Now that the 2015-16 NBA season is done and dusted, SuperSport.com looks back at how some of the top African players – first and second generation – did, and how much of an impact they made throughout the season, both regular and postseason.
In no particular order, here are our Top-5 African players of the season.
1. Bismack Biyombo (Toronto Raptors)
The DR Congo native made the most of the absence of the injured Jonas Valanciunas with impressive contributions in the second round of the playoffs.
The 6-foot-9 centre not only finished his fifth year in the league with regular-season haul of 5.5 points per game and 8 rebounds per game, but he also excelled in the postseason averaging playoff highs 6.2 PPG, a staggering 9.4 boards and 1.4 blocked shots.
At some point in the second round of the postseason, Biyombo was dominant in Games 3 and 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
As the Raptors tied the series at two games apiece, Biyombo amassed an incredible 40 rebounds while also contributing 12 points, 7 blocks, and 2 assists and committing just two turnovers.
2. Al-Farouq Aminu (Portland Trail Blazers)
Six years on and the Nigerian-American seems to have reached the pinnacle of his NBA career. The 6-foot-9 small forward played and started all 82 games in his first season with Portland, averaging a career-high 10.2 points (41.6 percent field goal, 36 percent from behind the arc), 6.1 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 28.5 minutes (a career high).
The 25-year-old scored in double figures 47 times, including a career-high five consecutive games from 30 October to 5 November.
Aminu, who is expected to represent Nigeria at the 2016 Rio Olympics, set a career-high with 28 points on 11-of-19 shoots taken (6 of 11 from three-point range) against the Boston Celtics. He also made three or more three-pointers in 15 games this season, also a career high.
As well as recording eight double-doubles during the regular season, Aminu averaged 14.6 points and 8.5 rebounds in 11 games during the postseason.
3. Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks)
Although the Bucks (33-49) missed out the playoffs race, the Greek-Nigerian is an emerging NBA star after averaging 16.9 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 4.3 assists in his third season. The 21-year-old started games at small forward and shooting guard before finishing the season as the point guard.
He has one of the most impressive rises after the All-Star weekend and turned heads with his performances. Much will be expected of him next season as he continues to improve his game. One thing’s for sure, Jason Kidd will turn to ‘The Greek Freak’ more next term as he targets a playoff spot.
4. Dennis Schroder (Atlanta Hawks)
The German-Gambian point guard Schroder has never hidden his intentions of becoming a starting point guard. Following his impressive numbers in the postseason, in which he had more success than starter Jeff Teague against the Cleveland Cavaliers – he finished with a 27-point outing in Game 1 and a 21-point showing in Game 4 – with 13 of those points coming in the fourth quarter.
In 80 regular season games, the 21-year-old guard averaged career-highs 11 points and 4.4 assists. He’s still very young and will be keen to showcase his skills more in the next campaign.
5. Serge Ibaka (Oklahoma City Thunder)
Once a specialist defender, Ibaka of the Republic of Congo, has now become a lethal scorer.
Despite seeing his regular-season scoring numbers drop from 14.3 (2014-16) to 12.6 this past season, and his rebounding falling from 7.8 to 6.8, the 26-year-old was closer to his best in the playoffs as the Thunder upset the San Antonio Spurs in the second round of the playoffs and were one victory away from eliminating a then 73-win Golden State Warriors from advancing to the NBA Finals.
Ibaka will be more than eager to get back to his dominant best and help his team get their hands on the title sooner rather than later.