By Max Feldman
In today’s NBA, there are 13 players who are of Canadian descent currently on rosters, with the latest call up (from G-League) being Naz Mitrou-Long of the Utah Jazz.
Others like Xavier Rathan-Mayes (NY Knicks G-League) are making moves, and knocking on the door.
8 of the 13 players were selected in the first round of their given NBA draft. Andrew Wiggins is the only active Canadian player who was selected first overall–the other is Anthony Bennett, currently in the G-League with the Maine Redclaws.
NBADraft.net has no Canadians listed in their 2018 NBA mock draft, which you can expect to change.
The top Canadian candidate is looking like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who just put on a show for Kentucky, in a blowout victory over rival Lousiville.
Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Justin Jackson would be the next guys up. Jackson contemplated signing with an agent following a strong Freshman campaign.
Following a mock draft with a void of Canadian talent according to NBADraft.net this publication has a total of 7 players of Canadian descent being picked in the draft. Five players are pegged in the first round. Three of which are projected as lottery picks, or top 14 picks.
RJ Barrett is projected as the first overall pick in the 2019 draft, which would make him the third Canadian player to be picked first, in the last six years-a massive statement to the basketball world
Barrett will be one-and-done, following a season at Duke.
Following Barrett, NBADraft.net lists Shai Gilgeous-Alexander as the 7th overall selection (as mentioned, NPH expects this projection to change as season progresses).
The 6-6 point guard, from Hamilton, Ontario, would be entering the draft following his sophomore season at Kentucky. At the 12th pick, Shai’s cousin, Nickeil Alexander-Walker is the next Canadian to be selected. The lead guard from Toronto would be entering the draft following his sophomore season at Virginia Tech. Both are seen as high potential prospects with good intangibles and a growing skillset, with NBA ready bodies.
The next Canadian prospect listed is Simi Shittu, at the 16th overall selection. The 6-9 forward out Burlington, Ontario is headed to Vanderbilt next season. Shittu would be entering the draft following his freshman season. As a strong, physically mature big man, Shittu could be selected as a long term player with a developing feel for the game.
The final Canadian listed in the first round of the draft is Iowa State guard, Lindell Wigginton, pegged as the 23rd overall pick, but has been having a stellar freshman year.
Projected as two-and-done prospect, Wigginton would be the first NBA player from Nova Scotia, since Will Njoku, and second overall. With an impressive long range shooting prowess, and underrated athleticism the 6-3 might remind spectators of fellow Canadian, Jamal Murray.
NBADraft.net lists two more Canadians in the second round of the draft. Syracuse forward, O’shae Brissett is listed as the 48th overall selection. The 6-8 stretch four is a native of Mississauga, Ontario would be departing Cuse following his sophomore campaign. However, the way Brissett has been playing, there is a question he is a stock riser.
Rounding out the wave is 6-7 forward Justin Jackson from University of Maryland. The East York, Ontario native is pegged as the 52nd pick.
As it is only a mock draft, these projections mark the possibility of a historic draft for Canadian basketball.
With 13 Canadian born players in the NBA currently, 2019 marks the upcoming influx of Canadians to the highest level of professional basketball.
The future is bright for Canadian basketball, as the next wave will be rolling in soon.