks/Warriors/Nets

Lot more college players though.

+1
Level 47
Aug 6, 2019
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+1
Level 84
Nov 19, 2020
Nice picture and great quiz! :)
+4
Level 55
Dec 9, 2020
Usa is lucky Yugoslavia doesn't have a national team anymore
+3
Level ∞
Oct 28, 2021
Considering that our college players used to beat them consistently, I don't think we'd have to worry too much.
+1
Level 80
Oct 28, 2021
It's not so simple, in either direction. Yugoslavia was 3 times world champion, but US didn't send the best players and Dream Team went to the Olympics too late for a direct comparison. There are only 5 players in the field in any case. But Yugoslavia was on the rise, also with knowledge and experience from the US, and the best generation started developing just before the breakup. Plus they'd have a lot more NBA experience these days.
+1
Level 78
Nov 12, 2021
US team was beating Yugoslavia at the Olympics in the 1960s and 1970s, as well as in the 1996 final match (that was after the breakup of Yugoslavia, so the team consisted only of Serbian and Montenegrin players. 14 minutes before the end of the game, the result was 51-50. That's when Divac got fouled out, and with Euroleague MVP Savic already injured, Yugoslavia had no more players at the center position, so the game ended 95-69). Anyway, you really can't compare today's basketball and the sport from 50 years ago. On the other hand, in the last 20 years Serbia alone won twice in the five matches against All-Star players filled US teams (once in an elimination game), and once had a last second shot to tie the game. This year, former Yugoslavia had two first team All-NBA players in Jokic and Doncic, along with another All Star in Vucevic. All in all, I am pretty sure US Team wouldn't have an easy job in those games, to say the least. Unfortunately, we'll never know.
+3
Level ∞
Oct 28, 2021
Greece could field a national team with the five Antetokounmpo brothers (3 of whom have played in the NBA so far).
+1
Level 69
Nov 12, 2021
Was typing Senegal as time ran out, that wouldve gotten me 100%
+1
Level 47
Nov 12, 2021
Fantastic quiz. And super hard to cheat by looking things up, at least on the first attempt.
+2
Level 65
Nov 12, 2021
USA #1! Nobody else comes close baby!
+1
Level 37
Nov 17, 2021
Only missed the African countries