🏀 The 13 Canadians in the 2023 NBA playoffs
Eastern Conference (EC)
Lindell Wigginton, Milwaukee Bucks: The highest ranked EC team with a Canadian on their roster is poised to make a deep run.Wigginton, a two-way player with the Bucks and the G-League Wisconsin Herd, has suited up for both teams this season and been the epitome of consistency for the latter. Booyah.
Mfiondu Kabengele, Boston Celtics: Though the G-Leaguer hasn’t seen much playing time with Boston this season, he’s been crushing it as a two-way player for the G-League’s Maine Celtics. No time like the playoffs to make an impact off the bench, right?
RJ Barrett, NY Knicks: Barrett scored in the double digits in every game except one in 2023 and has emerged as a franchise leader, especially with All-Star Julius Randle out due to injury. Sitting in fifth place in the East, Barrett and the Knicks are in their redemption era after missing the playoffs entirely in 2022.
Chris Boucher & Dalano Banton, Toronto Raptors: Canada’s very own Raptors are in the play-in tournament and will count on the benevolent Boucher, whose game has only improved throughout the season, to guide them to a postseason berth. The question is, can he step up in the big moments and will Banton recover in time to provide support?
Western Conference (WC)
Jamal Murray, Denver Nuggets: After tearing his ACL in April 2021, the superstar is back and better than ever. Murray stepped up for the Nugs in a big way as the season wound down, especially with two-time reigning MVP Nikola Jokić dealing with injury.
Brandon Clarke & Dillon Brooks, Memphis Grizzlies: Clarke will be cheering on his team from the sidelines after tearing his left Achilles in March (horrible timing), but the notorious Brooks will be a player to watch — that is, if he can stay on the court.
Andrew Wiggins, Golden State Warriors: After a prolonged absence to attend to a family matter, the All-Star should be back on the hardwood shortly to help his reigning champion Warriors defend their title. Look for Wiggins to support the Splash Bros in scoring.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander & Luguentz “Lu” Dort, Oklahoma City Thunder: The star of the show, Gilgeous-Alexander will be looking to take OKC to the playoffs for the first time since the 2019–20 season. For his part, Dort, who had a great end to the regular season, will be looking to keep that momentum going into the anxiety-inducing play-in.
Of course, there are quite a few Canadians in the NBA who didn’t make the playoffs or play-in tournament. In the EC, the Indiana Pacers, who made history at the end of March by starting three Canadians for the first time in league history, didn’t make the cut, in spite of standout seasons from both rookies Bennedict Mathurin and Andrew Nembhard.
In the WC, Dwight Powell and two-way G Leaguer A.J. Lawson’s playoff hopes were lost as the Dallas Mavericks crashed and burned at the end of the season. Kelly Olynyk of the Utah Jazz, injured Khem Birch of the San Antonio Spurs and rookie Shaedon Sharpe of Portland Trail Blazers also had their seasons cut short.
Whether your fave Canadian made the playoffs or not, there’s one thing for certain, Canada’s becoming a hotbed for basketball talent.