France has produced a handful of prominent NBA players in the past. Players like Tony Parker, Joakim Noah, Boris Diaw, Mikael Pietrus, Ronny Turiaf, and Tariq Abdul-Wahad were French citizens.
During the 2019-20 season, there were a total of right French players on the league’s opening day roster. In 2016, France set a record with a total of five players picked in the NBA draft. That record was broken by Canada in 2019 but still, France has a good representation in the top basketball league in the world.
Here are the current French basketball players in the NBA:
Gobert was drafted 27th overall by the Denver Nuggets but was traded on draft night to the Utah Jazz. He was dubbed as the Stifle Tower during the NBA Draft Combine because he had a wingspan of 7-8 ½ and a standing reach of 9-7 which stifled opposing teams. Gobert is now one of the best defensive players in the league, having won the Defensive Player of the Year in 2018 and 2019. Gobert has also made it to two All-NBA teams and he was selected to play in his first All-Star game in 2020.
Fournier was selected 20th overall in the 2012 draft by the Denver Nuggets. He saw limited action during his rookie year, playing in only 38 games for Denver. He continued to struggle to get consistent minutes with the Nuggets and in 2014, he was traded to the Orlando Magic where his career has since taken off. He’s averaged 16.0 points per game while shooting 37.6% in his six seasons with the Magic including a career-high 18.8 points per game during the 2019-20 season.
He was traded to Portland where he was immediately inserted as a starter in his fourth NBA game. Batum was a fixture for the Blazers from 2008 until 2015 when he was traded to the Charlotte Hornets. He has suffered several injuries which have cost him a lot of games in the last five seasons and his numbers have dropped. He played in just 22 games last season and averaged only 3.6 points and 4.5 rebounds per game.
He was selected 28th overall in 2005 by the San Antonio Spurs and was considered a project. Mahinmi played for the Spurs’ affiliate Austin Toros in the Developmental League and he helped the team make the finals in 2008. Mahinmi was an All-Star and All-D League First team that season. He finally made his NBA debut for the Dallas Mavericks in 2010. He has been playing for the Washington Wizards since 2016.
In 2017, he finally included his name in the NBA Draft and he was picked 8th overall by the New York Knicks. Ntilikina was the second-youngest active player during his rookie season and his struggles adjusting to the NBA game. After a strong outing at the 2019 FIBA World Cup for France, he earned a starting job with the Knicks but after he struggled to make his shots, he was relegated to a bench role again.
Sekou Doumbaya was born in Guinea but his family moved to France when he was one-year-old. Like many French kids, he grew up playing football until he became too tall. At the age of 14, he moved to the French sports institute INSEP in Paris to hone his skills. He played for Nationale Masculine 1 in the third tier of French basketball. One year later, he signed a professional contract for Poitiers Basket 86 and then Limoges CSP in 2019.
Doumbouya was drafted 15th overall by the Detroit Pistons in the 2019 but was assigned to the team’s G-League affiliate Grand Rapids Drive but later found his way to the team’s main roster. He plays small forward but because he is 6-8 he can play the power forward position. He is a very athletic player who is an excellent finisher on the break. Doumbouya earned his French citizenship in 2016.
Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot was born in Cannes. He started playing for the Antibes Sharks and he led the team to a win in the LNB Pro B Leaders Cup in 2014. After deciding not to enter the NBA Draft in 2015, he played in Serbia for Mega Leks where he earned All-First Team honors.
He declared for the 2016 NBA Draft and was selected 24th overall by the Philadelphia 76ers. He played in the 2016 Summer League and had multiple assignments with the Delaware 87ers in the G League during his rookie year. In 2018, he was traded to the Thunder, and the following year, he was moved to the Chicago Bulls. He currently plays for the Brooklyn Nets after signing a multi-year deal with the team in 2019.
Elie Okobo was born in Bordeaux, France. At the age of 16, he played for France’s third tier league with the Nationale Masculine 1 team. From 2015-18, Okobo played for Elan Bearnais of the LNB Pro A, the top tier league in France. He became an All-Star in 2018 and finished as runner-up to Frank Ntilikina in the LNB Pro A Best Young Player Award.
He entered the 2018 NBA Draft and was taken 31st overall by the Phoenix Suns. He’s had multiple assignments with the Northern Arizona Suns but has also played good minutes for the Suns’ main team in the NBA. At 6-3, he plays a combo guard and has the athleticism to become a solid NBA player if given enough minutes.
Born in Clamart, France, Vincent Poirier played for the Buss Basket Club in France and was the best rebounder of the Espoirs Championship in 2014. He signed with Paris-Levallois but was loaned to Hyeres-Toulon of Pro B.
Poirier applied for the 2015 NBA Draft but was undrafted. He joined the Orlando Magic’s Summer League team. In 2017, he signed with Baskonia in the Liga ACB and the Euroleague. After he was named to the All-Euroleague team in 2019, he signed with the Boston Celtics.
Adam Mokoka was born in Paris and started his youth career with BCM Gravelines-Dunkerque. In 2015, he was promoted to the main roster and played for the top flight in 2016. He withdrew his application for the 2018 NBA Draft and played for Serbia’s Mega Bemax.
Mokoka was undrafted in 2019 but he found his way to the Chicago Bulls who signed him to a two-way contract. The 6-5 guard is a good shooter and during the 2019-20 season, he played in a total of 11 games while averaging 2.9 points per game.