6 Mexican NBA Players Who Made an Impact on the Court


Basketball and Mexico might not be the first duo that comes to mind when thinking about the NBA, but guess what? Mexico has produced some pretty remarkable players who have made their mark on the court.

Let’s take a look at these ballers who’ve managed to break into the NBA and left a good impression. Here are six Mexican NBA players who’ve made a significant impact on the basketball court.

1. Jaime Jaquez Jr.

Mexican NBA players

Jaquez attended Camarillo High School in California, where he honed his skills and developed into a top-tier player. His hard work and talent earned him a spot at UCLA, one of the most prestigious basketball programs in the country. From 2019 to 2023, he played for the Bruins and left quite an impression.

College Achievements

  • Four-year starter at UCLA
  • Key player in leading UCLA to multiple deep runs in the NCAA Tournament
  • Known for his defensive prowess, scoring ability, and leadership on and off the court

The Miami Heat saw something special in Jaquez and picked him 18th overall in the 2023 NBA Draft.

  • Team: Miami Heat

Jaquez is known for his versatility. He can play both the small forward and shooting guard positions, making him a valuable asset on any team.

His defense is top-notch, and he’s not afraid to get physical. Offensively, he’s got a solid jump shot, can drive to the basket, and has a knack for clutch plays.

2. Gustavo Ayón

Impactful Mexican NBA stars

First up is Gustavo Ayón, the guy who decided he didn’t need to stick around in the NBA for long to show he had the chops.

  • Teams: New Orleans Hornets, Orlando Magic, Milwaukee Bucks, Atlanta Hawks
  • Stats: Averaged 4.7 points, 4.4 rebounds

Ayón played just three seasons in the NBA before bouncing to Europe, where he became a star with Real Madrid. His hustle and solid defensive skills got him respect, even if he wasn’t exactly lighting up the scoreboard. Ayón’s stint in the NBA might have been short, but it sure was sweet.

3. Eduardo Nájera

Mexican basketball players in NBA

Eduardo Nájera is practically the grandfather of Mexican NBA players. The guy’s toughness and work ethic were something else. He wasn’t the most talented player, but he sure was one of the hardest working.

  • Teams: Dallas Mavericks, Golden State Warriors, Denver Nuggets, New Jersey Nets, Charlotte Bobcats
  • Stats: Averaged 4.9 points, 3.7 rebounds

Nájera’s role was mostly as a defensive specialist and an enforcer. He knew his role and played it to perfection. Nájera even transitioned into coaching and front-office roles after his playing days, proving he’s not just brawn but brains too.

4. Horacio Llamas

Horacio Llamas has the distinction of being the first Mexican-born player to make it to the NBA.

  • Teams: Phoenix Suns
  • Stats: Averaged 2.1 points, 1.3 rebounds

Llamas’ time in the NBA was brief, to put it kindly. But hey, someone’s got to break the barrier, and he did just that. He paved the way for other Mexican players to dream of making it to the big league. And for that, we give him props.

5. Jorge Gutiérrez

Notable Mexican NBA players

Jorge Gutiérrez might not be a household name, but the man has hustle.

  • Teams: Brooklyn Nets, Milwaukee Bucks, Charlotte Hornets
  • Stats: Averaged 2.9 points, 1.1 rebounds

Gutiérrez was known for his gritty play and defensive tenacity. His journey to the NBA was a hard-fought one, through the D-League and international play. Gutiérrez’s work ethic and persistence are what got him those NBA contracts, even if they were short-lived.

6. Manuel Raga

Manuel Raga might be the most successful Mexican player you’ve never heard of.

  • Teams: None (Drafted by Atlanta Hawks, 1970, but never played)

Raga played in Europe during the 1970s and is considered one of the greatest players of his era. He never played in the NBA due to contract issues with his European team, but his influence on the game is significant. Sometimes, success isn’t about the NBA; it’s about dominating wherever you play.

Honorable Mentions

Okay, so not all Mexican players have had the chance to shine in the NBA, but they’ve still made waves. Here are a few who almost made the list:

  • Sergio Valdeolmillos: A successful coach, proving you don’t have to be a player to influence the game.
  • Paul Stoll: A standout player in international circuits, known for his scoring ability.
  • Alex Perez: Another international player making his mark outside the NBA.

Final Words

Mexican players in the NBA might not be headliners like LeBron or Curry, but they’ve carved out their niches through hard work, grit, and determination.  Whether it’s the pioneering spirit of Horacio Llamas, the tough-nosed play of Eduardo Nájera, or the inspiring hustle of Jorge Gutiérrez, each of these players has left a mark.

And who knows? Maybe the next big NBA star will come from Mexico, ready to take the league by storm. Also, check our list of the best NBA players from Massachusetts.