Now that the London 2012 Games have come to an end, it’s time to look at what lies ahead for the Canadian men’s team.
Canada fell short of qualifying for London but things should be different in four years. The talent level will be much improved and the program should have a whole host of players with NBA experience available by then.
With some of the other powerhouses of the past decade from around the world seemingly on the verge of a decline, Canada may even have enough talent to make a podium run in 2016.
Of course, if the young talent is chosen to fill out the roster, Canada may lack experience which is very important in the international game.
What could The Canadian senior men’s roster look like at that point?
Top Available Centres
Joel Anthony, Miami (NBA); Samuel Dalembert, Milwaukee Bucks (NBA); Jeff Ferguson, Hyogo (Japan); Levon Kendall, Blusens (Spain); Kelly Olynyk, Gonzaga University (NCAA); Robert Sacre, Los Angeles Lakers (NBA).
It’s going to be interesting to see what direction this team will go in over the next couple of years. There are some players who have already spent time with the senior team that will add valuable experience. At centre, Joel Anthony will obviously help with regards to veteran leadership. Robert Sacre, who was recently drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers in the second round, would have to be under consideration as would his college teammate Kelly Olynyk, who has already played for Canada as well. The wild card could be Samuel Dalembert who will be 35 in four years and hasn’t played for Canada since a dispute with former coach Leo Rautins saw him sent home during a tournament in 2008.
Top Available Power Forwards
Khem Birch, UNLV (NCAA); Tristan Thompson, Cleveland Cavaliers (NBA); Andrew Nicholson , Orlando Magic (NBA); Kyle Wiltjer Kentucky (NCAA).
With the relative lack of size in the international game, Canada could play small at centre and slide one of these guys over to the four-spot, as power forward may be one of Canada’s deepest positions in 2016. With Tristan Thompson and Andrew Nicholson being selected in the first round over the last two years, they will likely be able to provide some serious muscle. But they are not the only players that Canada will be able to choose from. Khem Birch, who moved to UNLV from Pittsburgh after a rocky start to his collegiate career, was a top high school product who may be able to help the cause by 2016. Kyle Wiltjer of Kentucky was also highly-regarded out of high school but was stuck on the bench on college basketball’s deepest team. His ability to stretch the floor would come in handy in the international game.
Top Available Small Forwards
Anthony Bennett, UNLV (NCAA); Aaron Doornekamp, Caserta (Italy); Kris Joseph, Boston Celtics (NBA); Jevohn Sheppard, Leiden (Holland); Andrew Wiggins, Huntington Prep (HS).
At the moment, there doesn’t appear to be many strong options behind Boston Celtics draft pick Kris Joseph but there is a load of young talent coming through the pipeline that could develop into something special. The head of the class is clearly Andrew Wiggins, who is the son of former NBA player Mitchell Wiggins and former Canadian Olympian Marita Payne-Wiggins. All eyes are on him to see whether he develops into the greatest Canadian baller of all time. Anthony Bennett who is just about to kick off his collegiate career at UNLV was a top-10 high school player in the U.S. and is likely going to be a top-10 NBA pick one day.
Top Available Shooting Guards
Denham Brown, Olimpico LB (Argentina); Carl English, Cajasol (Spain); Brady Heslip, Baylor (NCAA); Devoe Joseph, Oregon (NCAA); Xavier Rathan-Mayes, Huntington Prep (HS); Andy Rautins, Lucentum (Spain); Jevohn Shepherd, Leiden (Holland) ; Nick Stauskas, Michigan (NCAA).
This may be the best position for Canada to let some veterans remain in the mix, as the options are limited for the moment. Andy Rautins and Denham Brown are both decent options but clearly it will be the next generation that will take this spot to the next level. Another option to get the best talent on the floor would be to shift a point guard over to the two-guard slot as there is going to be a multitude of great talents available by 2016.
Top Available Point Guards
Jermaine Anderson, Buducnost (Montenegro); Junior Cadougan, Marquette (NCAA); Tyler Ennis, St. Benedict’s Prep (HS); Cory Joseph, San Antonio Spurs (NBA); Myck Kabongo, Texas (NCAA); Kevin Pangos, Gonzaga (NCAA).
Cory Joseph was just the first of a great group of Canadian kids to burst onto the basketball scene. Between Myck Kabongo, Kevin Pango, Junior Cadougan and Tyler Ennis, Joseph will not be the only Canadian point guard in the Association by 2016. Every time you read about one of these young players the word unselfish seems to be used. Kabongo seems to be the best of the bunch but Pangos had a very impressive season at Gonzaga as well.