The Future Of Team Canada
Although hockey is and will remain the number one sport and religion in Canada, United States’ basketball influence has found its way up north. Canadian Prep Schools are becoming more popular and competitive and they are beginning to develop elite talent. Canada has become a nice pipeline for schools like Gonzaga, Syracuse, Texas and more. I wouldn’t say they really play any different from Americans, but these first-rate Canadian players seem to be coming into the collegiate ranks by the boatload (carload is probably more appropriate). This year they have the number one recruit in Andrew Wiggins, a potential top-5 draft pick in Anthony Bennett, along with established college basketball players like Kevin Pangos, Nik Stauskas, Dwight Powell and Kyle Wiltjer. The point is their future is brighter than ever. And with the Olympics just far enough away for these guys to develop, Team Canada can become gold-medal dangerous.
By 2016, some of these guys like Tristan Thompson (Cavs), Robert Sacre (Lakers), Andrew Nicholson (Magic), Cory Joseph (Spurs), and Kris Joseph (Nets) might have gotten enough experience to be considered veteran leaders. It’s important to note that Sacre is already a fantastic veteran cheerleader. But the true veterans, although they’re not the most talented, are the older big guys Joel Anthony and Jamaal Magloire. I don’t expect them to make the team, but during training they’ll by far have the most experience out of anybody, and they’ll be able to at least help develop the younger guys while they can. Another potential vet is Aaron Doornekamp, but the European-playing Canadian will get pushed out by some of these much younger and exciting players. These veterans, along with general manager of the team Steve Nash, will be essential for the team’s training and development. I know it’s not the same talent, but if Team Canada can similarly offer prospects what Team USA did for Anthony Davis then they can help mold a NBA foundation like they’ve never had before.
2013 NBA Rookies
This year has to be the most exciting Canadian draft in NBA history. Not like I would know, but I imagine it is. They have two lottery picks in UNLV’s Anthony Bennett and Gonzaga’s Kelly Olynyk. As much as they’ll impact their team immediately you can probably double that for their role with Team Canada. By 2016 both of these guys can be huge contributors, especially Bennett who has the potential to become a right-handed Lamar Odom/Paul Millsap hybrid if he gets faster. Later in the draft, most likely early second round, they might have a sleeper in Longhorns’ Myck Kabongo. If he makes the team I see Kabongo working as the backup PG. They also have Junior Cadougan (Marquette) and Devoe Joseph (Oregon) who will most likely get undrafted, but will be signed after.
Andrew Wiggins & College Prospects
So far they have some talent in the NBA and more help coming this season, but it’s the talent in the college ranks that points to a medal. Earlier I said this year’s draft is the most exciting, but compared to next draft, it’s nothing. First and foremost they have absolute super-duper phenom Andrew Wiggins, who is known to be as the best prospect since Kevin Durant or Lebron James depending who you’re talking to. Wiggins will be starting and starring at Kansas next year, and is already labeled as the number one pick in the 2014 Draft. As of now his legend is a lot of hype, but keep in mind Team Canada has never had hype. If all pans out…loonie and toonie Jackpot (that’s Canadian currency)! But even without Wiggins (who decided he’s not playing for Team Canada for this summer), they still have some serious weapons. Michigan’s 3-Point specialist Nik Stauskas can easily become their starting shooting guard. Kentucky’s Kyle Wiltjer has produced despite being shadowed in NBA scoring talent, and he will continue to produce and become a great role player for Canada. They have Kevin Pangos from Gonzaga, who I believe will become the starting point guard with GM Steve Nash as his mentor. Stanford’s Dwight Powell completely broke out this season and is poised to be one of the best players in the Pac-12 this upcoming season. Khem Birch will take the reins from Anthony Bennet at UNLV, and analysts will tab him for a breakout year. They also have some under the radar guys like Brady Heslip, three-point sharp shooter from Baylor, Justin Edwards, one of my favorite shooting guard transferring from Maine to Kansas State to prove himself, Dyshawn Pierre, an athletic and active starter from Dayton, Laurent Rivard, a great leader at Harvard, and Braeden Anderson, a potential gem for Fresno State. On top of all this, they have an extremely talented point guard heading to Syracuse in Tyler Ennis, and in the following class they have highly-touted recruit Jordan Lyles who received offers from Duke, Kentucky, Florida, UCLA and Louisville.
It’s going to be extremely hard to limit this team to 12 guys. Of course we have no idea how everybody will or will not develop, but I can promise you that Team Canada will be in Brazil ready to compete. I’m not sure if they’ll have the experience to beat the United States or Spain, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they become one of the top teams, especially if the U23 rule comes into play.
As of now, this how I see the team shaping up (not with potential U23 rule)
PG Kevin Pangos
SG Nik Stauskas
SF Andrew Wiggins
PF Tristan Thompson
C Kelly Olynyk
PG Tyler Ennis
SG Justin Edwards
SF/PF Anthony Bennett
PF Trey Lyles
PF Kyle Wiltjer
PF/C Andrew Nicholson
PF/C Dwight Powell
I know it seems like there’s too many power forwards on this team and not enough wings, but I think they’ll have enough scorers that rebounding and defending the paint will have to become their priority. Feel free to post what you think their team will or should be.