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Canadians in the NBA: Stars making push for Paris Olympics

Canadian basketball is in a fantastic position right now, with the men’s team impressing at the FIBA World Cup earlier this year and securing a spot in the 2024 Paris Olympics in the process.

The men’s team tied down 14 players in 2022 who committed to showing up every summer through to the 2024 Olympics. There were 11 NBA players among that group, but the league now has 27 players from north of the border, with a few recent arrivals on track to be stars of tomorrow.

While there’s a long way to go until the Paris Olympics, it’s worth looking at the standout names who will carry Canada’s hopes in France. On top of that, there are a couple of sophomore talents who could force their way into the roster come summertime. 

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander - G, Oklahoma City Thunder

2023/24 Season Averages

Points per game30.4
Rebounds per game6.1
Assists per game6.2
Steals per game2.3
Field goal percentage53.4
Free throw percentage93.7

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had a fantastic time at the FIBA World Cup, following up his All-NBA honors in the 2022/23 campaign by cementing his status as a star in international play. 

The guard has continued in that vein in this campaign, which has him priced at +1400 to win MVP, making him the sixth favorite for the award. He’s the shortest-priced Canadian by some distance.

The Oklahoma City Thunder guard has helped his side to second place in the Western Conference standings, with an 11-5 record. His shooting continues to impress, as he’s only a small improvement away from a possible 90-50-40 season.

Jamal Murray - G, Denver Nuggets

2023/24 Season Averages

Points per game16.3
Rebounds per game2.6
Assists per game7.4
Field goal percentage43.0
Three-point percentage43.0
Free throw percentage84.2

Jamal Murray’s progress since winning the NBA Championship this year has been hampered by injury, and fatigue forced him to miss the summer's FIBA World Cup. He has played in seven of the Nuggets' 17 games so far.

Canada would have been an even more fearsome offense with two of the NBA’s best guards running the show. 

The Denver Nuggets point guard is currently sidelined but Canadian fans hope he makes a return to the floor soon.

Dillon Brooks - F, Houston Rockets

2023/24 Season Averages

Points per game13.4
Rebounds per game3.8
Assists per game1.9
Field goal percentage47.1
Three-point percentage46.4
Free throw percentage85.7

Dillon Brooks is a controversial figure, with his antics leading to the Memphis Grizzlies refusing to offer him a new deal this summer. 

As a free agent, he signed with the Houston Rockets before putting in some stellar displays for Canada at the World Cup. 

Brooks has impressed in Houston with his three-point shooting and he’s a fantastic defender, so he’ll be a vital cog for a Canadian side which could use more physical presence on the defensive end. Love or hate his antics, he always takes at least some pressure off his team's stars.

Andrew Wiggins - F, Golden State Warriors

2023/24 Season Averages

Points per game11.8
Rebounds per game4.1
Assists per game1.1
Steals per game0.4
Field goal percentage41.7
Free throw percentage56.3

Andrew Wiggins didn’t sign up to the three-year national team commitment in 2022. However, he won a championship shortly after that. 

The forward was the top pick in the 2014 draft, but he’s more at home as a support option on a good team. Wiggins’ spell on the Warriors shows he’s the perfect foil for a backcourt of SGA and Murray.

With Steph Curry on his side, it's possible he could win a second ring. But the Warriors are 10th in the West through 17 games and some of Wiggins' stats - career low averages in minutes, points, steals, assists, free throw percentage, and three-point percentage - reflect that.

RJ Barrett - G, New York Knicks

2023/24 Season Averages

Points per game20.5
Rebounds per game4.1
Assists per game2.7
Field goal percentage44.6
Three-point percentage44.6
Free throw percentage83.7

RJ Barrett adds a real punch to the Knicks’ offense and he’s an excellent bench scorer for Canada. 

While he’s got a lot of competition among Canadian wings, he’s a reliable international player who is currently impressing in one of the league’s biggest markets.

Through 11 games in 2023/24, Barrett's shooting percentages - from the field, three-point range, and the free throw line - are all career highs.

Bennedict Mathurin - F, Indiana Pacers

2023/24 Season Averages

Points per game13.0
Rebounds per game3.7
Assists per game2.1
Field goal percentage43.6
Three-point percentage34.0
Free throw percentage78.6

Bennedict Mathurin was the sixth pick in the 2022 draft and he was named in the All-Rookie first team in 2023. 

He’s forced his way into the Pacers starting lineup, but his brilliant bench scoring last term shows his fit in the international setup.

Shaedon Sharpe - G, Portland Trail Blazers

2023/24 Season Averages

Points per game16.9
Rebounds per game5.3
Assists per game3.1
Field goal percentage39.9
Three-point percentage31.9
Free throw percentage82.4

Shaedon Sharpe went one spot lower than Mathurin in the 2022 draft, landing at the now-rebuilding Blazers. That should give him plenty of room to grow ahead of the Olympics. 

He’s moved into a starting role this season and he’s making the most of that opportunity so far.

Luguentz Dort - G/F, Oklahoma City Thunder

2023/24 Season Averages

Points per game10.7
Rebounds per game3.9
Assists per game1.1
Steals per game1.0
Field goal percentage45.9
Three-point percentage42.6

While the man known as the Dortress has averaged less than half the amount of steals as teammate Gilgeous-Alexander, he's a key reason why the Thunder have the seventh-best defensive rating in the league.

The fact he's shooting career-high percentages from the field and from three should encourage Canada fans even more.

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