In the last couple of years, Canada has been responsible for providing the NBA with some of its top talent, and it seems the 2020 draft will carry on this new-fledged tradition. With a number of incredible freshmen players incoming, it looks set to have another season to rival 2019.
The 2019 draft arguably marked a turning point for Canadian basketball. With six home-grown stars selected, including Duke’s phenomenal and much-sought-after RJ Barrett, as reported by Forbes, and a further three players signed after the event, the class of 2019 delivered the most remarkable NBA season. However, they have a lot to live up to as some of their fellow compatriots were in fine form.
One of the biggest names of the year was the insanely good Jamal Murray, who put in a truly explosive performance during the playoffs. Not to be outdone, Luguentz Dort immediately turned himself into a household name with his 30-point performance against the Houston Rockets, while Shai Gilgeous-Alexander also shone on court.
Though only three Canadians are entered in this year’s draft, insiders say that the selection process could easily prove as exciting as it did in 2019.
The changing fortunes of Canadian basketball
While basketball has never been neglected by Canadian audiences, it’s fair to say that the sport has always shone more brightly in America, with most of its household names harking from the United States. In recent years, however, this has begun to change, with a slew of Canada’s rising stars exploding onto the scene and much-increased audience interest.
This trend has extended not only to the game itself, but the entertainment industry surrounding the sport, with a series of sell-out video games released, such as NBA 2K21, as well as a number of basketball-themed slots, with review sites such as Bonus.ca enabling customers to find the best fit for them. What this reflects, quite simply, is that more Canadians are not only playing basketball in the big leagues, but watching, betting on, and enjoying basketball-themed entertainment too.
Those with an interest in the game will therefore be gladdened to hear that 2020 does not look likely to buck this trend, with three Canadians entered in this latest draft: Nate Darling of Delaware, SMU’s Isiaha Mike, and Karim Mané from Vanier College.
While the assistant general manager at Toronto Raptors, Dan Tolzman, acknowledges that these numbers do not quite compare to 2019, he nonetheless notes that there are some very interesting Canadian names coming up through the ranks, and that with the right development programs in place, these very much have the potential to turn into top NBA players.
As well as the three players that will participate in this year’s NBA Draft, there are also some incredible individuals who look set to be selected for 2021. Currently freshmen, these include among them Oklahoma State’s Matthew Alexander-Moncrieffe.
Fresh from Orangeville Prep, a program which has produced six NBA players to date, Alexander-Moncrieffe is the epitome of an out-and-out athlete, measuring in at six foot seven tall and 195 pounds, per NBA Draft Room. Holder of the 2019 BioSteel Canadian Player of the Year award, he looks like a shoo-in for the next NBA Draft.
Most likely joining him will be Bennedict Mathurin from Arizona, a former member of the NBA Academy in Mexico. Coming in at the same weight and just an inch shorter than Moncrieffe, he has been described as a relentless attacker, with all the tools necessary for college-level success.
Also worth keeping an eye on is Josh Primo, who’s all set to head down to Alabama next season. A fleet-footed six foot six, he seems like the perfect complement for the team’s notoriously fast-paced offensive, and is likely to shine on court.
How do you think Canada will fare in this year’s NBA Draft?