When the Toronto Raptors won the NBA Championship, many viewed it as a victory for Canada. Despite this, the Canadian representation on the team was limited — consisting mostly of players from Africa, Europe, Australia, and of course, the United States.
With a new season before us, the team has changed this ever-so-slightly, but the trend remains. This doesn’t mean that the team completely lacks Canadian representation. Here’s the Canadian makeup of the NBA and the Raptors in2019.
Canadians in the NBA
The NBA has seen an influx of Canadian talent over the last few years. As of the start of the 2019-20 season, 16 of the NBA’s 108 international players had Canadian roots. Gone are the days when Steve Nash represented a relatively rare Canadian superstar.
Many of the league’s young athletes want to continue what Nash began. Andrew Wiggins, who is currently having his best NBA season ever after going No. 1 in the 2014 draft, was born in Toronto.
NBA Champion Tristan Thompson was a major role player for the Cleveland Cavaliers, making him one of the most successful Canadian players in history concerning wins. Jamal Murray, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and RJ Barrett are representing a younger generation of Canadian baller.
Many of the other Canadian players are smaller names who make a big impact on their teams. Once a valuable member of the San Antonio Spurs, Cory Joseph played in Toronto for three seasons but now plays in Sacramento. Dillon Brooks, Brandon Clarke, Trey Lyles, Kelly Olynyk, Dwight Powell, and several others are scattered throughout the NBA.
In Toronto, however, there are currently two Canadian players on the roster.
The Toronto Raptors’ Chris Boucher
Chris Boucher may not be the first, second, third, or fourth name that people associate with the Raptors’ championship team, but eagle-eyed viewers may have noticed him cheering from the bench in the playoffs.
Boucher was born in the Caribbean nation of Saint Lucia but spent much of his upbringing in Montreal, Quebec. Although he was never a college star, he was a consistent presence for the Oregon Ducks’ basketball team, averaging 12 points a game, just under seven rebounds, and three blocks as a big man.
After two seasons in Oregon, Boucher went undrafted. But he got a chance with the Warriors, where he played one game in 2018. Afterward, he went to Toronto, where he occasionally got some run during blowouts.
This year, with a new roster, he is getting more time to shine. Boucher is averaging 12 minutes a game as he runs with the Raptors’ second and third units. He could be in for a breakout year if given the chance.
The Raptors’ Oshae Brissett
Oshae Brissett, like several of his fellow Canadians in the NBA, was born in Toronto. He first played for Syracuse’s storied basketball program, spending two years with the school. During that time, Brissett averaged nearly 14 points per game, eight rebounds, one assist, one steal, and just under a block a game.
This gave him NBA attention, but Brissett had to wait until after the draft, as the Clippers signed him for Summer League before the Raptors ultimately committed to him. Brissett eventually signed a two-way contract with Toronto in October, meaning that he would spend most of his time with the G League affiliate while also being on call for the defending champions.
Although he has played four games for the Raptors, it is with the Raptors 905 where Brissett has gotten the most burn. Through eight games with the G League team, he has averaged 14 points, although he’s only shooting 34.5% from the field while doing so.
The power forward is doing work on the boards, however, averaging eight rebounds. He’s even showing some passing and defensive abilities. Time will tell if Brissett can become an NBA talent. But if he can make his name in his birth city, he will have an entire country rooting for him.