There are currently only five Canadian WNBA players. However, when one considers that there is no WNBA team or Canadian pro basketball league for women, it is quite commendable. This is especially true when there are only twelve teams in the WNBA. This means there are not as many internationals in the WNBA than there is in the NBA.
Canada has the third-most WNBA players with five, behind both the U.S. and Australia. The WNBA has also produced some great Canadian basketball players including one that made the 2019 WNBA All-Star Game.
The Top Five Canadian WNBA Players
5 – Bridget Carleton (2019-Present)
Bridget Carleton was drafted 21st in the 2019 WNBA draft by the Connecticut Sun. According to Julian Andrews of the WNBA.com, the Chatham, Ontario native was waived by the Sun. She then signed a seven-day contract with the Minnesota Lynx. A week later according to WNBA.com, the Lynx signed Carleton for the rest of the season.
Carleton averaged 0 points, 0.8 rebounds, and 0.3 assists for the Sun in 2019. She then averaged 0.8 points, 0.3 rebounds, and 0 assists per game with the Minnesota Lynx. Carleton did not get much playing time in the competitive WNBA.
However, the coach and general manager of Minnesota Lynx is impressed with Carleton. This is what she said according to Tommy Burch of Des Moines Register.
“I think she can play,” said Lynx coach and general manager Cheryl Reeve, who was in Ames on Monday for Iowa State’s game against Texas. “She has a leg up in terms of the fact that she’s been in our system for a little bit. So I think she kind of understands a little bit of what we’re trying to do and what maybe her role would be.”
4 – Kayla Alexander (2013-Present)
Kayla Alexander was drafted eighth by the San Antonio Silver Stars. In her rookie season, the 2013 WNBA season, she averaged 2.8 points, 3 rebounds, 0.3 assists, 0.1 steals, and 0.4 blocks per game. Her best season was the 2016 WNBA season, in that season she averaged 8 points, 4.5 rebounds, 0.5 assists, 0.4 steals, and 0.5 blocks per game. She was injured for most of the season last year but averaged only 2.7 points per game in 30 games in 2018 for the Indiana Fever.
3 – Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe (2017, 2019-Present)
Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe went undrafted at the 2013 WNBA draft. However, after playing overseas, she was able to sign with the New York Liberty. She has played two seasons in the WNBA. Her first season was in the 2017 WNBA season. In that season, she averaged 3.7 points, 1.8 rebounds, 0.3 assists, 0.2 steals, and 0 blocks per game. In the 2019 WNBA season, she averaged 3.7 points, 2.8 rebounds, 0.4 assists, 0.3 steals, and 0.1 blocks per game.
Her minutes had gone up in the latter part of the WNBA season. Her two best games came at the latter part of the season, having 10 points and seven rebounds against the Connecticut Sun on August 30th and then having 12 points and five rebounds against the Washington Mystics on September 3rd.
She also had slightly better stats than Alexander, a big reason why she was ranked third on this list. This is despite the New York Liberty only having 10 wins and 21 losses, which was the second-worst record in the WNBA.
2 – Natalie Achonwa (2015-Present)
Natalie Achonwa was drafted ninth overall by the Indiana Fever. In her rookie season in 2015, she averaged 8 points, 3.5 rebounds, 0.6 assists, 0.5 steals, and 0.5 blocks per game. Her best season though was in the 2018 WNBA season with the Fever. In that season, she averaged 10.3 points, 6.9 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 0.9 steals, and 0.7 blocks per game.
Furthermore, in the following 2019 WNBA season, she would average a career-high in assists with 1.6 per game. Her most notable game was against the Dallas Wings last year. In that game, she had a double-double with 17 points, 11 rebounds, five assists, and two blocks in a 15-point win against the Dallas Wings.
1 – Kia Nurse (2018-Present)
Kia Nurse was drafted 10th by the New York Liberty in the 2018 WNBA draft. In the 2018 WNBA season, she averaged 9.1 points, 2.4 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 0.7 steals, and 0.1 blocks per game. Then in the 2019 WNBA season, she averaged 13.7 points, 2.5 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 0.7 steals, and 0.1 blocks per game. Her performance in the 2019 WNBA season gave her her first WNBA All-Star appearance in just her second season in the league.
Lisa Thomaidas, current head coach of the Canadian women’s basketball team had this to say about Nurse according to Kristina Rutherford of Sportsnet:
“You saw the speed and athleticism and toughness, and you knew she had a lot of intangibles along with the athletic ability. That combination, it’s very, very rare to find,” says the coach, who also played alongside Nurse’s mom in university. “She sent a message loud and clear that she was going to be prominent on our national team for years to come.”
Overview of the Players in Canada
The WNBA, which consists of 12 teams in the US, does not have as many international players as the NBA. However, despite that, there five Canadian WNBA players, which is the third most of any nationality in the WNBA. This is more than the number of Canadian NBA players in 1995. The number, since 1995, has shot up in the NBA. This was when the NBA expanded from 27 to 29 teams with Toronto and Vancouver. According to FIBA Basketball, Canada is currently ranked fourth in international women’s basketball.
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