ATLANTA

The Rise of Canadian Basketball

Canada has produced NBA players, All-Stars, MVPs, Champions and

Photo Courtesy of Chad Hipolito/CP

Canada has produced NBA players, All-Stars, MVPs, Champions and now they can claim one of their cities as NBA Champions. A Canadian even produced the game we know as basketball. They have been big part of basketball history, and they will only become a bigger part of basketball History.

Most players who end up NBA champions are from the United States. Outside the United States, most NBA champions are produced from up north. 14 NBA champions have come from Canada. Those include Rick Fox and Bill Winnington, who combined for six of the 14. Joel Anthony, Chris Boucher, and Mike Smrek have combined for another six, with Cory Joseph and Tristan Thompson taking the last two of the 14.

Arguably the biggest star to come from Canada and play in the NBA is Steve Nash. Nash is an eight-time All-Star and a two time MVP. Nash is arguably one of the best players to never win a championship. Nash had memorable playoff runs with Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks. He was part of a blockbuster trade that teamed Nash up with Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant with the Los Angles Lakers, but Nash is most known for his time in Phoenix with the seven seconds or less Suns.

During Nash’s time with the seven seconds or less Suns, he changed how the point guard position was played. He and the Suns came in loose and pushed the pace and played free, getting open threes and attacking the defense from the outside with pick-and-rolls. In the NBA today, the modern offense is built on these principals, you have a ball dominant guard, the rest of the team is spreading the floor with an emphasis on getting the ball and pushing the pace. Some examples are the Golden State Warriors, the Sacramento Kings and the soon to be rising Atlanta Hawks.

Canadian Tristan Thompson once formed one of the most dominant rebounding duos with Kevin Love when playing with Lebron James in Cleveland. Now Canadian Jamal Murray is making one of the most promising young duos in the NBA with Nikola Jokic. Canada native Andrew Wiggins was the number one overall pick back in 2014.

There are currently 21 players that are in NBA from Canada, six of them were chosen in the 2019 NBA draft. The most ever in one draft. The highest drafted player was RJ Barrett at the number three overall pick with three more coming in the first round. The lowest drafted player was Marial Shayok at the number 54 overall pick with another player coming in the second round.

Barrett is expected to help turn around one of the NBA’s historic franchises in the New York Knicks and make them into NBA champions again. While Nickel Alexander-Walker the number 17 pick will join the rookie sensation Zion Williamson with the New Orleans Pelicans. Brandon Clarke, the number 21 pick, will join fellow rookie Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr. in forming a young core with a lot of potential with the Memphis Grizzlies. While Mfiondu Kabengele, the number 27 pick, will join a young rising team led by Doc Rivers in the LA Clippers.

Now with the hire of Nick Nurse to lead the Canadian national team as the head coach, there is now a high level of talent on the coaching staff and not just the players. Nurse brings NBA championship experience with the Toronto Raptors and FIBA basketball experience when he was an assistant coach for the Great Britain national team from 2009-12.

If Canada can get everyone to play, they could have a starting lineup of Murray, Barrett, Wiggins, Dwight Powell, and Thompson. With players like Nik Stauskas, Marial Shayok, Kelly Olynyk, Naz Mitrou-Long, Trey Lyles, Kabengele, Joseph, Justin Jackson, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Luguentz Dort, Clarke, Dillon Brooks, Ignas Brazdeikis, Chris Boucher, Khem Birch or Alexander-Walker to fill the bench.

Whoever they get, whatever happens. Basketball in Canada will produce amazing talent and better and better talent as time goes on. They compete for NBA championships and now possibly be in the running for gold medals in FIBA cups and the Olympics for years to come.

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