Top 12 Best NBA Players from North Carolina

Happily the state of North Carolina is home to 12 NBA players! 

This list features some of the best NBA players ever to come out of North Carolina. Of course, not every NBA player on the list has had an illustrious career, but they’ve got several awards between them. 

It may surprise you that many of the NBA players from North Carolina have hailed the hall of fame. Additionally, one can’t ignore the fact that in recent years, North Carolina has produced some sweet talent in the form of young guns like Harrison Barnes. 

So without further ado, here are the top 12 NBA players from North Carolina...

Top 12 Best NBA Players From North Carolina

1. Michael Jordan (Raleigh)

Of course. How can you not talk about North Carolina without mentioning their most famous and prolific NBA player? Of course, we’re talking about the man who gave NBA sports Chicago its name: Michael Jordan. See that was an NCAA reference. 

Michael Jordan is also responsible for popularizing the NBA apparel brand with his iconic line of shoes nicknamed air jordans. There’s even a Jordan shoe nicknamed the “Georgetown Hoya 11” because Georgetown lost to Michael Jordan and North Carolina in the 1982 NCAA Championship.

2. Vince Carter (Eden)

When it comes to NCAA basketball, the University of North Carolina has produced some of the best talents in history. However, when it comes to the NBA, North Carolina isn’t quite as illustrious. 

The NBA North Carolina players list, for instance, features NBA players like Vince Carter, who also played at UNC. Although Vince Carter is one of the best NBA players, he only spent one season in college before being drafted by the Golden State Warriors with the 5th overall pick in 1998.

nba players from north carolina

3. Dell Curry (Rocky River)

Dell Curry was fortunate enough to play alongside his son Stephen during his time at UNC. His other son, Seth Curry, was a shooting guard for Duke basketball. 

Dell Curry has made a name for himself playing professional NBA ball since 1986. This is when he was selected by the Charlotte Hornets with the 15 overall pick in the NBA draft. 

North Carolina basketball fans will likely recognize Curry who has played for the Hornets, Pelicans, Raptors, Bobcats, and Kings. NBA hall of fame Dell Curry is one of the best shooters in NBA history, having hit over 40% of his 3 point shots.

4. Kenny Smith (Lilburn)

Although he was born in Queens, Kenny Smith grew up in Lilburn, where he attended Wesleyan High School. 

During his time there, Smith earned several accolades. This includes being named Gwinnett county player of the year, helping lead Wesleyan to a state championship title in 1984, and being listed on the McDonald’s all-American team. 

Fans will remember Kenny Smith for his time spent with NBC Sports Chicago, who drafted him in the first round of the 1987 NBA draft. Although he was selected by NBC Sports Chicago, Smith debuted with the Houston Rockets. Where he proved to be a great player and valuable asset alongside teammate Hakeem Olajuwon.

5. David Wingate (Goldsboro)

During his time at NCAA basketball, David Wingate played for James Madison University. Where he helped lead the dukes to two conferences titles and an NCAA tournament appearance. Later on, Wingate was selected 7th overall in the 1990 NBA draft by the Washington Wizards. 

However, it wasn’t long before NBA fans knew about Wingate. He played for several different NBA teams including the San Antonio Spurs, the New Jersey Nets, and the Utah Jazz.

6. George Gervin (Uxbridge)

It’s no wonder fans know so much about Michael Jordan. This is when he has one of the greatest NBA players ever with George Gervin in his corner. Known by many monikers including iceman, Gervin helped lead Wichita State University to back-to-back conference titles in 1970 and 1971 while leading his team in scoring each season. 

Later on, fans knew about Gervin who was drafted by the San Antonio Spurs with the 40th pick in the 1974 NBA draft. Little did they know at the time, but Gervin would become one of the most prolific scorers in NBA history.

7. Tim Duncan (St. Croix)

Tim Duncan is another player whose name will be mentioned amongst basketball historians for decades to come. 

During his time at Wake Forest University, Duncan helped lead wake forest to two final four NCAA tournament appearances. 

Although he was originally selected with the first overall pick in 1997 by the Golden State Warriors. His fans know that Duncan spent his entire basketball career with the San Antonio Spurs. 

During his time there, Duncan was able to accumulate countless accolades. This includes being named league MVP five times, Rookie of the year, and being selected to 15 all-star games.

8. Chris Paul (Winston-Salem)

During his time at Wake Forest University, Chris Paul helped lead wake forest basketball to its first NCAA tournament appearance. Since 1962 where they made it to the sweet 16. 

Later on, Chris Paul went on to be drafted by the New Orleans Hornets with their 4th overall pick in 2005. Making him the highest draft pick in Wake Forest History. 

People will know Chris Paul for his time spent with the Pelicans. He has also had great seasons with the Phoenix Suns, including breaking the regular season record for number of team victories. 

Paul has been selected 8 times to all-star games, earned 6 all-NBA selections, and was named league MVP twice. While also winning a gold medal at the 2012 London Olympics.

nba players from north carolina

9. Billy Cunningham (Brooklyn)

Although Billy Cunningham grew up playing basketball in Brooklyn, he later went on to attend North Carolina college. This is where he helped lead them to a national championship title in 1957. 

Later on, Cunningham was selected in the first round of the 1965 NBA draft by the Philadelphia 76ers. During his time there, he averaged over 22 ppg while also earning 6 all NBA selections and 4 all-star game appearances. 

To this day, Billy Cunningham still ranks among the NCAA top ten for most points scored (2,262), most field goals made (1,043), and most rebounds (1,750). 

If that wasn’t enough to convince you that he was one of the best players ever to play basketball, then it should be noted that Cunningham helped lead Philly to their only championship title in 1967.

10. Bob McAdoo (New York)

It should come as no surprise to basketball fans that Bob McAdoo was a two-time college player of the year. 

Also, he was a fifth overall draft pick in 1972 by the Buffalo Braves. During his time with the Buffalo Braves, he averaged nearly 24 points per game while also earning 3 all-star appearances and 2 all NBA selections. 

After being traded to New York Nets, McAdoo truly began to flourish leading them in scoring for three consecutive seasons. While also earning 5 straight all-star appearances from 1975-1979. 

Then he went to the Lakers. During his tenure with the Los Angeles Lakers, he earned a career-high 31.1 points per game. This was followed by 5 consecutive all-star game appearances.

11. James Worthy (Asheville)

If you were to ask basketball fans who the best player in college basketball was during the early 80s, most would say James Worthy. Although he played for the University of North Carolina, Worthy was able to achieve all-American status. Then he led them to a national championship in 1982. 

Later on, Worthy was drafted with the first overall pick by the Los Angeles Lakers in 1982. Worthy helped lead the Lakers to 3 championships titles in his 12-year career. 

In those years, Worthy was also selected to 7 all-star games, earned 3 all NBA selections, and was named MVP of the 1992 NBA Finals.

12. Rasheed Wallace (North Carolina)

Although Rasheed was born in Philadelphia, he later moved to Massachusetts when he was only two years old. Soon after his family moved to Gaithersburg, Maryland where he showed an interest in basketball at an early age. 

Later on, Wallace attended the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill where he left as the school’s all-time leader in rebounds and blocks. While also going on to be selected with the fourth overall pick by the Detroit Pistons. 

During his tenure with the Pistons, Wallace averaged nearly 20 points per game while earning all NBA selections and had 4 all-star game appearances.

Final Thoughts

If there’s one thing that you should have learned from this list of the best NBA players from North Carolina is that they’re very hard to beat on the court — but might be gentle as clouds off of it.

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