Coming off a convincing win against team USA at the Pan Am Games gives a lot of people hope for the Canadian Olympic squad (They play Brazil for the gold a few hours from the time I am writing this, and are favored to win). Obviously there will be much tougher competition, but with all the great Canadian NBA talent, Canada certainly should have great expectations. Here is the ideal roster for Canada, most of these are young players still looking to prove themselves, so barring injuries, most of them probably will commit to playing internationally.
PG – Cory Joseph, Tyler Ennis
Cory Joseph is a somewhat proven NBA player, while Tyler Ennis still have some work to do at the NBA level, however, both are serviceable point guards.
SG – Nik Stauskas, Jamal Murray
Stauskas can shoot the basketball, and at 6’6 has some height for a SG, his shooting will really space the floor and get some of the defensive concentration off of Wiggins. Jamal Murray impressed at the PG position in the Pan Am Games, however, Canada is short on wings, so as he is probably the best shooter out of the PGs and is 6’5 he will probably have to share some time at 1 and the 2.
SF – Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett
Wiggins is the star player on the Canadian roster, expect him to get at least 20 points a game. Since Canada is fairly stacked at the PF position, expect Bennett to spend most of his time at the 3 (Or they could play small, have Bennett at PF and Tristan Thompson at C). His recent weight loss and his peak physical condition will probably allow this at the Olympic level, the 3s he can’t keep up with he will greatly overpower.
PF – Tristan Thompson, Trey Lyles, Andrew Nicholson
Tristan Thompson is probably right now the 2nd biggest name in Canadian basketball, he proved himself in the finals last year to be a great Power Forward at any level, he could also potentially play Center. Andrew Nicholson did great at the Pan Am games, and Trey Lyles has lots of potential. There are no problems at the PF position.
C – Kelly Olynyk, Sim Bhullar, Robert Sacre
Bhullar is huge, but he probably can’t play 40 minutes of basketball, expect Olynyk to eat up a lot of the minutes, Sacre will probably play some, and maybe some small rotations will have some of the players I listed as PF at the Center position.
I may be biased, but I doubt any country other than the US will put up a roster that rivals this one. The biggest knock against this squad would be inexperience at the international level. Argentina may be giving up their spot as an elite International team with Ginobili, Scola and Prigioni all aging. France will certainly pose a challenge, since at their best they have Tony Parker, Nando De Colo, Evan Fournier, Boris Diaw and Rudy Gobert, but the depth and youth of the Canadian squad will hopefully push them ahead of France.
It would obviously take an upset to beat the US team, but with this roster there definitely is an outside chance. Perhaps in 2020 when these players are all in their primes we will have an even better shot at gold. Either way, assuming most of these players commit to play, it should be a great Olympic squad to watch!
Honorable Mentions: Joel Anthony, Samuel Dalembert, Olivier Hanlan, Brady Heslip, Melvin Ejim (Lots of HM’s because there are lots of great Canadian players)