If I told you 10 years ago that there would be three Canadian’s on one NBA team, would you have believed me? What if I told you that last week? It’s something that’s not easy to imagine with a country that is so focused on hockey. However, no longer can we disregard what basketball means in Canada.
After Tuesday nights NBA Draft Lottery the chances of three Canadian’s on one team became that much more realistic. With a 1.7% chance at landing the top pick in the 2014 draft the Cleveland Cavaliers shocked the basketball world as the ping pong balls once again landed in their favour. It’ll be the third time in four years the Cavaliers will be making the first overall selection and they could possibly draft their third Canadian in their past six first round picks.
In 2011 the Cavaliers selected Tristan Thompson with the fourth overall pick. Thompson, now 23, is a Brampton, Ontario native, a city just outside of Toronto. Just last year the Cavaliers shocked the basketball world by selecting Toronto’s own Anthony Bennett with the first overall pick. Once again with the first overall pick the Cavaliers could take another Toronto kid in Andrew Wiggins.
Throughout the college basketball year Wiggins was predicted to go first overall and many still believe the 19 year old will land a top the draft board when the June 26th draft hits.
Along with Thompson and Bennett the NBA has seen a wave of Canadian’s drafted over the past three years; Cory Joesph (2011 Spurs draftee), Andrew Nicholson (2012 Magic draftee), Kelly Olynyk (2013 Celetics draftee), and Robert Sacre (2012 Lakers draftee). The Canadian talent in the NBA is small, but continues to grow with Wiggins, Tyler Ennis (Brampton), Nik Stauskas (Toronto), and Melvin Ejim (Toronto) headlining the Canadian’s entering this years draft.
If the Cavaliers do select Wiggins with their first overall pick that creates a new marquee match-up in the Association. With the Toronto Raptors uprising this past season, their success has awoken many basketball fans in Canada. Throughout the Raptors first round match-up versus the Brooklyn Nets, the Raptors sold out every home game and Maple Leafs Square, just outside the Air Canada Centre was packed for every game of the series. Raptors-Nets game five reached one million viewers across Canada and that number climbed to two million in the fourth quarter of that game. The fan base for the Raptors is real and the interest for basketball in Canada is that much more real.
A Wiggins-Bennett-Thompson trio makes a Cavaliers versus Raptors game as important as a Saturday night hockey game in the Country. It would be Canada’s team versus Canada’s kids. If the trio goes from being a dream to reality the NBA will no doubt use the match-up to their advantage.
Seeing the Raptors on American Television is rare, and that’s due to their lack of success over their 20 year existence, but it’s seems the team up north is heading towards success and could see more National TV time in the States and tipping off against Wiggins and the Cavaliers only makes the chances grow higher. Imagine waking up to Wiggins-Bennett-Thompson vs the Raptors on Christmas morning.
Beyond the NBA, the Cavaliers selecting Wiggins would be the best thing that could happen to Canada’s Men’s Basketball team. Throughout the years Canada has struggled against other Nations and again have failed to qualify for the FIBA World Cup. However, it is predicted that Canada in the upcoming years will be the team to give the loaded American’s a run at a game they have controlled over the years.
It’s no doubt the trio of Wiggins-Bennett-Thompson are the core to Canada’s future and allowing them to play together throughout the NBA season could create some crazy chemistry. Not only does Cleveland become Canada’s second team, but it becomes a practice team of some sort for Canada’s National team. No longer will Canadians just tune into the Raptors, but they will demand to see the Cavaliers on their TV. Hockey may still be this Country’s heart, but give it some time, Canadian basketball is growing at a rapid rate.
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