September 21, 2023
Braedon Clark

Drafting the Perfect Canadian Olympic Basketball Team (2 minute read)

After an exhilarating third-place finish in this summer’s FIBA World Cup--capped off by an oh-so-satisfying win over the Americans in the bronze medal game--Canada’s men’s basketball team is off to the Olympics for the first time since 2000.

Make no mistake, the Olympic tournament is going to be a beast. LeBron has already put out the Bat Signal and I fully expect the USA will bring the big boys to Paris. Think LeBron, KD, Steph Curry, and more. Serbia finished second this summer and will be adding the best player in the world in Nikola Jokic. Host France will have a frontline as big as the Monstars from Space Jam: Rudy Gobert, Victor Wembanyama, and possibly Joel Embiid.

Canada needs to assemble the best possible roster to compete for a medal. Here’s my take on the 12 man roster I hope to see when the tournament kicks off next July, starting with returning players from this summer.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
Coming off an evisceration of the competition at the World Cup, SGA is the clear-cut alpha dog and the best Canadian basketball player since Steve Nash. I love this man.

Dillon Brooks
The best Canadian villain since Jim Carrey as the Riddler. Dropped 39 on the Americans in the bronze medal game. Dillon giveth and Dillon taketh away (dumb fouls, poor shot selection), but he’s an absolute lock.

RJ Barrett
I wish he was more consistent, but another easy pick.

Kelly Olynyk
Looks like a seven-foot skateboarder, but his game is perfectly suited to international basketball. He can pass, shoot, and dribble.

Dwight Powell
Knows his role perfectly. Defend, rebound, and dunk the ball when it comes to you.

Luguentz Dort
Wish he was a better shooter, but is built like a brick wall and plays his heart out. One of the few people on Earth who can physically match up with LeBron.

Nickeil Alexander-Walker
Provides much needed shooting and ball handling and is a pesky and long defender.

Before I fill out the final five spots, a quick note. I know Canada Basketball has said they want to reward players who have shown commitment to the team over multiple summers. I get it, I really do. But we need to pick the best team possible to compete. Harsh, but necessary. Sorry Phil Scrubb, I’m a Carleton alum and I respect you, but you aren’t making the cut.

Back to it.

Jamal Murray
Missed this summer due to a long season in Denver. Should be an All-Star this year and should be a perfect fit next to SGA. Can’t wait to see that backcourt.

Andrew Wiggins
The Sasquatch of Canada Basketball—rarely seen but often discussed. There doesn’t seem to be warm feelings between the two camps, but talent rules everything. If he wants to play, he should have a spot.

Brandon Clarke
Clarke is a better, more athletic version of Dwight Powell. He tore his Achilles in March but is expected back with Memphis at some point this season.

Trey Lyles
Provides much needed size and shooting ability. Had a strong comeback season with Sacramento.

Shaedon Sharpe
Maybe the most athletic player in the NBA gets the last spot on my fake team. I think he’s due for a breakout season.

There you have it. Apologies to Oshae Brisset, Khem Birch, Corey Joseph, Andrew Nembhard, and Bennedict Mathurin. We are truly in a golden age of Canadian basketball when several NBA players won’t make the Olympic team.

On to Paris and hopefully a spot atop the podium.