Oh, Canada! If you do not count the Toronto Huskies who played one season in the NBA precursor, the Basketball Association of America, there have only ever been two NBA teams in Canada and one of them lasted a mere six years before heading south to Memphis. The Vancouver Grizzlies and the Toronto Raptors came into the league together in the 1995 NBA expansion. The teams have not had many highlights outside of the Vince Carter years in Toronto, and the current DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry era, and maybe if you want to stretch it, 1997-98 when Bryant “Big Country” Reeves had his best season and the Grizzlies avoid finishing last in their division for the first and only time. On the other hand, the teams have had a plenty of low-lights and of course a lot of bad NBA players have graced their rosters. Here is the list of the 20 worst NBA players who played in Canada.
20. Greg Stiemsma – Raptors
After averaging less than four points per game every year at the University of Wisconsin and then going undrafted at the 1998 NBA Draft, Greg Stiemsma went to Turkey, South Korea, and then Sioux Falls South Dakota before finally getting a shot with the Minnesota Timberwolves in the 2010 Summer League but never made it into a game. After another jaunt through Eastern Europe, Steimsma had another shot and finally cracked into the NBA when he was picked up by the Boston Celtics in 2011. After one season in Boston, Minnesota, and New Orleans he signed with the Toronto Raptors in 2014. He did manage to finally average 4.0 points per game during his season in Minnesota, but that was the highlight of his carrier.
19. DeJuan Wheat – Grizzlies
As a star at the University of Louisville, DeJuan Wheat was the first player in NCAA history to rack up over 2000 points, 300 three-pointers, 450 assists, and 200 steals over his four years playing for the Cardinals. As a senior he was named honorable mention All-American and lead Louisville to the Elite Eight of the 1997 NCAA tournament. He was chosen by the Los Angeles Lakers with the 51st overall pick of the 1997 NBA Draft but ended up with the Minnesota Timberwolves. After a season of minimal playing time, Wheat signed as a free agent with the Vancouver Grizzlies in 1999. Wheat played in 46 games and averaged 4.5 points per game with the Grizzlies but did not return to the NBA and bounced around a variety of minor leagues for the next few years before retiring in 2010.
18. Ben Uzoh – Raptors
After four years playing for the Tulsa Golden Hurricane, Ben Uzoh went undrafted in the 2010 NBA Draft but ended up being signed by the New Jersey Nets as a free agent. He played in about half the games that season for the Nets and also saw some time in the D-League. In 2012, after playing two games in the Russian League, he was signed by the Toronto Raptors. His career highlight came in April of that season when he put up a triple-double against the New Jersey Nets. It was the first triple-double by a Raptor in over a decade. The following year he failed to make the roster of the Denver Nuggets and shuffled around the D-League for the next few seasons.
17. John Thomas – Raptors
As a member of the Minnesota Golden Gophers, John Thomas helped lead the team, as its captain, to the 1997 NCAA Final Four. Thomas was then drafted with the 25th pick of the draft by the Knicks and ended up in Canada after some time with the Boston Celtics. Thomas only lasted two years in Toronto before hitting the international circuit with appearances in the Dominican Republic, Spain, and China as well as the NBA D-League. He made his way back to the NBA for the Timberwolves and also played for the Memphis Grizzlies, Hawks and Nets before slipping out of the NBA and back into various international basketball leagues.
16. Ivano Newbill – Grizzlies
Although it sounds a little like the sort of name Bart Simpson would use in a prank call to Moe’s Tavern, Ivano Newbill was actually a real live NBA player. Well, maybe not even that as he averaged less than two points per game combined over three seasons in the league. After playing his college ball for the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Newbill went undrafted in the 1994 NBA Draft but was signed as a free agent by the Detroit Pistons. He played in Detroit for a year as well as for the Atlanta Hawks before ending up with the Vancouver Grizzlies. He did manage to top two points per game over 28 games in his final season in the league.