Canada is on the move thanks to these NBA stars.
The NBA season tips off on Tuesday October 29, and this season may mark the first time ever that Canadian fans will have so much to cheer for. Canadians Steve Nash, Joel Anthony, or Samuel Dalembert have been contributing to their respective squads for years, but in the last three years, seven different Canadians have been drafted. This gives Canadians an exciting young crop of talent to watch for years to come. The fact that these guys are all just beginning their careers means that they are all fighting for minutes and trying their damnedest to turn some heads. In preparation for tip-off next Tuesday, here are the top five young Canadian players to watch this season.
Tristan Thompson: of all the players on this list, Thompson is the only one who’s established himself as a consistent, key contributor on an NBA squad. Thompson started all eighty-two games last season for the Cleveland Cavaliers, averaging 11.7 points per game (PPG) and 9.4 rebounds per game (RPG). Look for those numbers to improve this season as his game continues to mature in his third NBA season. More important than numbers though, look for his young, talented Cavs team to be fighting for a playoff berth come April, spearheaded by the explosive Kyrie Irving, Thompson, and hopefully, fellow Canadian…
Anthony Bennett: after just one season with the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) Runnin’ Rebels, Bennett made headlines across the country this summer when he became the first Canadian to go first overall in the NBA Draft. Without getting much exposure in his one year at UNLV, Bennett is still a relatively unknown talent, and his NBA readiness has been called into question over the summer. He underwent shoulder surgery in early May and has been struggling to overcome fits of asthma in the pre-season. Despite his mixed reviews, you can expect his doubters will only give him more motivation to prove that he deserves to be the number one pick.
Kelly Olynyk: while it was Bennett who stole the show on draft night, Olynyk has been the one turning heads ever since. He went thirteenth overall to the Boston Celtics this summer, after an All-American season with the Gonzaga Bulldogs, and immediately made a name for himself in NBA circles through his impressive play in Summer League action. He led all rookies with 19.5 PPG and 7.8 RPG, showing off his well-rounded game on both ends of the floor. Olynyk is a seven-footer with guard skills; he can knock down shots from the outside, beat his man off the dribble, and finish with his soft touch inside.
Andrew Nicholson: playing in seventy-five games last season for the Orlando Magic, Nicholson put up 7.8 PPG and 3.4 RPG for a Magic squad that only won 20 games. Without adding any significant pieces to last year’s roster, Orlando will continue to struggle this year, but look for Nicholson to get his career going as he fights for a consistent starting spot and continues to hone his raw talent. After all, he never started playing the game till he was in the eleventh game.
Cory Joseph: playing behind Tony Parker, San Antonio Spurs’ point guard Cory Joseph isn’t going to be fighting for a starting spot this season. But after an incredible showing with Team Canada at The International Basketball Association Americas this summer, Joseph appears ready to take his game to the next level. Based on the Spurs’ system of developing talent from within their organization, Joseph could spend the next few years learning from Parker, hopefully being groomed to someday take over the reins if the thirty-one year old Parker ever starts slowing down.