Top 5 Hispanic Players to Watch During the 2014/15 NBA Season
The NBA is one of the more diverse professional sports leagues in the world. Over the last few years, the influx of Hispanic/Latin players has added to the leagues diversity. It’s also given the league a huge marketing advantage, it’s made their audience grow, it’s boosted merchandise sales and it’s created new advertising campaigns.
Voxxi compiled a list of the top five Latino players to watch for during the upcoming 2014-2015 NBA season.
#5. Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol
Although he hasn’t achieved the success of his older brother Pau, the 29-year-old Spaniard has started to carve out his own legacy in the league. His physical style of play, his brute force in the paint, and his toughness are a big reason why the Grizzlies have made the playoffs four out of the previous five seasons.
You can also throw in his two Olympic silver medals (2008 and 2012), his FIBA World Championship gold medal (2006), and his four European titles (2007, 2009, 2011 and 2013). With career averages of 14 points and 7.5 rebounds per game, Gasol will always be a force to be reckoned with.
4. Minnesota Timberwolves guard Ricky Rubio
This native of Spain is still looking for his breakout season. The Wolves have not been to the playoffs in over a decade, but many feel that Rubio could be the key to get them back into the postseason. Whether or not Kevin Love is still in a T’Wolves uniform when the season starts (he’s been the subject of trade rumors recently), Rubio will still be relied upon for leadership.
So far he’s proven that he can dish out the assists (8.6 per game), and he can play a little defense (2.3 steals per game), but he’ll need to score a few more points to get his team over the hump (averages 10 points per game). He’ll definitely need to increase his scoring output if Love is indeed traded.
At the end of the day however, Rubio is still an exciting player to watch. Hopefully he’ll get some addition talent around him that will help him realize his full potential.
3. Atlanta Hawks center Al Horford
This Dominican-born big man has been one of the more consistent players in the NBA today. Last season Horford suffered a season-ending injury (torn pectoral muscle), but before the injury he was the main reason why the Hawks made seven consecutive postseason appearances (2008-2014).
He doesn’t need to be flashy or overly physical to outperform his opponents. Horford is simply consistent, efficient, and fundamentally sound. When the new season begins in October, Horford should not only be fully healthy, but perhaps he can increase last seasons averages (pre-injury) of 18 points and eight rebounds per contest.
2. New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony
For those who may be wondering, yes Anthony is Latino, he’s Puerto Rican on his father’s side. And for those in Chicago and Los Angeles who may feel some anger towards Carmelo, I feel your pain. But let’s face it, the Syracuse alum is one of the best players in the league even though he doesn’t have a championship to show for it.
He does however have quite a bit of success as a member of the U.S. National Team. Three Olympic medals (Gold in 2008 and 2012, bronze in 2004), a bronze medal at the 2006 FIBA World Championship, and he won the gold while playing in the 2007 FIBA Americas Championship.
On top of that, Anthony is one of the more prolific scorers in the league today. He averages close to 30 points per game, has a .400 career three-point shooting percentage, and is one of the few players who can go toe-to-toe with both Lebron James and Kobe Bryant.
The Bulls and Lakers may forever wonder how ‘Melo could have gotten their teams back to the promised land. And Melo may now wonder if he’ll ever win an NBA title. But what we know for sure is that he’s already one of the NBA’s elite.
1. Chicago Bulls forward/center Pau Gasol
Marc’s older brother is probably the most successful man on this list, and here’s why……. Two league titles (2009 and 2010), two Olympic silver medals (2008 and 2012), a FIBA World Championship (2006) and five EuroBasket titles (2001, 2003, 2007, 2009 and 2011).
His versatility and flexibility is why he was drafted to the NBA from Spain 13 years ago. Since then, Gasol has been rookie of the year (2001), an Olympian, a four-time NBA All-Star, and an All-NBA selection, need I say more? The Bulls may not have gotten Carmelo Anthony but they’re still getting a player who’s in his prime and will help them succeed for the foreseeable future.
These five men will continue the excellence of Hispanics at the sports highest level.
Click here from original article from Voxxi.