2023-07-28 · 2 min read · FIBA World Cup/Basketball
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander during first half FIBA international men's World Cup basketball

Cole Burston/The Canadian Press | Getty Images

Let's go back in time for a minute. 23 years ago to the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, when Canadian basketball icon Steve Nash led the Canadian men's national team as the lone NBA player on the roster. Despite the lack of talent around him, Nash managed to carry his team to a win in the group stage. At the time, it was quite an accomplishment for Canada basketball.
But now things have changed. Heading into the upcoming 2023 FIBA World Cup, which takes place from August 25th to September 10th in the South Pacific, The Canadian National team is boasting the most talent they've ever had. With ten NBA players on board. And they could be in line for much more than just a win in the group stage.
In fact, they're a favourite to medal for the first time in the program's history on the world stage. So let's break it all down. The core of this team starts in the backcourt with Jamal Murray and Shaykh Gilgeous-Alexander. We'll start with Murray, a newly crowned NBA champion who's coming off a brilliant playoff performance in which he averaged 26.1 points per game and 7.1 assists helping the Denver Nuggets to their first-ever title.
Murray is a bona fide top 20 player in the NBA and could arguably be the second-best guard in the Fifa World Cup. As for the best guard in the tournament, well, that honour goes to fellow Canadian Gilgeous-Alexander. SGA finished last season fifth in MVP voting. He was also named to the all-NBA First Team as the point guard.
He lit it up last year with 31 points per game on a staggering 51% from the field. Together, the two young stars make up a backcourt that would rival the best in the NBA, let alone the FIBA World Cup.
Beyond that, Canada will also have some tough wings in the mix as well, with the likes of RJ Barrett, Lu Dort and Dillon Brooks, all of whom have some deficiencies in their offensive games, particularly shooting, which could be the Achilles heel of this team overall. But they're all locked down high-level NBA defenders that play with high energy and can get out and run on the fast break.
The frontcourt could be a bit of an issue for this team, but they do have a pair of steady veterans. Kelly Olynyk, and Dwight Powell, both of whom have carved out solid NBA careers for themselves.
Now, of course, when looking at their competition, the United States remains the clear favourite for gold. Other powerhouses are the always solid Australians, as well as France. But for Canada, even being in the medal discussion is new territory. The argument could certainly be made that they have the second most basketball talent in the world right now behind the U.S., which speaks to how far the game has come in this country over the last 23 years.
Sports Tree Profile

By: Eddie Huband


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