Another year, another record set for Canadians in the NBA.
Canada set a new mark with 27 players on an NBA roster for the beginning of the 2023-24 campaign. It’s the 10th straight season Canada has been the most represented country in the league outside the United States.
The 27 represents a four-player increase from the start of last season.
“We know that NBA players drive interest in their home countries and region,” deputy commissioner Mark Tatum said on a Zoom call last week. “Last year, we saw viewership in Canada grow some 13 per cent … largely in part because of the level of talent that we’re seeing in Canada.”
The list is headlined by first-team all-NBA guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander of the Oklahoma City Thunder, guard Jamal Murray of the defending champion Denver Nuggets and all-star forward Andrew Wiggins of the 2022 champion Golden State Warriors.
Gilgeous-Alexander was among the athletes who helped further drive interest to the Canadian basketball scene in the summer. Canada had seven NBA players on its 12-man roster for the FIBA World Cup, led by Gilgeous-Alexander and Dillon Brooks of the Houston Rockets.
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Canada defeated the U.S. in the bronze-medal game at the World Cup in September, its first-ever medal and first time defeating the Americans at the competition. The tournament bumped Canada from 15th to sixth in the world rankings.
Gilgeous-Alexander, from Hamilton, was named a tournament all-star with averages of 24.5 points, 6.4 rebounds, 6.4 assists, and 1.6 steals per game. Brooks, meanwhile, set a Canadian single-game scoring record for most points in a World Cup with 39 in the medal game.
“It was a terrific competition for Team Canada, the best performance that they’ve ever had,” Tatum said. “At one point I was there during the U.S.-Canada game and there were 10 NBA players out on the court.
“No country outside the United States has more players than Canada does. To see them out on the court, with SGA, RJ Barrett, Dwight Powell, Lu Dort — what a great team, and a great representation of the country and to bring home their first medal was really, really terrific.”
Two Canadians were drafted in June — Olivier-Maxence Prosper by Dallas in the first round and Leonard Miller by the San Antonio Spurs in the second round before being moved to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The list also includes budding young stars Bennedict Mathurin of the Indiana Pacers and Shaedon Sharpe of the Portland Trail Blazers, who were drafted with back-to-back picks early in the first round back in 2022.
The Toronto Raptors have one Canadian on their roster in Montreal’s Chris Boucher.
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