There’s no denying the impact that foreign-born players have made in the NBA over the last couple of decades. The likes of Dirk Nowitzki, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, and Giannis Antetokounmpo have all been bonafide stars. But getting lost in the shuffle are some of the players who have come from north of the border and made their mark in the NBA. More than ever, players from the Great White North are becoming impact players in the NBA, which is why we thought it was appropriate to pay homage to the best Canadian players in NBA history.
5. Tristan Thompson
His career isn’t over yet, but Thompson has already done enough to put himself among the best Canadian players of all-time. In fairness, he went to prep school in the U.S. to get more exposure. Of course, that plan worked, as he was a McDonald’s All-American and Big 12 Freshman of the Year at Texas before being selected 4th overall in the 2011 NBA Draft.
While Thompson never developed into an all-star, he’s been a steady player and a regular starter in Cleveland throughout his career. He was the team’s second-leading rebounder when the Cavaliers won the NBA championship during the 2015-16 season. Thompson has also represented Canada on multiple occasions during international competition.
4. Jamaal Magloire (Hornets)
Magloire played his high school basketball in his hometown of Toronto, but that didn’t stop him from drawing the attention of a basketball powerhouse like Kentucky. He left the Wildcats after four seasons as the school’s all-time leader in blocked shots. Magloire also won a national championship at Kentucky in 1998 before being a first-round pick in the 2000 NBA Draft.
As a pro, Magloire got off to a slow start but started to find his groove in his third NBA season. In his fourth season, Magloire averaged a double-double and earned an All-Star Game invitation, becoming just the second Canadian to be named an NBA all-star. He ended up having a solid, 12-season career in the NBA.
3. Andrew Wiggins
One day, Wiggins may have a chance to earn the top spot on this list, but he’s not there yet. The Toronto native might be the most talented basketball player Canada has ever produced. After moving to the U.S. as a prep player, Wiggins won Mr. Basketball USA before being a consensus All-American during his only college season at Kansas.
Wiggins ultimately went first overall in the 2014 NBA Draft, becoming the second Canadian after Anthony Bennett to earn that distinction. Unlike Bennett, Wiggins has become anything but a bust. He won Rookie of the Year honors in 2015 and continued to elevate his game from there. He’s still one of the youngest stars in the NBA and could one day make a compelling argument as the best Canadian player of all time.
2. Rick Fox
Some people forget that Fox is Canadian because he played high school basketball in both the Bahamas and Indiana. But the Toronto born basketball star turned actor and entrepreneur is one of the best basketball players to come out of the Great White North. He was an All-ACC player at North Carolina and helped the Tar Heels to the Final Four in 1991.
In the NBA, Fox was largely a bench player early in his career but slowly found his way. During the 1995-96 and 96-97 seasons with the Celtics, he averaged 14 and 15.4 points, respectively. Fox then found his way to the Lakers, becoming a key role player on the L.A. teams that won three straight NBA titles from 2000 to 2002. He started nearly every game for the 2001 and 2002 teams, ultimately playing 13 seasons in the NBA, averaging 9.6 points per game in his career.
1. Steve Nash
At the moment, there’s no doubt that Nash is the best Canadian of all-time. While he was born in South Africa, he moved to British Columbia as a baby and has represented Canada in international competitions. He stayed in B.C. for high school but was lightly recruited despite being a three-sport star.
After leading Santa Clara to an upset of Maryland in the 1996 NCAA Tournament, Nash was selected 15th overall in the NBA Draft, and the rest is history. He played 18 seasons in the NBA and was named an all-star eight times. He led the league in assists five times and earned membership in the 50-40-90 club on four occasions. Of course, Nash’s biggest accomplishments were his back-to-back MVP awards in 2005 and 2006. His accomplishments still fill Canadians with a great sense of pride for their favorite son.