All-Canadian NBA rotation: Eight players to watch in 2016-17

The 2016-17 NBA season begins Tuesday night and there are 11 Canadians on opening-night rosters. That's the most players from a country that isn't the United States and serves as further confirmation that Canada is growing as a basketball nation. Canada can absolutely field a competitive NBA roster these days, so in the spirit of recognizing that progress, here's a look at what that team might look like, with updates on the Canadian players to watch this year.


PG - Cory Joseph (Toronto Raptors)

The hometown kid didn't take long to find his place in his first season with the Raptors. Joseph excelled as the team's backup point guard, as well as in lineups alongside All-Star Kyle Lowry. With Toronto looking like one of the top contenders in the Eastern Conference, Joseph's contributions will once again be hugely important.

SG - Jamal Murray (Denver Nuggets)

Welcome, rook. Murray made it six straight years a Canadian was picked in the first round of the NBA draft when he was selected seventh overall by the Nuggets. Armed with what seems like unlimited shooting range and an impressive handle, there's no questioning his offensive potential. Look for Denver to use Murray at point guard and shooting guard and let him loose off the bench.

SF - Andrew Wiggins (Minnesota Timberwolves)

It's hard to believe it's already year No. 3 for Wiggins in the NBA. Now with new coach Tom Thibodeau taking over in Minnesota, it's time for the 21-year-old swingman to take the next step in his development. A more consistent three-point shot and a commitment to defence (that's where Thibodeau will help) will go a long way in making that a reality.

PF - Tristan Thompson (Cleveland Cavaliers)

Thompson returns to the court with a ring from the Cavaliers' championship run. He's one of the most relentless rebounders in the league, especially on the offensive glass, doing the dirty work so LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love can shine. Cleveland is a title threat again this year, and Thompson will be central to their pursuit of repeating.

C - Kelly Olynyk (Boston Celtics)

The Celtics aren't going to catch anyone by surprise this season, and Olynyk's play isn't either, once he fully recovers from a right shoulder injury that required offseason surgery. He's established himself as a 7-footer who can stretch the floor (40.5 per cent from three) and fit seamlessly into a pass-and-move offence. A healthy Olynyk playing alongside free-agent acquisition Al Horford will only solidify that.


F - Dwight Powell (Dallas Mavericks)

Powell got paid in the summer, signing a four-year, $37 million deal to stay with Dallas. The 6-foot-11 forward will have an expanded role as the Mavericks' top frontcourt sub behind veterans Dirk Nowitzki and Andrew Bogut. Not too shabby for a second-round pick a couple years ago.

F - Trey Lyles (Utah Jazz)

Utah is a popular sleeper pick and Lyles is a key reason why. His versatility as a big man who can handle the ball on the perimeter and bang inside makes him a valuable asset in today's NBA. If the Jazz are going to realize their suddenly lofty expectations, that likely means Lyles is having a breakout sophomore season.

G - Nik Stauskas (Philadelphia 76ers)

Stauskas' NBA career has been a bit uneven through two seasons. He was traded to Philadelphia from Sacramento after his rookie year and didn't find his footing with the 76ers, either. Time is ticking for Stauskas to show the promise that made him a first-round pick in 2014, but the Sixers are hopeful that putting him in more of a facilitator's role will spark his shooting, thought to be his biggest strength, and renew his confidence.

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Israel Fehr is a writer for Yahoo Canada Sports. Email him at or follow him on Twitter. Follow @israelfehr