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Canada Olympic men’s basketball roster: Projecting Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, other NBA stars for Paris 2024 | Sporting News Canada

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Welcome to the golden age of Canadian men’s basketball.

Led by an MVP finalist in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Canada’s NBA talent is thriving across the board. From Denver’s Jamal Murray to Indiana’s Andrew Nembhard and Toronto’s duo of RJ Barrett and Kelly Olynyk, the NBA’s Canadians are starring in their respective roles.

The talent will be on full display in 2024, as Canada’s Senior Men’s National Team will return to the Olympic basketball tournament for the first time since 2000. As the program looks to medal for the first time since 1936, they have a true shot at putting forth one of the most talented rosters in the tournament.

Ahead of the program’s training camp in late June, here’s how I envision Canada’s 12-man roster taking shape.

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Team Canada men’s basketball roster predictions for 2024 Olympics

Backcourt

Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Timberwolves

Alexander-Walker has found his niche in the NBA and is coming off the best season of his career. His 8.0 points per game this season were a few shy of a career-high but he has become one of the league’s most underrated perimeter defenders and is always a threat to knock down an open 3.

During Minnesota’s win over Denver in the second round, Jamal Murray said, “I’m gonna ask for that same defense on Team Canada (this summer),” emphasizing how important Alexander-Walker’s role will be.

RJ Barrett, Raptors

Barrett has been a part of the Senior Men’s National Team for some time now and played a key role on the World Cup team that clinched qualification. During the tournament, Barrett’s 16.8 points per game were second on the team. He also grabbed 5.0 rebounds per game.

In 2000, Barrett was a newborn when his father Rowan and godfather Steve Nash led Canada to its last appearance at the Olympic Men’s Basketball Tournament. Poetically, a 24-year-old Barrett will be on Canada’s next Olympic team.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Thunder

This national team program goes as SGA goes. Given his standing as one of the NBA’s three MVP finalists, the previous sentence is no exaggeration.

Gilgeous-Alexander was everything for Canada during the World Cup. He led the team in points, rebounding and assists with averages of 24.5 points, 6.4 rebounds and 6.4 assists over eight games. His game translates well to FIBA and he’s a star wherever he goes.

With SGA leading the way, Canada can make serious noise at the Olympics. He can make a statement about where he stands among the best in the world, too.

Luguentz Dort, Thunder

Dort’s defensive prowess makes him an extremely valuable piece of the Canadian basketball puzzle. In addition to his perimeter defense, Dort has shown the ability to be an efficient 3-point shooter, allowing him to fit that 3-and-D archetype.

FIBA Basketball is a physical game and when you think of physical basketball players, Dort has to be one of the first to come to mind.

Jamal Murray, Nuggets

Just how scary would a backcourt of Murray and Gilgeous-Alexander be? Canada’s Olympic opponents will soon find out.

Murray is a primetime player who rises to the occasion every time, as shown during the 2023 NBA Playoffs and NBA Finals. Training camp will be crucial for Murray and Gilgeous-Alexander to develop the necessary chemistry to thrive together, but once things click, you could be looking at the world’s best backcourt.

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Andrew Nembhard, Pacers

Nembhard’s spot is rightly earned after a series of breakout performances during the 2024 NBA Playoffs. He made his Senior Men’s National Team debut at 19 and, five years later, can use the experience gained to be an impactful player at the Olympics.

At 6-4, Nembhard is yet another versatile guard with size, allowing Canada to lean into a real identity with its backcourt pieces.

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Frontcourt

Dillon Brooks, Rockets

In many ways, Brooks is the heart and soul of the program. It was on display with his attitude throughout the FIBA Basketball World Cup, which he finished off by scoring 39 points (on 12-of-18 shooting) to lead Canada past Team USA to win third place.

In addition to his attitude, Brooks has size and strength, and he has shown the ability to put the ball through the hoop while playing stellar defense. Teams that want to make noise need a Dillon Brooks.

Zach Edey, TBD

As long as his future NBA team takes no issue, there should be a spot for Edey on the roster.

After spending the last two seasons as college basketball’s best player, Edey continues to improve and a stop at the Olympics would be a great way to kickstart his NBA career. He’s struggled to find a role in recent competitions, but at 7-4, Edey could be a great option for Canada when encountering some of the talented big men at the tournament.

MORE: Why Zach Edey is the most polarizing player in 2024 NBA Draft

Melvin Ejim, Unicaja

Ejim has spent nearly a decade with the Canadian Senior Men’s National team and, through the highs and lows, has been the model of consistency. At the World Cup, he averaged 10.0 minutes per contest and played a major leadership role.

A trip to the Olympics wouldn’t be right without Ejim.

Kelly Olynyk, Raptors

One of the smarter players in the game, Olynyk’s cerebral approach makes life easier for his teammates. At the World Cup, Olynyk’s 10.9 points per game ranked fourth behind Gilgeous-Alexander, Barrett and Brooks. He also averaged 4.6 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game.

A 6-11 forward with playmaking and 3-point shooting ability, Olynyk will play a key role in Canada’s offense humming efficiently.

Dwight Powell and Kelly Olynyk

Dwight Powell, Mavericks

Powell represents Canada’s best blend of size and athleticism. The 6-11 big man will begin his Olympic preparations after a Finals run with the Mavericks, meaning he’ll certainly be in game shape once training camp opens.

As both a lob threat and rebounder, Powell will make his presence felt during the time he’s on the floor.

Andrew Wiggins, Warriors

Wiggins has expressed interest in rejoining the Senior Men’s National Team for the Olympics, an encouraging development for the program. Off talent alone, Wiggins brings Team Canada to another level.

While he and the team could not get over the hump during Olympic Qualifiers in 2021, this would be the most talent that Wiggins has played with on a Canadian National Team roster. Look no further than the 2022 NBA Finals to get an idea of how dangerous Wiggins can be as a team’s third or fourth option.

If that’s the case for this Olympic team, the sky is the limit for Team Canada.

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