Photo Credit: Scotiabank Arena
The Toronto Raptors have now been around for over a quarter of a century, and have seen a plethora of players don a Raptors jersey and represent Canada’s team. Sprinkled in among the 247 different faces that fans have gotten accustomed to over the years are a handful of Canadian players, whose time in their home country came with varying degrees of success.
As more and more Canadians flourish in the NBA, I wanted to rank the Canucks that have appeared in Raptors colours based on their influence and performances with the team.
6. Anthony Bennett
Photo Credit: Melissa Renwick/Toronto Star
The Toronto-native and 2013 first-overall pick was expected to become a star in the NBA as a versatile and athletic scorer. At six-foot-eight and 240 pounds, his imposing physique had many around the league excited about the star-caliber potential from the UNLV alum. This potential never materialized, and after mediocre stints with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Minnesota Timberwolves, Bennett signed a one-year deal with his hometown Raptors in September 2015, hoping for a second chance at stardom in a familiar environment.
It turned out to be anything but a good shot at sparking his career, as he put up career-worst numbers in his time with the Raptors. In 19 appearances, Bennett averaged 4.4 minutes, 1.5 points and 1.2 rebounds per game while shooting only 29.6 percent from the field. He moved on to Brooklyn where he lasted 23 games and has not appeared in an NBA game since. Rough.
5. Oshae Brissett
Photo Credit: Takashi Aoyama/Getty Images
As an undrafted 21-year-old, Brissett split his time in Toronto between the Raptors and the 905. In 19 appearances in the NBA, he averaged 1.9 points and 1.4 rebounds, shooting 36.1 percent from the field and 20 percent from three.
After being released by the Raptors prior to the 2020-2021 season, the Toronto-native joined the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, where a successful stint in the G-League earned him two 10-day contracts with the Indiana Pacers. After emerging as a valuable rotation piece and eventual starter, Brissett earned a multi-year NBA contract with Indiana, rewarding him after a tumultuous entry into professional basketball.
4. Jamaal Magloire
Photo Credit: Mike Cassese/Reuters
Surprisingly, Raptors fans had to wait until the 2011-2012 season to see a Canadian player take the court for Toronto in the Air Canada Centre. The player to hold this honour is Toronto-native and 12-year NBA veteran Jamaal Magloire, appearing in 34 games for the Raptors in a career that saw him suit up for eight teams.
The six-foot-11 big man averaged 11 minutes-per-game, starting one contest, and managed 1.2 points and 3.3 rebounds per game while shooting 37.8 percent from the field.
While Magloire’s stat-line is no more impressive than the previous two players in this ranking, he gets the nod ahead of them due to the fact that he was the first Canadian-born player to suit up for the Raptors. He is also still involved with the team, working with the coaching staff on skill development and serving as a team ambassador in the community.
3. Khem Birch
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The Raptors needed help in the frontcourt this past season, so when Khem Birch became available as a free agent after being bought out by the Orlando Magic after the trade deadline, signing him was a no-brainer. Toronto expected him to bring a solid presence in the paint on either end of the court, helping the struggling rebounding and interior defending efforts of Nick Nurse’s squad.
The Montreal-native went above and beyond the expectations fans had when he signed, as he averaged career highs in all major statistical categories in his time with the Raptors. In 19 games played, 17 as a starter, Birch averaged 11.9 points, 7.6 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game, shooting at a 55.6 percent clip and going 9-for-31 from three-point range in 30.4 minutes.
While Birch’s role is likely to be diminished next season with the expected addition of frontcourt options to the rotation, the 28-year-old has earned the trust of Raptors’ management and coaching staff, who will look to sign him to an extension this summer.
2. Cory Joseph
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Cory Joseph was signed as a free agent in July 2015 after a successful and formative few years under Gregg Popovich with the San Antonio Spurs, winning the 2014 NBA Championship along the way.
Joseph became the second Canadian-born player to play for Toronto, bringing pride and swagger to the floor every night. In 160 games over two seasons with the Raptors, the Toronto-native averaged 8.9 points and 3.2 assists per game, shooting 44.6 percent from the field and 31.8 percent from beyond the arc, with most of his minutes coming in a sixth-man role.
Despite a good stint in his hometown on 50+ win teams, Joseph was offloaded to the Indiana Pacers in July 2017. He’s bounced around the league a little since, most recently playing for the Detroit Pistons under former Raptors’ bench boss Dwane Casey.
1. Chris Boucher
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By now, you’ve probably heard of Chris Boucher’s inspiring story from homelessness to the NBA (if you haven’t, read our profile here). Now a two-time NBA Champion, the Montreal-native has carved out an important role within the Raptors squad and has become a fan-favourite in the process.
He posted career-highs in a breakout year this past season, averaging 13.6 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game in 60 games played, 14 as a starter. Never shy to let it fly, Boucher shot 38.3 percent from deep, paired with an efficient 51.4 percent from the field. While his lanky frame means he struggles to keep up with most bigs around the basket, the versatility he brings on offence and his impressive shot-blocking ability make him a treat to watch night in, night out.
With more and more Canadian talent entering the league, we’re likely to see this list grow over the coming years as Canadian-born players come home to play in front of a whole country of passionate fans.