TORONTO, Ont. (May 12, 2021) - The 2021 WNBA season tips-off tomorrow night and there will be three Canadians on opening night rosters for the league’s much anticipated 25th year.
There was plenty of movement in the offseason via free agency and trades as several Canadians find themselves in new surroundings with championship contenders.
Natalie Achonwa, who had spent her entire WNBA career in Indiana after being selected 9th overall in 2014 by the Fever, joined the Minnesota Lynx in the offseason during free agency. Achonwa, a native of Guelph, ON, is averaging 7.7 points and 4.5 rebounds per game over the course of her six seasons in the league. The 6’3” forward/centre is coming off a championship run with Beretta Famila Schio in Italy and is looking to make an instant impact for a Lynx team in search of their fifth WNBA title and first since 2017.
She has spent 10 years with Canada, appearing in 101 games during her career and is set to appear in her third Olympic Games later this summer in Tokyo.
Achonwa will be joined in Minnesota by a friendly Canadian face as Bridget Carleton is looking to pick back up where she left off in the Wubble last season. The 6’1” guard from Chatham, ON averaged career-bests across the board with 6.5 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.5 assists last year in 26 games with the Lynx. Carleton spent four years with the Iowa State Cyclones and in her senior season smashed several school records on her way to Big 12 Player of the Year honours.
Since making her Team Canada debut at the 2013 FIBA U16 Americas Championship for Women, Carleton has represented the red and white every year and most recently helped Canada secure a Tokyo 2020 berth at the FIBA Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament last February in Ostend, Belgium.
With the New York Liberty rebuilding, Canadian guard and WNBA All-Star Kia Nurse was traded to the Phoenix Mercury in the offseason and will be a key piece of one of the most formidable starting fives in the league. Last season with the Liberty, Nurse averaged a team-best 12.2 points per game, 2.9 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game over a team-high 27.5 minutes per game. She was also voted a starter in the 2019 WNBA All-Star game, making her just the third Canadian to play in the All-Star Game.
Originally from Hamilton, ON, Nurse has represented Canada in each of the past 10 years and will be returning to the Olympic Games in July after making her debut in Rio in 2016.
Due to the ongoing pandemic and the Olympic break, instead of the originally planned 36 games, the 2021 regular season will see each team play 32 games – 16 at home and 16 on the road. Each team will play three games apiece versus 10 opponents, and two games – one home and one away – against one team from the opposite conference. The regular season, currently scheduled to conclude on Sunday, Sept. 19 and be followed by a traditional playoffs and Finals format, will include a break from July 15 through Aug. 11.
Achonwa, Carleton and Nurse will be unavailable to represent Canada for the FIBA Women’s AmeriCup 2021, but will join the team later this summer in Japan ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Earlier this week, it was announced that more than 50 live WNBA games will be available in Canada throughout the 2021 season, including No. 1 overall 2020 draft pick, Sabrina Ionescu, and the New York Liberty hosting the Indiana Fever on Sportsnet ONE and SN NOW (7 p.m. ET) on Friday night, followed on Saturday by the defending WNBA Champions, Seattle Storm as they host the Las Vegas Aces on Sportsnet ONE and SN NOW (3 p.m. ET).
The Canadian WNBA broadcast schedule can be found at NBA.ca.
The WNBA’s landmark 25th season will see new elements and activations, including a special edition commemorative logo, new Nike uniforms, new Wilson game ball, and the launch of the new in-season competition, the Commissioner’s Cup.
2021 CANADIAN WNBA PLAYERS
<table border="0" cellspacing="0"><tbody><tr><td><p> </p></td><td><p> <strong>NAME</strong></p></td><td><p><strong>AGE</strong></p></td><td><p><strong>2019-20 TEAM / STATS</strong></p></td><td><p><strong>CURRENT TEAM</strong></p></td></tr><tr><td><p><img alt="" style="width: 120px; height: 120px;" src="https://ak-static.cms.nba.com/wp-content/uploads/headshots/wnba/203831.png"></p></td><td><p><strong>NATALIE ACHONWA</strong></p></td><td><p>28</p></td><td><p>Indiana Fever </p><p> </p><p>7.8 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 1.7 APG</p></td><td><p>Minnesota Lynx</p></td></tr><tr><td><p><img alt="" style="width: 120px; height: 120px;" src="https://ak-static.cms.nba.com/wp-content/uploads/headshots/wnba/1629524.png"></p></td><td><p><strong>BRIDGET CARLETON</strong></p></td><td><p>23</p></td><td><p>Minnesota Lynx</p><p> </p><p>6.6 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 2.5 APG</p></td><td><p>Minnesota Lynx</p></td></tr><tr><td><img alt="" style="width: 120px; height: 120px;" src="https://ak-static.cms.nba.com/wp-content/uploads/headshots/wnba/1628915.png"></td><td><p><strong>KIA NURSE</strong></p></td><td><p>25</p></td><td><p>New York Liberty</p><p> </p><p>12.2 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 2.3 APG</p></td><td><p>Phoenix Mercury</p></td></tr>