Le Magnifique: The 5 best French players in NBA history

Tony Parker, Boris Diaw and Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs
Tony Parker, Boris Diaw and Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages
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No. 4: Nicolas Batum

Of the 14 French players currently playing in the NBA, Nicolas Batum is the oldest of the bunch. The 35-year-old wing was born in Lisieux, France in 1988 and starred for multiple levels of French basketball as a teenager. He entered the NBA Draft in 2008 and was selected by the Houston Rockets with the 25th-overall pick, then immediately flipped to the Portland Trail Blazers.

Batum carved out a home in Portland, stepping into the starting lineup as early as his rookie season. His smooth jumpshot and defensive chops earned him a rotation role, and he quickly became a full-time starter alongside Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge. He was a bridge into the Damian Lillard era, and was part of an elite starting group featuring Lillard, Wes Matthews, Batum, Aldridge and Robin Lopez.

In the summer of 2015 the Trail Blazers made some major changes to remake the roster, and that included trading Batum to the Charlotte Hornets in exchange for Gerald Henderson and the ninth-overall pick. He played well enough in Charlotte to earn a lucrative contract before injuries began to sap his impact.

Similar to Diaw, Batum received a career renaissance when he left the Hornets for a contender, becoming a key part of the LA Clippers' deep rotation of forwards and reaching the Western Conference Finals in 2021. He is now playing in Philadelphia in what could be his final season, although his play still warrants a place in the NBA.