As we all know, Canada Basketball is on an absolute high right now, coming off a win at the Tuto Marchand Continental Cup in Puerto Rico, a tuneup for the FIBA Americas where they look to earn a berth in the upcoming Olympic games. The talent on the team is possibly the best it’s ever been at, and if you ask me that has a lot to do with the Toronto Raptors.
The Toronto Raptors were established in 1995, when they expanded into Canada with the Vancouver Grizzlies. 1995 just so happens to be the birth year of Canadian phenom Andrew Wiggins. Canada basketball hasn’t exactly been amazing in recent years. Sure there were names like Steve Nash, and Jamaal Magloire, but the talent wasn’t exactly anything to write home about. The Raptors, behind Vince Carter, made basketball in Canada come on the rise. It was must see TV and having a real team to follow in Canada made the game popular. Toronto was no longer just a hockey town.
Basketball got more popular and 20 years later we’re beginning to see the positive repercussions of that. It gave these young ballers something to strive for. When they were older, maybe they could one day play basketball for their hometown team. And now that they are, they have that chance.
Canadian PG Cory Joseph reached an agreement with the Raptors to a 4 year, $30 million deal. That is not chump change by any means. Joseph now has the chance to play for his hometown team, the team he grew up watching. Sounds like the dream doesn’t it? Joseph doesn’t just play for his hometown, but the entire country since the Raptors are the only NBA team in Canada. Joseph won’t just play, he’ll have a key role on this Raptors squad. This is the first real big Canadian Raptors signing. There was Jamaal Magloire but, he was at the end of his career.
This could be the first of many young Canadian players who could certainly join the Raptors in the future, if they so choose. And why wouldn’t they? Toronto is getting bigger and bigger as a destination for not just Canadians, but all players in general. Toronto’s hosting this year’s All Star Game, one of the biggest stars in the world, Drake is our ambassador and Toronto is one of the best cities in the world.
The team has won the last 2 division titles while establishing a winning culture. The Raptors have often been known as a team that will have trouble signing key free agents because players don’t want to come to Canada, but if those players are already from here, it could make things easier to find a potential superstar.
The NBA’s next potential superstar is Canadian, from the Toronto area, was drafted 1st overall in last year’s draft and won the Rookie of the Year award. That man is Andrew Wiggins.
Wiggins has already cemented himself as the go-to player on Canada’s national team at 20 years old. A freak athlete who is improving at all other aspects of the game. Wiggins may be our best chance at signing a superstar in the coming years. He is currently playing for the Minnesota Timberwolves, but why wouldn’t he eventually consider playing for his hometown team, his favourite team, the one he has been a fan of all of his life?
Once Wiggins is in his prime, and looking for a big contract you can guarantee that the Raptors will be right there wanting to sign him. Wiggins would be the face of Canada’s team, and one of the faces of Canadian sports. He is currently playing with Joseph for the national team.
There is another potential all-star talent from Canada coming soon to an NBA court near you. Jamal Murray is a projected lottery pick in the upcoming draft. He will almost certainly be in the top 10 after his first year at Kentucky. Despite the Raptors being a strong team, there is a fair chance the Raptors could have a lottery pick next year from the Bargnani trade.
If the Knicks and Nuggets both stink, the Raptors could potentially land a top 10 pick. It is very possible they use the top 10 pick on Canada’s point guard of the future if they do get the chance. Now, we can’t bank on this quite yet, but its an exciting opportunity for the Raptors to actually draft a Canadian and develop him.
One last player that could be a true game changer is Tristan Thompson. A key member of the Cleveland Cavaliers team who made the Finals last season. Thompson is a fantastic offensive rebounder, and defender. He is a true “hustle” guy. For the right price, he could be someone the Raptors look at in the future. However he seems like a guy who wants big money, which becomes just a matter of if anyone wants to give it to him. Maybe he’d take a hometown discount. He played with Cory Joseph at Texas and they are very good friends. Could Tristan follow his friend to Toronto in the near future?
There are several of other notable Canadians in the NBA. Tyler Ennis, Anthony Bennett, Dwight Powell, Andrew Nicholson, Kelly Olynyk, Nik Stauskas, Olivier Hanlan, Sim Bhullar and Trey Lyles are all other Canadians currently in the NBA. There is a massive pool of talent from Canada now in the NBA. If any of them amount to being true NBA players, and want to “come home” I’m sure the Raptors wouldn’t mind having more homegrown talent on their roster.
It’s an exciting time for Canada Basketball, and it could be a very exciting time for the Toronto Raptors if they want to follow Cory Joseph back here to the Raptors. Canada’s team could very well have some more of Canada’s players in the future.