The province of Quebec is currently experiencing the rapid growth of players playing in the NBA. There are several reasons for this including the presence of the Toronto Raptors, immigration, and academies in the province of Quebec. As a result, Quebec has become a basketball hotbed for talent in Canada, although none of the players were drafted into the NBA. Keep in mind that all stats of these players are up to date to the morning of April 30.
The Three Current Quebec NBA Players Ranked
3. Khem Birch (2017-Present)
Khem Birch, a 28-years-old center, has made a step up this year. In his 2017-18 NBA rookie season with the Orlando Magic, he averaged 4.2 points and 4.3 rebounds per game. Birch averaged 5.3 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 1.1 assists per game with the Orlando Magic in the 2020-21 NBA season. This year, he is currently averaging 6.0 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 1.1 assists per game with the Magic and the Raptors. Most importantly, he is stepping up for Toronto.
He is averaging a career-high in points and rebounds per game this season. Furthermore, his stats have gone up since being waived by the Magic and then signed with the Raptors. For Toronto, Birch is averaging 9.8 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 1.1 assists per game. This included scoring 14 points, six rebounds, and one assist against the San Antonio Spurs on April 14 in a 112-117 Raptors win.
“I think he’s a guy that could become a quality backup big man in this league,” Nurse continued. “He’s got some length and got some athleticism and some shot-blocking and some rebounding. I’m excited to have him and hope we can help him develop.”
2. Luguentz Dort (2019-Present)
Luguentz Dort, the 22-years-old shooting guard/small forward, had an unexpected rise in the NBA. This is especially true since he was undrafted in the 2019 NBA draft class. In the 2019-20 NBA season, he averaged 6.8 points and 2.3 rebounds per game. Most notably was his 2020 NBA playoff series against the Houston Rockets. In that series, he averaged 12.5 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 1.0 assists per game. This included scoring 30 points against the Houston Rockets in game seven of the NBA playoffs.
He has carried this momentum into the current NBA season. In that season, he averaged 14.2 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 1.6 assists per game. His most notable game was getting 42 points, seven rebounds, three assists, and four steals in a 96-106 loss to the Utah Jazz on April 13.
This is what Nurse said about Dort, who scored 29 points against Toronto on April 18 according to Mike Ganter of Postmedia News.
“He’s becoming a force, like not just a roster player, he’s becoming a force out there,” Nurse said. “The way he can put his shoulder down and get to the rim and the way he’s starting to shoot the ball and the way he can really change the game defensively … there’s not a whole lot of guys in the league that can do that. I mean they are some, but he is one of them.”
1. Chris Boucher (2017-Present)
The power forward and center for the Raptors is the best Quebecer currently playing in the NBA. At 28-years-old, Chris Boucher is at his peak and has also dramatically improved his game. In the 2018-19 NBA season with the Raptors, he averaged just 3.3 points and 2.0 rebounds per game.
He is now averaging 13.6 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 1.1 assists per game in the 2020-21 NBA season. This includes scoring 31 points, 12 rebounds, and two assists in a 106-112 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder. This is what 2020 NBA All-Star Starter Pascal Siakam said about Boucher earlier in the year according to Yahoo Sports Canada.
“Oh again I mean I think Chris is doing a fabulous job man like just um for us on both ends you know blocking shots you know with energy and then you know his three is going down so definitely good for us and I’m proud of him.”
Boucher had 31 points, 12 rebounds, and two assists on April 18 against the Thunder. His team was able to beat Dort and the Thunder 106-112, and this along with rebounds was a big reason why Boucher is ranked first on this list.
The latest episode of @cbcsports video series North Courts features a discussion on Canadians in the #NBA and the rise of Quebec basketball with Birch, Boucher, and Dort taking center stage. @CanBball going from strength to strength 🇨🇦💪🏼https://t.co/YZ8ANZP1Fo
— Swarali Patil (@Swarali_Patil2) April 29, 2021
Overview of the Surge of Quebec Talent in the NBA
If this article was done a bit earlier, it would be about the top four Quebec NBA players in Canada. Karim Mané was undrafted in the 2020 NBA Draft. In the 2020-21 NBA season, Mané is currently averaging 1.1 points and 1.4 rebounds per game. He is the first-ever player from the CEGEP (Quebec’s education system) to make the NBA.
Unfortunately for Mané, he was dropped by the Orlando Magic because of injury concerns according to Mr. Wavvy of Cult MTL. He scored a total of nine points and 14 rebounds. Most notably, there is a possibility of one or two Quebecers being drafted in the 2021 NBA draft. Bennedict Mathurin is expected to be drafted in the early-mid second round. The other Quebecer who could be drafted is Quincy Guerrier.
This would possibly increase the number of players from the province of Quebec to five players. Furthermore, if Mané returns to the NBA, Quebec would have six NBA players. It is one of the most overlooked stories in the NBA. Also, Mark Tatum, Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer of the NBA said last December that Montreal expressed interest in an NBA franchise.
#NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer Mark Tatum to my question about expansion and if Montréal is a viable option: “Montréal is a fantastic city… Montréal has expressed interest in having an NBA franchise”. #RDS
— Peter Yannopoulos (@PeteYannopoulos) December 22, 2020
Montreal will have stiff competition though to be one of the new NBA expansion teams. Firstly, Seattle and Vancouver, who both lost their NBA teams are strong contenders to get their NBA team back. Furthermore, Las Vegas is considered a very strong candidate to have an NBA expansion franchise in the near future.
Montreal is Getting a Pro Basketball Team
Kwabena Oduro, a video journalist at CBC Montreal had some big news for the province of Quebec.
SCOOP: The @CEBLeague commissioner Mike Morreale confirms that Montreal will be getting a pro basketball team in 2022. He says talks have been going on with the city and the venue but he could not say which venue the team will play at. #CEBLMontreal2022 pic.twitter.com/GpESe4OJ3Z
— Kwabena Oduro (@Kwabz9) February 4, 2021
Montreal will have a pro men’s basketball team next year. It is not the NBA, but it is at least a local basketball team that they can attend and support. The CEBL also wants to eventually have a team in Quebec City (stated in Abdulhamid Ibrahim article for the CBC), the capital of Quebec. This is what the Commissioner and CEO of the CEBL (Canadian Elite Basketball League) Mike Morreale said about his vision of the league according to the CEBL:
“With Greg, Lee, John, Glenn and the rest of our CEBL team we bring decades of rich experience in sports and league management to ensure our league becomes one of the best and most competitive basketball leagues in the world.”
If this comes true, the potential of how many Canadians could be in the NBA is limitless. It would grow the number of NBA players not just in Quebec, but also in the country of Canada as a whole. Also, the news of a Montreal CEBL team means that there will be at least one professional men’s basketball team in nine of the 10 provinces in Canada next year. The only province not to have a pro men’s basketball team is the province of Manitoba.
Main Photo: Embed from Getty Images