It is very odd that the creator of basketball was a Canadian, James Naismith, and contrary to what many people think would be the right thing, when it comes to the NBA, Canada has lacked talents for several years, only having sporadic players that were ok, but not great.
However, there have been other assets that have known how to make themselves a name in the association, becoming great players, idols and inspirations for the generations to come.
At this very moment, there are some really good players in the National Basketball Association; players that have improved the level of their country, making Canada one of the most promising national teams in basketball right now. We can find point guards, small forwards and even big men that have demonstrated that the Great White North has talent, plenty of talent.
Today we are going to list 10 of those Canadian ballers that made life in the NBA and left - or are leaving- a mark in the best basketball in the world. Here is the top 10 best Canadian players in NBA history.
10. Jamaal Magloire
After spending four seasons with the Kentucky Wildcats, Jamaal Magloire was selected by the Charlotte Hornets with the 19th overall pick in the NBA 2000 Draft. Magloire has a tenure of 12 seasons in the big league, in which he played for several teams such as Charlotte/New Orleans, Milwaukee and Portland among others.
During the best year of his career (2003-04), Magloire was selected to participate in the All-Star game, being the second Canadian ever to achieve that. During that year he averaged 13.6 points and 10.3 rebounds playing for the New Orleans Hornets. After that, he couldn’t average more than five points per game until his retirement in 2012.
9. Cory Joseph
Cory is one of those guys that fans love to see playing, as the Canadian is very talented with the ball in his hands and every once in a while can pull off a ridiculous shot when nobody expects it, but, besides that, Cory is part of the exclusive group of players that have ever won an NBA championship -not even Steve Nash could do it.
Joseph did it with the San Antonio Spurs that beat everybody on their way to the championship and the best part of it was that Cory had a big role in that championship, being a great replacement for Tony Parker when Coach Popovich didn’t want to get Joseph off the bench. Right now he’s part of the Indiana Pacers, a team going through a rebuilding process, but with a young core that might be something in the future. Of course, Joseph might be leading that project.
8. Bill Wennington
Perhaps many people think Wennington should be in a higher spot on this list, but the only achievement of Bill was being part of that Bulls led by Michael Jordan after being drafted by the Dallas Mavericks as the 16th overall pick in 1985.
Wennington spent six years playing in the windy city from 1993 to 1999 where he won three NBA rings, but with a very discreet performance. He averaged less than 10 minutes per game during the playoffs, being remembered more like the guy who took the St. John’s Red Storm to their second Final Four in history and nothing else.
7. Kelly Olynyk
Olynyk besides Cory Joseph and others players we’re going to see later are the core of the Canada national team that is expected to be a great competitor in FIBA tournaments very soon. The Toronto native was selected by the Dallas Mavericks in 2013 as the 13th overall pick of that draft but was immediately traded to the Boston Celtics, a team where he started to show the good things he’s capable of doing, even making it the NBA All-Rookie second team in 2014.
Although Olynyk is no longer a part of the Celtics, he’s trying to take his current team, the Miami Heat to achieve big things alongside Hassan Whiteside and Dion Waiters. Olynyk is a very talented big man that can easily attack the rim or shoot 3-pointers and there is no doubt that the future is bright for him.
6. Bob Houbregs
Ok, this one is so far the only Canadian player to be in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame -only until Steve Nash gets selected- and albeit most people think it’s unfair, Bob Houbregs indeed claimed his spot in the immortal room.
Houbregs, however, earned such honor thanks to his days as a college player since Bob led his team, the University of Washington to three first-place finishes in the Pacific Coast Conference, an Elite Eight bid, and a trip to the Final Four before leaving the team as the school’s leaders in points with 1,774 career points in only 91 games.
5. Samuel Dalembert
Alright, it is well known that Dalembert is not a Canadian-born, but he indeed is a citizen of the Great White North. He was born in Haiti before moving to Canada in 1981 to attend Lucien-Pagé High School before entering Seton Hall University and NBA later.
Samuel played during 12 years in the NBA for several teams including the Dallas Mavericks, Sacramento Kings and more. A decade before, in 2007, he was granted Canadian citizenship and had a little participation with the national team in Olympic pre-tournament in 2008. Dalembert and his 6,942 rebounds and 1,546 blocked shots are the most ever for a Canadian player.
4. Tristan Thompson
A good thing for Canada is that they have Tristan Thompson and bad news for Samuel Dalembert is that TT is going to break his rebounds and blocks records in a very short time. Thompson is right now an important player in his team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, being watched at some point in his career as the leader of the team alongside Kyrie Irving.
Well, perhaps his offense has been always a pending job, Tristan and his defense have been really important for the Cleveland Cavaliers; he gets rebounds with extreme ease in both areas of the court and his defensive skills are always there when his team needs it. TT is expected to be not only a good player in NBA but playing for his national team, as Canada counts with a great bunch of players led precisely by this guy.
3. Rick Fox
Ok, here you can say he was just like Bill Wennington, but you’re wrong. Rick Fox actually did something to help his team to win the titles they won and had a really good career in the association following a good tenure with the North Carolina Tar Heels in college basketball.
The small forward had a 13-year career playing at the maximum level with both Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers, the two most successful franchises in the NBA -that must be a proof of why he deserves this spot more than Wennington. Albeit he had his best years in Boston, he won three consecutive championships with the Lakers, helping Los Angeles coming off the bench to replace All-Star Glen Rice. However, after the first title, Fox only could start five games in L.A.
2. Andrew Wiggins
Ok, this guy was expected to be the next LeBron James according to his father’s comments - the first version of LaVar Ball - but so far he hasn’t shown anything remarkable that make him comparable to the King, and being part of a team with several young talents has made things harder for Wiggins.
Luckily for him, he’s young and that can make things easier for the Canadian. This season he has started playing very good, leading his team with Jimmy Butler and Karl Anthony-Towns. Perhaps Wiggins will never reach the level of LeBron, but the small forward has a good future ahead, leading both his NBA squad and his national team.
1. Steve Nash
What can we say about Steve Nash? One of the best point guards in basketball history, a man with extremely talented hands, a great playmaker with a great vision and one of the most unselfish men that ever played the game. Steve Nash is a living legend and the best Canadian players in NBA history without any hesitation.
Albeit he never won a championship, he was the leader of one of the most explosive teams that the association has seen, the Phoenix Suns of Mike D’Antoni. Teaming up with Amar’e Stoudemire, Shawn Marion and Leandro Barbosa, Steve Nash led a team that was ahead of its time, playing at the same pace NBA teams play nowadays. He tried to win a championship with the Lakers during the end of his career, but injuries didn’t let him play as much as he wanted; plus, some misunderstandings between the starts of the team took Los Angeles to have a very disappointing season that one.