The Return of Kia Nurse

While the Canadian National Team sputtered late and struggled in their third-place game at FIBA, ultimately losing to host nation Australia, this international tournament marked a significant step for the Canadians. The fourth-place finish is the highest at FIBA Worlds or the Olympics (full international play) since they took home the Bronze in the 1986 Worlds.

Veteran talent showed out: Bridget Carleton was selected for the First Team All-Tournament team. Shay Colley and Nirra Fields impressed with steady pick and roll guard play. Kayla Alexander and Natalie Achonwa controlled the glass and interior. University of South Carolina prospect Laeticia Amihere had bright flashes of her impending professional ability.

There’s a great deal to be excited about with a veteran but improving group! Perhaps nothing more anticipated in this tournament was Kia Nurse’s return to play. In the first few games, it was notable that Nurse was still getting her legs under her, coming in on a minutes restriction after missing the past WNBA season with an ACL injury suffered during the 2021 W Semi-Finals.

Over her last five games, however, Nurse averaged 13 points per contest, including a 45.8% clip from deep on just shy of five attempts per game. That patent shooting opens up her driving ability and secondary creation, making her such an intriguing player at her size and an All-Star with the Liberty back in 2019.

She’s too quick for bigger wings, too strong for many guards, and is adept at using her strength and balance to get to the line even when the basket appears sealed off (she finished top ten in 2019 and 2020 in made and attempted free throws).

At just 26, Nurse is just about to enter her prime and represents the current star power of Canadian basketball. Seeing her back on the court was wonderful, but seeing her regain her form was excellent as the tournament unfurled. 

In a star-studded 2022 free agency class, Nurse is flying a bit under the radar as an unrestricted free agent. I have no idea how to project what a deal looks like for Nurse or whether she’d even consider moving on from Phoenix, but given what she’s shown in the past and is now healthy again. I’m intrigued by how much she could help any number of teams on the wing this coming year.

Meanwhile, you can catch Nurse on TSN broadcasts this NBA season back in her native Canada! For her work in media, as well as continued promotion of women’s sports, diversity, equity, and inclusion on and off the court, Nurse has been named the first recipient of the Nathalie Cook Canadian Women in Sport Disruptor Award.

Cook is the former Vice President of TSN and has recently been appointed as the Chair of Women and Sport in Canada’s Commercial Women’s Sports Advisory Group, focusing on insights into promotion, branding, and growth in women’s sports.

Nurse will be honored this evening at George Brown College’s annual 5 to Watch event, which highlights innovators and leaders in sports in Canada.

WNBA reporter Mark Schindler writes a column on WNBA.com throughout the season and can be reached on Twitter at @MG_Schindler. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the WNBA or its clubs.