There are several Canadian women’s basketball players that have played for a WNBA team. This includes players that have or had played in the WNBA for several years to players who only had a brief time in the WNBA. Despite not having a professional women’s league and/or WNBA team to call their own, Canadian women’s basketball has always produced quality players. This includes three players that made the WNBA All-Star Game.
Canadian Women’s Basketball All-Time Team
Canadian Women’s Basketball Starters
Tammy Sutton-Brown – Center (2001-12)
This was probably the easiest decision to make as Tammy Sutton-Brown is the best-ever Canadian women’s basketball player. Sutton-Brown was drafted 18th overall by the Charlotte Sting in the 2001 WNBA draft. She played six seasons each with the Sting and the Indiana Fever. She made the WNBA All-Star Game two times in her career.
Her first WNBA All-Star appearance was in 2002. 2002 also marked the first time the WNBA All-Star Game had Canadians. In that season, she averaged 11.9 points, 6.0 rebounds, 0.5 assists, 0.9 steals, and 1.1 blocks per game.
Her other WNBA All-Star season was in 2007, where she averaged 12.0 points, 5.4 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 1.0 steal, and 1.4 blocks per game. The other times she averaged above 11 points in her career was in the 2006 season with the Sting and also in the 2008 season with the Fever.
She won a WNBA championship in 2012. This was her last year in the WNBA with the Fever.
Natalie Achonwa – Forward (2015-Present)
Natalie Achonwa was drafted ninth overall in the 2014 WNBA draft by Indiana Fever. In her rookie 2015 WNBA season, she averaged 8.0 points, 3.5 rebounds, 0.6 assists, 0.5 steals, and 0.5 blocks per game.
Her performance in her rookie season resulted in Achonwa making the WNBA All-Rookie Team in 2015. Her best season with the Fever came in the 2018 season, where she averaged career-highs with 10.3 points, 6.9 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 0.9 steals, and 0.7 blocks per game.
Lastly, Achonwa would average a career-high in assists in the 2019 season. She averaged 1.6 assists per game that year.
Achonwa was the player of the game against Sweden in the 2020 FIBA Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament, because of this win Canada qualified for their third-straight Olympic Games in Tokyo next year.
Kayla Alexander – Forward (2013-Present)
Kayla Alexander was drafted eighth overall by the San Antonio Silver Stars in the 2013 WNBA draft. Her best season was the 2016 WNBA season. In that season, she averaged 8.0 points, 4.5 rebounds, 0.5 assists, 0.4 steals, and 0.5 blocks per game. She also had a decent 2017 WNBA season. In that season, she averaged 6.2 points, 3.1 rebounds, 0.5 assists, 0.4 steals, and 0.5 blocks per game.
Alexander can play the center position, but that position has been taken by Sutton-Brown on this list. So, she will be put in the forward position. Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe was also considered for this position.
Yes, Raincock-Ekunwe was rated higher than Alexander in the five best current WNBA players from Canada Last Word On Pro Basketball article. However, when looking at the WNBA career as a whole Alexander has been a better player than Raincock-Ekunwe.
Stacey Dales – Guard (2002-04, 2006-07)
Stacey Dales had a five-year career in the WNBA. She was drafted 3rd in the 2002 WNBA draft by the Washington Mystics. Dales can also play as a small forward in addition to a shooting guard. However, since Dales is a proficient shooter, she was placed as a guard on this list. Behind Sutton-Brown, Dales is probably the second-best ever Canadian women’s basketball player in the WNBA.
Ironically, Dales’ only WNBA All-Star appearance was in 2002, her rookie season with the Mystics. In that season, she averaged 9.8 points, 2.6 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 0.5 steals, and 0.1 blocks per game. What distinguished this season from her other seasons was her three-point percentage. In the 2002 WNBA season, her three-point shooting percentage was 39.4 percent.
She would also average 10 or more points per game two times in her career. For example, in her 2003 WNBA season, she averaged 10 points, and averaged career-highs with 3.0 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 0.9 steals, and 0.4 blocks per game. Her career-high of 10.3 points per game took place in the 2007 WNBA season with the Chicago Sting.
— NCAA March Madness (@MarchMadnessWBB) October 17, 2014
Kia Nurse – Guard (2018-Present)
Kia Nurse was picked 10th overall by the New York Liberty in the 2018 WNBA draft. She became the third Canadian women’s basketball player to make the WNBA All-Star Game in 2019. In that year, she averaged 13.7 points, 2.5 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 0.7 steals, and 0.1 blocks per game.
She also posted impressive stats in her rookie season averaging 9.1 points, 2.4 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 0.7 steals, and 0.1 blocks per game. According to Kristina Rutherford of Sportsnet, Nurse might be the next big thing in Canada. She made Team Canada at the age of 16 and won two NCAA titles at the age of 20.
She scored 34 points, which is the most points recorded in a single game of the 2008 WNBA season for a rookie according to elitesportsny.com. This is what former Liberty player Teresa Weatherspoon said about Nurse’s work ethic according to Sportsnet.
“New York is all about effort and hard work, and so is Kia Nurse,” says Weatherspoon, who led the Liberty to three finals in her playing days. “Because of that, her name will always resonate.”
Nurse is an incredible player and has only just started her career. There is a possibility that she might be the best-ever WNBA Canadian player when her playing career is finished.
Liberty selects G Kia Nurse (UConn), C Mercedes Russell (Tennessee) and G Leslie Robinson (Princeton) in 2018 @WNBA
— New York Liberty (@nyliberty) April 13, 2018
Lastly, Nurse has also contributed to the Canadian women’s national team. She, Raincock-Ekunwe, and Alexander played a big role in Team Canada’s opening win against Belgium in the 2020 FIBA Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
Adut Bulgak – Center (2016-17)
Adut Bulgak was in the WNBA for two years. The South Sudanese-Canadian professional basketball player was drafted 12th by the New York Liberty in the 2016 WNBA draft. In her first year in 2016, she averaged 2.0 points and 1.3 rebounds per game with the New York Liberty. Then in her last season with the Chicago Sky in 2017, she averaged 4.4 points, 4.0 rebounds, 1.0 steal, and 0.4 blocks per game.
Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe – Forward (2017, 2019)
Raincock-Ekunwe went undrafted in the 2013 WNBA draft. She played two seasons for the New York Liberty.
She averaged 3.7 points, 1.8 rebounds, 0.3 assists, and 0.2 steal in the 2017 WNBA season for the New York Liberty. Raincock-Ekunwe had slightly better stats in the 2019 WNBA season. In that season, she averaged 3.7 points, 2.8 rebounds, 0.4 assists, 0.3 steals, and 0.1 blocks per game.
According to CBC of The Canadian Press, Raincock-Ekunwe scored 27 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for Team Canada against Puerto Rico. This helped Canada qualify for the 2020 FIBA Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament. Canada qualified for its third-straight Olympics against Sweden in Belgium.
She also scored 13 points and had 10 rebounds in a win against powerhouse France in the 2018 FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup. According to rotowire.com, Raincock-Ekunwe will unlikely play in the 2020 WNBA season.
Kelly Boucher – Forward (1998)
The first-ever Canadian WNBA player, Kelly Boucher made the list. She played for the Charlotte Sting in 1998, where she averaged 1.1 points, 1.4 rebounds, 0.2 assists, and 0.1 steals per game. Boucher also represented Canada in the 1996 and 2000 Summer Olympics.
Kim Smith – Forward/Guard (2006-08)
Kim Smith was drafted 13th overall in the WNBA draft by the now-defunct Sacramento Monarchs in the 2006 WNBA draft. In the 2006 WNBA season, she averaged 2.4 points, 1.3 rebounds, 0.6 assists, and 0.3 steals.
Her other notable season was the 2008 WNBA season. In that season, she averaged 1.6 points, 0.7 rebounds, 0.2 assists, 0.3 steals, and 0.1 blocks per game. This is what Lisa Thomaidis, Canada women’s head coach said about Smith’s game according to Canada Basketball.
“She does all the little things that require extreme mental toughness. There is not a moment that goes by that she’s not dialed to what’s happening on the floor. It is something that you know she is just ingrained, she has tremendous good habits if the young ones could take that from her my goodness we would be in a great spot.”
Shona Thorburn – Guard (2006-07)
Shona Thorburn was drafted 7th by the Minnesota Lynx in the 2006 WNBA draft. Thorburn played two seasons in the WNBA. In her first season, she averaged 0.7 points, 0.8 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 0.2 steals, and 0.1 blocks per game.
She would improve her points per game with the Seattle Storm in the 2007 season. She averaged 1.0 points per game. However, her other stats went down including her rebounds per game, which went down to 0.5 rebounds per game.
Thorburn may not have the impressive stats of the other current/former WNBA players on this list. However, she played more than one season in the WNBA, which was a criterion used for creating this list.
Overview of the Canadian Women’s All-Time WNBA Team
There is no professional women’s basketball league or professional team in Canada. Yet, Canada produces so many talented players in the WNBA. Yes, Vince Carter probably had something to do with the high number of WNBA players Canada has produced in recent years.
They were able to achieve new heights not seen before for an exceptionally long time. They are ranked fourth in the world according to FIBA.basketball. Canada has also made three straight Olympic appearances (with the third one taking place in Tokyo next year).
Kia Nurse could be the greatest Canadian WNBA player in history. She still has to catch up with Dales and Sutton-Brown but has time to get there. She already did something neither Dales nor Sutton-Brown did, which was to start in a WNBA All-Star Game. Nurse is also only 24 years old and has not reached her peak yet.
She’s also the first Canadian since 2007 and third all-time to be named a WNBA All-Star.
There have now been more Canadians selected to at least one WNBA All-Star Game (Nurse, Tammy Sutton-Brown, Stacey Dales) than the NBA All-Star Game (Steve Nash, Jamaal Magloire) https://t.co/kYfHTMoUcl
— Brian Swane (@BrianSwane) July 11, 2019
There are also other great current WNBA players like Achonwa and Alexander. Both of these players have created a lengthy career for themselves in the WNBA. Expect the Canadian women’s national team to continue to be a basketball powerhouse in the WNBA for years to come.