The Toronto Raptors used the No. 33 pick in the NBA Draft on Cameroonian-born center Christian Koloko. With Masai Ujiri as dedicated to growing the game of basketball in Africa as anyone and Pascal Siakam in place as the team’s star, African talent is making up the bedrock of this organization.
Only 74 players who have even played one NBA game have been born in Africa, yet a handful of them have taken their talents up north. Considering how successful the franchise has been in the last decade, it’s fair to say that Ujiri’s organizational philosophy is working.
Koloko is going to be the next African standout in the pipeline as he tries to smooth out his game and eventually mold himself into a player Toronto can count on. He’ll have to follow in the footsteps of some current starters and past contributors.
These three studs currently stand out as the best African-born players the Raptors have ever had on their roster. It will take a lot for Koloko to surpass one of them eventually, but it wouldn’t be impossible for him to put his name in this very select club sooner rather than later.
Top 3 African-born players in Toronto Raptors history.
3. Precious Achiuwa
Even after just one season in Toronto, and a season that featured a very slow start, Achiuwa has become one of the organization’s most prized assets. Born in Port Harcourt, Achiuwa went from an intriguing developmental piece to a mainstay of their rotation.
Achiuwa averaged 12.2 points per game after the All-Star break last season, as his resurgence was keyed by an improved 3-point shot that he uncorked more regularly. Achiuwa was cast away by a Miami team that was seeking a better short-term upgrade, but he’s found a home in Toronto.
Precious Achiuwa has been a rock for the Toronto Raptors.
The extraordinary defensive package he brings to the table will make Achiuwa an even more beloved fan favorite and someone that Nick Nurse can count on in the next few years. With wing-like athletic ability and the muscle of a true center, Achiuwa can already lock down some of the best in the game.
It took a lot for Precious to beat out Bismack Biyombo’s impressive season with Toronto, but Achiuwa’s long-term potential will help him become one of the best power forwards in team history should the Raptors continue to bring him back. Achiuwa is some improved finishing away from becoming a true game-changer.