Who Would you Select for your Canadian Men’s Basketball Roster?

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The Pan Am Games are a memory and the big deal for the Senior Men’s National Team is qualifying for the Rio Olympics next summer.

To do that they will need to win the coming FIBA Americas Men’s Championship.  Canada Basketball had recently announced the training camp roster for trip to Mexico later this month and there is a decidedly different look.

The NPH Family provides their take on who would make their team that would try to make it to the Olympics right here.

What does your roster look like?

Brampton, ON's Anthony Bennett. (PHOTO: Canadian Press)

Brampton, ON’s Anthony Bennett. (PHOTO: Canadian Press)

Can Ball Ray

Starters

  • Kelly Olynyk
  • Dwight Powell
  • Andrew Wiggins
  • Nik Stauskas
  • Cory Joseph

  • Anthony Bennett
  • Melvin Ejim
  • Brady Heslip
  • Olivier Hanlan
  • Jamal Murray
  • Robert Sacre
  • Phil Scrubb

 

I’m going with what I think would make the most sense, for me at least, on the international stage. I’ve seen too many years of minus athleticism cost the Senior Men in FIBA events so I’ve opted for more of that with guys that can play and defend multiple spots. All the players, with the exception of one or two, can defend either big or small at their position. Huge plus. Also, there are more than a few dynamic offensive guys on this team with lots of inside/outside compliments in different lineups. This is something that that was missing on past teams. That is the money.

You’ll notice that there is no Andrew Nicholson on my team primarily because he’s tends to become a black hole with the ball on O and almost non-existent on D. If you remember the contest between Canada and the US at the Pan Am Games he was ejected and the team overall actually played better making a huge run eventually leading to a win. So yeah, for me Nicholson is out.

Lost Invite – Olu Ashaolu/Kyle Wiltjer – I was torn between Olu Ashaolu and Kyle Wiltjer. Olu is a Melvin Ejim type that can defend true fours and still be mobile enough to stretch the D some. Wiltjer is another multi-dimensional tall guy that can post, slash and shoot. I like them both and I’d begrudgingly switch Hanlan or Scrubb for either.

 

Tariq Sbiet

Jamal Murray representing Canada well | image FIBA/ Reel Motion Imaging

Jamal Murray representing Canada well | image FIBA/ Reel Motion Imaging

Starters

  • Corey Joseph
  • Nik Stauskas
  • Andrew Wiggins
  • Andrew Nicholson
  • Kelly Olynyk

  • Jamal Murray
  • Brady Heslip
  • Anthony Bennett
  • Melvin Ejim
  • Dwight Powell
  • Aaron Doornekamp
  • Rob Sacre

Side Note – First off the bench: Jamal Murray – You can plug him in at either guard spots.

I have made my picks based on role definition, as I believe that chemistry will be vital to Canada’s success. Anytime a team is loaded with talent, players must adapt and excel in their new roles, while contributing to the team using their strengths.

The starting five was fairly easy for me to decide when taking into account the combination of overall talent and experience. The rest needed some more thought, with emphasis on toughness, roles and defensive capabilities.

My final two selections were Aaron Doornekamp and Rob Sacre as bonafide intangible providers. Doornekamp brings great toughness and grit, which will be required game in and game out. Designated enforcer.

Sacre will provide positive energy on and off the floor and assist with team chemistry.

You won’t count on either Doornekamp or Sacre to score the basketball but you will depend on them to make plays that swing momentum and bring the team together.

Lost Invite – Tristan Thompson – Canada has more than enough talent to qualify for the Olympics but Tristan is a very unique and rare player that you cannot replace. Good luck to the men that will ultimately represent the maple leaf, but IF they don’t manage to get the job done…many, including myself will certainly begin thinking “what if” Tristan Thompson was on the roster? 

 

Andrew Nicholson on the box out | Courtesy: @RonnieMexx

Andrew Nicholson on the box out | Courtesy: @RonnieMexx

Srdjan Pejicic

Starters

  • Cory Joseph
  • Brady Heslip
  • Andrew Wiggins
  • Kelly Olynyk
  • Andrew Nicholson

  • Jamal Murray
  • Phil Scrubb
  • Robert Sacre
  • Sim Bhullar
  • Dwight Powell
  • Anthony Bennett
  • Nik Stauskas
  • Carl English

The starting line up of Cory, Brady, Wiggins, Kelly and Nicholson will force teams to not have the ability to over help or double off of anyone as each player is a good shooter/can get to the rim easily of the reversal. I put Brady in the starting 5 because he has proved himself at every level as well as he will be WIDE OPEN with all the pressure Wiggins and the skill low post work of Kelly and Nicholson.

Every team needs veteran presence on a team and to provide a boost off the bench when maturity needs to be shown. That’s why I added Sacre and English. I believe everyone will be surprised how well Dwight Powell plays and how useful he is for Team Canada. He can adapt to any style of game as well as he doesn’t shy away from contact. He’s a perfect 4 man for the FIBA game.

Lost Invite – Olu Ashaolu – A player that needs to be invited to the roster is Pro-Files diarist Olu Ashaolu aka the human highlight film. After another dominate season in Japan he proved yet again that he is a man among boys. He doesn’t back off of any challenge. Putting him in the scrimmages would increase the physicality in the post and make most bigs move due to his ability to put the ball in the floor and shoot the outside shot. Also most people are scared to jump with him.

 

Melvin Ejim holds it down for Canada | image FIBA/ Reel Motion Imaging

Melvin Ejim holds it down for Canada | image FIBA/ Reel Motion Imaging

Deon Wilson

Starters

  • PG Cory Joseph
  • SG Nik Stauskas
  • SF Andrew Wiggins
  • F Anthony Bennett
  • C Kelly Olynyk

  • Brady Heslip
  • Aaron Doornekamp
  • Dwight Powell
  • Jamal Murray
  • Melvin Ejim
  • Andrew Nicholson
  • Robert Sacre

Predicting the team assembly of probably Canada’s most talented senior men’s roster has to take in account international versatility and defending and generating points from beyond the arc.

As we saw at the Pan Am games the rotation got shorter as the games wore on.  With greater talent on this roster that won’t be a factor but as roles settle out I see Brady Heslip, Aaron Doornekamp, Dwight Powell and Jamal Murray being major contributors off the bench.  Rounding out the 12-man roster will be Melvin Ejim, Andrew Nicolson and Robert Sacre.  Another possibility is for Doornekamp to slide into the starting roster as Mr. Intangible and Wiggins moving to the SG to give some serious pop off the bench with Stauskas.

Again back to the Pan Am Games I felt that Canada broke down to individual heroics to deliver success instead of combined team flow.  This can be a trap for this team as Wiggins can do major damage but really looking for the sum to be greater than the individual parts … Olympics here we come.

Lost Invite – Kevin Pangos – Kevin Pangos is a guy that could have made an impact.  His ability to shoot the ball as well as direct a team fluently are exceptional skills on the international level and are akin to what Steve Nash brought his early National Team days.

 

Odessa, ON's Aaron Dornekamp. (PHOTO: Dave Abel, Toronto Sun)

Odessa, ON’s Aaron Doornekamp. (PHOTO: Dave Abel, Toronto Sun)

 

Devin Gray

Starters

  • Cory Joseph
  • Nik Stauskas
  • Andrew Wiggins
  • Anthony Bennett
  • Kelly Olynyk

 

  • Andrew Nicholson
  • Robert Sacre
  • Phil Scrubb
  • Olivier Hanlan
  • Brady Heslip
  • Melvin Ejim
  • Aaron Doornekamp

The big three from my starting lineup are Cory Joseph, Nik Stauskas and Andrew Wiggins. Joseph is already entrenched as the floor general for Team Canada he’s now joined Canada’s Team in Toronto with the Raptors. Not much competition for him at the spot but he’s definitely earned it. Stauskas is a shooting threat with some defensive toughness will give Canada some space to breathe on offence without too much of a drop-off at the other end. Spotted courtside at Pan Am games wishing he could have played. You can pencil Wiggins in here for the next 15 years and see him in his prime in the 2024 Olympics in Toronto. Canada’s best talent ever produced will see his share of touches though it’s not clear how he’d change his game for the international style.  Bennett and Olynyk round out the five.

FYI: (Watching the end of Team Canada practice at the ACC the four aforementioned ballers were participating in white jerseys, the same colour the starters wore for the Pan Am team before the starters were named. Bennett was taking the day off for rest and his play this summer should lock this spot in.)

My 6th man is Andrew Nicholson. He led the team in scoring during Pan Am play he’ll be back for sure but might be best used off the bench as a scoring weapon with the wealth of forwards Canada now has. Olynyk should draw the start, and he balances better with Bennett.

Rob Sacre should replace Sim Bhullar as the rim-protector

Triano mentioned Phil Scrubb and Olivier Hanlan when I asked him who else does he see handling the ball. Stauskas and Brady Heslip were specifically mentioned too. No mention of Jamal Murray, which probably means the NCAA, is making him go to school.

The big question is what happens to Aaron Doornekamp and Carl English, both veteran international players who started on the Pan Am team but didn’t produce much. If all the players above make the team and Triano wants to keep this duo then two NBA players in Dwight Powell and Melvin Ejim would get cut. Don’t count on it. My best guess: Ejim and Doornekamp make the team.

Lost Invite – Daniel Mullings – One Player I’d like to see who wasn’t invited to camp is Daniel Mullings who really impressed me with his athleticism and defence at the Pan Am Games. He was left off this training camp roster perhaps because he’s nursing some injuries, but his ability to rip a steal to start transition or soar out of nowhere to grab a rebound over a smaller player will be missed.

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