Team Canada has yet to secure a place in the men’s basketball event at the Tokyo Olympics, but the club should have a loaded roster as it looks to lock up a spot in a qualifying tournament next month.
Canada Basketball issued a press release today announcing its 21-player preliminary roster for the Olympic qualifier, and the group includes 14 players who finished the season on NBA contracts. Here’s the full list:
- Kyle Alexander, F
- Nickeil Alexander-Walker, G (Pelicans)
- RJ Barrett, G (Knicks)
- Trae Bell-Haynes, G
- Anthony Bennett, F
- Khem Birch, C (Raptors)
- Oshae Brissett, F (Pacers)
- Dillon Brooks, F (Grizzlies)
- Brandon Clarke, F (Grizzlies)
- Aaron Doornekamp, F
- Luguentz Dort, F (Thunder)
- Melvin Ejim, F
- Cory Joseph, G (Kings)
- Trey Lyles, F (Spurs)
- Mychal Mulder, G (Warriors)
- Andrew Nicholson, F
- Andrew Nembhard, G
- Kelly Olynyk, F (Rockets)
- Dwight Powell, F (Mavericks)
- Tristan Thompson, C (Celtics)
- Andrew Wiggins, F (Warriors)
Of the seven players who didn’t play in the NBA this season, one (Bennett) is a former first overall pick, another (Nicholson) was also a first-round selection, and a third (Alexander) has NBA experience. Bell-Haynes has played in the G League, while Doornekamp, Ejim, and Nembhard all have extensive experience representing Canada in past international competitions.
Still, a few noteworthy names are missing from the list. Nuggets guard Jamal Murray is recovering from a torn ACL and won’t be able to participate. Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is also dealing with an injury, announcing on Instagram that rehabbing the plantar fasciitis in his right foot will prevent him from representing Team Canada.
Raptors big man Chris Boucher is a third notable omission. According to Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca (Twitter link), Boucher is focused on rehabbing a knee sprain and wants to make sure he’s 100% healthy heading into 2021/22. He also has a somewhat uncertain contract situation — his $7MM salary for next season is non-guaranteed, though I’d be shocked if he’s not retained.
Even without Murray, Gilgeous-Alexander, and Boucher, Canada Basketball is in position to run out a roster stacked with NBA talent and led by former NBA Coach of the Year Nick Nurse.
While the final roster will depend in part on which players are available, none of the 21 players on the preliminary are on teams expected to still be alive for the conference finals. However, a club like Powell’s Mavericks or Barrett’s Knicks could surprise.
Team Canada will compete against Greece, China, Uruguay, Turkey, and the Czech Republic in a qualifying tournament in Victoria, British Columbia between June 29 and July 4. If the club wins that six-team qualifier, it will be part of the 12-team field in Tokyo and would be a legit contender for a medal.