This past year saw a record 25 Canadians enter the season on NBA rosters, some who had been household names beyond their own hometowns for a while now, and others who made quick strides into becoming impactful. Updating this list so close to last season’s speaks to that growth in the game as well as the larger basketball landscape.
When putting this ranking together for the second time, there were 13 Canadian athletes who had made early declarations for the 2022 NBA Draft. By the time Draft night rolled around, with a handful of opt-outs and guys who will surely blaze their own pathways to the league, four Canadians were drafted. Two went back-to-back in the top 10.
What’s more, Canada’s men’s national basketball team now boasts the second most players in the NBA, behind the U.S.
All to say, it’s likely this list is going to have to be re-ranked every season, and that’s kind of the best problem to have. Ahead of Canada’s pair of 2023 FIBA World Cup qualifiers—on July 1 against the Dominican Republic in Hamilton and July 4 against the host U.S. Virgin Islands—we updated our ranking of the best Canadian NBA players in the NBA right now.
20. Nate Darling
19. Ignas Brazdeikis
18. Dalano Banton
17. Tristan Thompson
16. Josh Primo
15. Trey Lyles
14. Khem Birch
13. Oshae Brissett
The Mississauga, Ontario native should be proud of what he accomplished in Indiana this season. He played a career-high 67 games including 25 starts in which he averaged 13.7 points, 7.1 rebounds and almost a steal and a block per game. Brissett also scored a career-high 28 points in the final game of the season against the Brooklyn Nets. Oh, and how about this dunk to top it off:
After the Raptors decided to move on from him a couple seasons ago, it appears Brissett has found a home with the Pacers and here’s to him keeping it going next season. —Vivek Jacob
12. Cory Joseph
11. Nickeil Alexander-Walker
10. Kelly Olynyk
This was a rough season for Olynyk as injuries meant he played in just 40 games. It’s particularly disappointing considering the start he had, averaging over 12 points and five rebounds and providing spacing as usual. His standout moment came shortly after the All-Star break, when he hit a game-winner against the Hornets.
Olynyk signed a three-year, $37 million deal with the Pistons last season and both sides will be hoping to see that value realized in 2022-2023. —Vivek Jacob
9. Dwight Powell
8. Brandon Clarke
7. Chris Boucher
6. Luguentz Dort
5. RJ Barrett
RJ Barrett has the swagger of a star; he’s just piecing together what it takes to do it night-in and night-out through two seasons.
After struggling until December averaging just over 15 points per game and doing so inefficiently, the 22-year-old was in need of something to kickstart his season. That moment came in early January, when Barrett drained a game-winning three-pointer off the glass against the Boston Celtics.
After Jan. 9, Barrett averaged 23.9 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 3.5 assists over the final 37 games including a career-high 46 points against the Miami Heat on Feb. 25. Efficiency was still an issue as he shot just 41.1 percent from the field and 72.7 percent from the free-throw line over that span, but the skeletal framework of how to pick apart an NBA defence was very much on display. Watch for Barrett to take these lessons into the start of next season, as well as the time he’s spending with DeMar DeRozan to work on his footwork over the summer. —Vivek Jacob