Quotes from Day 2 of Canada Basketball’s practice at the Air Canada Center.

The Golden Generation of Canadian Men’s Basketball isn’t here yet, but it’s on the way.

With names like Tyler Ennis, Tristan Thompson, Andrew Nicholson, Kelly Olynyk, Nik Stauskas, Anthony Bennett and Andrew Wiggins selected in the first round of the NBA draft over the last three years, it’s hard not to be excited for Canada’s basketball future. At this rate, the day will soon come when Canada has to say no to an NBA player. Imagine that.

Excitement for basketball in Canada is reaching a precipice. Coupled with the recent success of the Toronto Raptors, the nation is starting to take notice, bringing newfound intrigue, and expectation for the incoming class of youngsters. It’s all about what comes next  — everyone is excited about the future.

Only, the future isn’t here yet. It’s on the way, but that’s a process. Before dreams of Ennis throwing alley-oops to Wiggins becomes a reality, they’ll first have to learn how to play and win together. It’s a process.

And the process is being shepherded along by the team’s longstanding veterans and coaching staff. The organization currently stands at a low, having failed to qualify for the FIBA World Cup this summer, but their heads hang high with their sights firmly set on the future. They’re all pulling in the same direction — towards becoming one of the best teams in the world.

They’ll take their first step starts this summer, when the Canadian Men’s National team embarks on an 11-game exhibition tour across Europe. They’ll take on five of the world’s top-15 ranked teams in Spain, Turkey, Serbia, Slovenia and Angola.

“We want to play the best competition in the world,” said head coach Jay Triano. “We’re going to learn a lot of lessons while we’re over there, but that’s what these players need. We need to learn the international game, and that’s why we’re playing these games this summer.”

“It’s all about the experience,” says general manager Steve Nash. “It’s about as good of a tour as you could possibly imagine, playing against great teams. It’s an awesome tour for these guys to gain a lot of experience and to see what the benchmark is for top-level international basketball.”

It’s not just Nash and Triano leading the way for Canada’s future stars. Veterans like Carl English are lining up to take on leadership roles, helping to walk the talk put forth by coaches and management.

English is a mainstay in Canada’s system. His service traces back to 2000, and was a member of the 2009 roster that finished fourth in the FIBA Americans championship. Although he is only 33-years-old with plenty left in the tank, English is embracing his role as the wise sage on the squad.

PJT-CanadaBball-1.jpg

“I’m very vocal. I think a big part of being a leader is keeping everybody together, keeping everybody positive – every practice, not letting things get you down,” said English. “You can be a leader on those things alone and having a positive attitude. And sometimes, it’s not always good to hear your coach speaking. If your peers hear it from you, and from each other, they tend to be more accountable.”

He also wasn’t shy to set the bar high for himself, and the future members of Canada’s team.

“I say is that our goal for 2016 is to become a top-10 team. I’m not afraid to say that the next one could be beyond my time, but I’ll be very disappointed if these guys aren’t a medal team. They’re a fantastic team, and every year there’s more guys coming. If you just take the class now, the last five years, and give them five years to grow together, it’s going to be fabulous.”

Ranking in the top-10 and medalling will be a tall task. Currently, the team ranks 25th in the world and finds themselves on the outside looking in. National programs like the USA, Spain and Argentina have set the standard for international men’s basketball, and it’s one English would like to see his team reach.

Like everyone, English is excited about the incoming crop of talent in the pipeline, and although age may catch up to him before any podium finishes does, English is more than happy to help guide the team along.

In his eyes, English envisions the team adopting a team-oriented identity, with the team boasting a strong 12-man roster. He cited the San Antonio Spurs as an example.

“The example here is San Antonio. Everyone’s talking about Miami vs. San Antonio. They beat Miami because they’re the best team, and that’s what we’re trying to be. We want to have guys – when you’re playing 10 times in 11 days, guys cant play 35 minutes. No one does that at the international level, not even the Dream Team.”

And for up-and-comers like Dwight Powell and Kelly Olynyk are listening intently, trying to learn from every experience.

“It’s really a blessing,” Powell opined. “The amount of knowledge [the coaching staff] have to impart on us is unlimited and it’s our responsibilities as players to act like sponges and soak up as much as we can. They’re really mentors.”

“Build on coming together, chemistry, build that chemistry as much as we can,” said Olynyk about the team’s upcoming tour.

But no matter the talent on the roster, ascending to the top of the basketball hierarchy will be difficult. The international game vastly differs from the NBA game, or even the NCAA game. With the prevalence of zone defense and the heavy emphasis on three-point shooting, the experience will be “eye-opening”, as Triano notes.

“For some of these guys, it will be eye-opening, to see how passionate their fans are in their countries, and how fine-tuned these teams are. Because the World Championships, in a lot of these countries, is bigger than the Olympic games where more teams participate and more teams have the opportunity to compete.”

And that’s why their upcoming exhibition tour is important. It’s about a young team getting their feet wet as they look to take their first step. And before they take the leap expected of them, they’ll have mainstays like Nash, Triano and English to help them along.

The schedule for their upcoming 11-game tour can be found here. Final roster announcements to come.

  • JunkYardDog

    For sure they will be a medal team in 2016, I expect these guys to be Team USA’s strongest opponent by 2020. With guys like Andrew Wiggins and Tyler Ennis leading the charge , what other team will be even close to them in the future besides USA ? Spain , Argentina and almost every other country is declining . The silver medal is Canada’s for the taking an possibly even gold if the top prospects develop like they are supposed to.

    PG: Ennis
    SG: Stauskas
    SF: Wiggins
    PF: Bennet
    C: Thompson

    Bench:
    Olynyk
    Nicholson
    Sacre
    C Joseph
    Others

    This will be an amazing team in a few years , there are also many great prospects in GTA that are 16 years old , USA better be ready in 2020.

    • Carlos

      Don’t sleep on Australia, with the talent they have coming through the draft in the coming years, paired with players like exum already in the nba, the future is bright for us (I’m Australian).

      • Ian

        I’m Canadian and live in Australia, so I feel qualified to comment on this comment. For the most part I agree, wiggins + bennett more or less equal in ‘buzz’ or ‘potential’ to exum and simmons. Plus both of our countries have legitimate nba caliber role players in delavadova, ennis, bairstow, olynik etc.

        I think Australia is experiencing a similar growth in talent and player development.

    • Trini

      Agreed, but you’re missing an even better big man prospect in Trey Lyles. Dude is a beast and projected to be a lottery pick next draft.

      The future is bright.

    • Jun Kim

      You forgot to put Parker. Isn’t he Canadian as well? The guy will be better than Melo in my opinion.

      • Jun Kim

        Sorry nvm, I thought Jabari Parker was Canadian.

  • Gordom

    Im so frustrated! can’t find a list of the players attending this mini camp anywhere. Can someone tell me where I can find one?

    • DDayLewis

      Jevohn Shepherd
      Phil Scrubb
      Kelly Olynyk
      Andrew Nicholson
      Cory Joseph
      Junior Cadougan
      Dwight Powell
      Carl English
      Brady Heslip
      Melvin Ejim
      Jordan Bachynski

      Source: my eyes, and more credibly, Ryan Wolstat’s twitter feed.

      • themasao

        Phil Scrubb is a supremely unfortunate name for an athlete…

        • gord mcneice

          Jut saw the list. This trip may be a waste of time and money. Seven players on this list have no chance of being on this team come Olympic qualifying and two or three more have a good chance of not making it. Why even go there and spend the money if this program is not serious about competing. I would rather see some good collegiate players go over some of these guys. How about Oliver Hanlon, Kevin Pangos (who would be better than Cadougan right now), the Mullings kid from Mexico State, Dyshawn Pierre from Dayton, or even Trey Lyles. If you going for the experience then any one or two of these guys would better serve you purpose than bringing half a team of players that have now chance of making this program in the future.

  • Chatham_Cathy

    Thanks William for the write up. But how can we envision Ennis lobbing alley oops to Wiggins if NEITHER is on the team? I don’t understand why those two and Bennett arent there. Nba team obligations ? Summer league is over. Presumably Wiggins is the figurehead that Canada basketball will hitch their wagon to. Why aren’t these guys there to gel together now ? Am I missing something here.

    • WilliamLou

      You’re welcome! I hear that their absence has to do with contractual issues. Until the players sign their rookie deals, they’re open to too much risk (ie: injury) to play. Once they have their NBA issues wrapped up, I’m sure players like Ennis and Wiggins will join the team in Europe.

      • Trini

        Any word on what’s keeping TT & Bennett off the roster? Those guys should be going, what gives?

        • DDayLewis

          Not sure. Vegas summer league just ended, so that’s probably the hold up. I’m sure they’ll be on the trip, but who knows?

          • Unknown

            Insurance related too. Canada basketball does’mt want to blow their limited funds of insurance for these guys. They do it when it counts, but apparently not this tour for the likes of AB, Wiggins, TT and Stauskus.

          • DC

            Are you trying to confuse everyone with different monikers?

  • jjdynomite

    WillLou, is it mandatory for FIBA for head coaches to be of the same nationality as the team? Just thinking of the World Cup where an Italian HC led the Russians, the German Klinsmann coached the US team, etc., etc.

    Honestly, I am tired of Triano. He was fired by the Canadian national team already, yet used that spotlight to parlay himself into being HC of the Raptors, in which his lovely 3-year record is .380 (87-142). I know he was an assistant on the U.S. Men’s Team, and is doing well as an assistant on the Trailblazers currently, but he’s such a retread. If we really want to usher in a new generation, it should start at the 2nd from top (since the top is Captain Canada, of course).

    • Trini

      Completely agree. This new generation of players needs a good, hard-nosed American coach to take us to the next level.

    • Louvens Remy

      I don’t think its mandatory. I think Dave (Super) Blatt was the Russian Nat’l team coach.

    • OhCanada

      Aside from Triano being part of the package to have Captain Canada, If USA Basketball figures he’s the man to coach the junior varsity team to international scrimmage with the big boys, maybe he’s qualified to coach our kids too.

    • DDayLewis

      Not 100 percent, but what I do know is that andray blatche will be suiting up for the Philippines this summer. So, it’s probably not too hard to circumvent rules.

  • jvuc

    What’s our weakest position (C?) and strongest (PF)?

    • Gordom

      I think that one is obvious. Fom the list above (and thats the only one I have to go on) we are weak at the PG position. Junior Cadougan looks to be the backup. Yikes! Hope this is not a complete list.

    • Trini

      For this tournament, everything. What should be our entire starting lineup (maybe except Joseph, who should start over Ennis for now) isn’t there. I don’t trust anyone except our young NBA prospects/players, no matter how much ‘euro experience’ the others have. If this stretch of games meant something, I’d be extremely disappointed with our roster.

      • Trini

        Sorry meant to say ‘for this trip’, not tournament.

      • Unknown

        KO will be more important to this team than most realize. Staskus too.
        Last years team couldn’t score. We could defend at most positions (except C) but no one could get buckets but Nicholson – especially from the wing. Nicholson would get swarmed an then force up bad shots.
        The offense for the SMNT next year will be way beeter and come from KO, Stauskus, Bennett, Wiggins and Nicholson. CJ, TT, Sacre and Wiggins will carry the D.

        • Trini

          I completely agree with Stauskas being a big piece, he could go down as one of the greatest shooters this country has ever produced..but I’m not sold on KO. At best, I see him as a situational big off the bench.

          My depth chart for now would be:

          PG: Joseph, Ennis (could switch depending on Ennis’ development)
          SG: Stauskas, Heslip (could be XRM)
          SF: Wiggins, Nicholson
          PF: Bennet, Lyles (could switch also)
          C: Thompson, Olynyk

          The 3rd stringers are a wash, as Canada will soon be at the point where the entire roster is made up of NBA players. Exciting times ahead for sure.

          • Unknown

            Hopefully KO can sell you. I am a big believer and see him as a focal point on offense going forward. I also think any teams needs a few guys fully experienced in FIBA ball (even if they are bench guys) to help the others adjust – thus I think Devoe Joseph, Kris Joseph, Jevon Sheppard and Carl English could be important to this team.

            My ideal depth chart now (assuming full participation and a 12 man roster):
            Starters:
            PG: Cory Joseph
            SG: Carl English (so underrated for FIBA ball)
            SF: Andrew Wiggins
            PF: Tristan Thompson
            C: Kelly Olynyk

            Bench: Tyler Ennis (PG), Devoe Joseph (PG/SG) Nik Stauskas (PG/SG/SF) Melvin Ejim (SF), Andrew Nicholson (PF), Anthony Bennett (PF), Robert Sacre (C),
            Next in line: Junior Caduogan (PG), Olivier Hanlan (PG/SG), Kris Joseph (SF), Jehvon Sheppard (SF), Dwight Powell (PF/C), Khem Birch (PF/C) Joel Anthony (C), Jordan Bachynski (C)

            Lyles, XRM are too young to talk about right now – we don’t know know when and how they turn out (see Kabongo, Caduogan, Birch, Powell or how many other players that have been projected as the next big thing over the years only to fall off). Lyles and XRM could certainly get there and they are part of a nice deep pipeline… Justin Edwards, Dyshawn Pierre, Kevin Pangos, Kyle Wiltjer, Jamal Murray, Justin Jackson

  • WJF

    Why does it seem like most people have Ennis penciled in as the future starter at PG? Joseph has not had a great chance to show his game in the NBA playing n a deep Spurs team with a hall of fame PG playing in front of him, but he is learning in a great atmosphere and will get a chance this year with Patty Mills starting the year injured. Don’t sleep on Kevin Pangos in the near future as well.

    Also, Olynyk is a great FIBA type center, has range, good passer, can handle the ball. He will be a great asset to the National team moving forward.

    • Ghotte

      Young. Depth. At PG: Cory Joseph > Tyler Ennis > Kevin Pangos > Kenny Chery > Phil Scrubb > Junior Cadougan
      Honorable mention: Carl English, Brady Heslip (as they are more undersized shooting guards)

      • Godson82

        The only guys on your list that have a future with Team Canada are Ennis and Joseph. At PG I got Joseph, Ennis, XaviRathan-Mayes and possibly Pangos

        • Unknown

          Funny cause XRM is a SG, Cadougan seems to be in the SMNTs plans and Carl English is probably the most important player to this team for as long as he can reasonably compete. We really need the FIBA experience on such a young team.People really love to over value unproven kids who may never turn out, over hardened, proven vets with experience. Two years ago Myck Kabongo was the next great PG for the nat team….now it is XRM?

          • Godson82

            XRM played the 1 and 2 at huntington prep and I see him continuing to do the same at Florida St this year. XRM had a minor setback with the elgibility issues but he still is one of this countries top prospects and has wore the red and white before. With Canada not participating in the world championship this summer Carl Englishs career for team Canada is coming to a close. I doubt he will be on the 2016 olympic roster if we qualify or the 2019 world cup roster. Junior Cadougan is a nice player but I see greater talent a head of him. We can get veteran leadership from guys like Levon Kendall, Joel Anthony, Cory Joseph, and Tristan Thompson. There’s no need for Carl English 2 years from now.

            • Unknown

              I still think Carl English has enough in him to contribute emensely to the SMNT. He is the most experienced FIBA player we have and we are very week at his position (at least for now). His experience and leadership would be very useful even in a bench role.
              We really, really needed him last summer (our wings were horrible) – I think we would have qualified with a healthy Carl English. We needed more scorers.
              XRM has gone off the radar the last year and I hope he has a great year – I didn’t know he ever played PG and considered him a streaky volume shooter. I have guys like Olivier Hanlan and Justin Edwards far ahead of XRM on the SG depth chart right now, but maybe XRM leaps forward this year.

              • Godson82

                Those are some great prospects as well. Triano, Nash, and Barrett are going to have some very difficult decisions in the future on who is on or off the roster and some ego’s are going to get hurt. But it’s a good problem to have!

    • Ghotte

      C: Tristan Thompson > Kelly Olynyk > Robert Sacre > Jordan Bachynski

      • Truth Teller

        C: Kelly Olynyk > Robert Sacre > Jordan Bachynski > Sim Bhullar > Stefan Nastic

        This made me vomit.

        • Unknown

          I don’t think you comprehend how good Olynyk can be at FIBA ball. Sacre could be an excellent compliment as well – he has improved allot in the last two years with the Lakers, plays very solid and can hit open shots. I see a front court of KO/TT and Sacre/Nicholson or Bennett as been very complimentary and effective.

          • Truth Teller

            Olynyk is a stretch big. Did Matt Bonner get his passport yet? Because he might as well start if you’re looking for a guy who shoots a high % from 3. Olynyk has bad close down speed to guard opposing stretch bigs.

            Hitting 3s =/= Good Fiba C/PF

      • Godson82

        C Olynk, Levon Kendall, Joel Anthony, Robert Sacre
        PF Thompson, Nicholson, Trey Lyles, Dwight Powell

    • Ghotte

      Wings: Wiggins > Bennett > Stauskas > Jevohn Shepherd
      Might even have Stauskas ahead of Bennett for balance…

      • Unknown

        Bennett is a PF in my books. I think Cleveland is finnally figuring that out too.

    • JunkYardDog

      Ennis had a really good year at Syracuse , a lot of people think he will be something special , great playmaker. Too bad he won’t even get to play on the Suns.

  • Ian

    Part of me is excited about all of the young talent we have moving forward with the national team. In years past, we had practically no NBA caliber players to contribute to our team, so I’m super excited for 2016 to see what our team looks like, and what we can achieve. By then, I would expect virtually all of the team to be NBA players, and for some not to make it. But I’m not foolish enough to think that the presence of NBA players will bring us success. I remember being much younger and thinking that same thing about the 2004 USA basketball team, that got demolished (thats probably not fair) in the Olympics, despite it’s limitlessly talented roster, because the international game is different and talent doesn’t guarantee anything; style of play, commitment to that style of play and chemistry make for winning. We have all the pieces we need to be great internationally, including a transcendent, potentially transformative player in Andrew Wiggins, along with a few young guys I’ve heard about in whispers who haven’t quite become of legal age to vote yet – but I wouldn’t be surprised if we disappoint in 2016. I’m hopeful that we don’t, because part of me wants to hold onto the blind fallacy of thinking talent = success, as I think a lot of ignorant Canadians (casual fans) will, but I know better.

    • In2020

      Don’t expect too much success until 2020. These kids need time to develop

      • Unknown

        I’ll join the realist’s thread. There is such a long way to go for Canada to be a “sure thing” medal contender. NBA role players do not equate to FIBA success. FIBA ball is such a different game from NCAA and NBA ball and will take a great deal and effort fo these kids to master (thus I think a guy like Carl English is so much more valuable than casual fans understand). Only the U.S. has enough pure overwelming talent to overcome the lack of FIBA experience. I am not sure Canada will ever have that level of talent. Wiggins might get there…K.O. could be a beast in FIBA, Stauskas might too. But after that people just assume these kids are going to be NBA stars when they are no where near there yet.
        There are loads of other countries with a huge pile of of talent and massive FIBA experience (France, Spain, Lithuania, Greece, Serbia, Croatia) and up and comers like Australia.
        I hope we get there, I hope all these kids succeed in the NBA (it would even be great if a few go off and become Euro league stars). But we are going to need a few allstar level NBA players along with a bunch of solid NBA rotational guys to even compete. Right now all we have a few NBA rotational guys, a few end of the benchers and unproven kids who we don’t know enough about yet. Everyone is young, there is potential, but there is along way to go.

  • Truth Teller

    Its Wiggins’ team now. Need to build around him.

  • ThePurpAndRed

    Don’t sleep on Sim Bhullar! How can a guy that big not be an asset to your national team. Its curious though that no NBA team has signed him yet… Pourquoi?

    • JunkYardDog

      Because just being tall does not make you an asset on a basketball team …

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j-j5AFImjDI

      This guy is 7’9 and never made it to the NBA , I don’t think he even made it to Team China.

      • The PurpAndRed

        No, but help leading New Mexico State to a tournament appearance does warrant further consideration then to write him off as ‘just being tall’.

        • JunkYardDog

          Well you didn’t say that in your orginal post , all you said was ” How can a guy that big not be an asset to your national team” so I pointed out the flaw in that argument. Now you are bringing up what he did on New Mexico. Regardless , he just isn’t very good , there is a reason why he wasn’t drafted.

          • Unknown

            Agreed with JYD. Sim played against 6’5 centers in the WAC and did not exactly dominate.
            He is BIG, and reasonable skilled, but far too slow for today’s NBA. The only reason he sniffed the summer league is because the Kings owner is Indian. They see the marketing dollars, but that is about it. Sim will make some dough, but not in the NBA. If Emmanuel Mudiay can sign a 1 year, $1.2M contract in China, Sim can get well into the six figures.

    • Truth Teller

      He should definitely have a spot. Even if hes a total scrub, he is at least a big body.

  • Guest

    “Quotes from Day 2 of Canada Basketball’s practice at the Air Canada Center.”

    Isn’t it ironic that an article about Canada’s national team has a headline with the American (mis-)spelling of “Centre”?

    • DDayLewis

      Ahh shit.

  • Pingback: Summer League,Free Agency,Kings,Scouting,Jazz,6ers,Team Canada,OKC | Basketball Intelligence()

  • FAQ

    Forget Canadian b’ball.. there are bigger issues to consider.

    The NBA attacked Sterling for his rude “blacks” remark, and is now warning NBA players not to go to the Philippines for a b’ball clinic.

    So when will the NBA take a principled stance against Brooklyn Nets owner, Russian oligarch Mikhail Prokhorov who is worth some $11 Billion courtesy of the Putin regime who are attacking Ukraine and for shooting down a passenger jet?!

    Shit or get off the pot, Silver… or do Russian RUBLES talk louder than your bullshit…!!!!

    • Guest

      The NBA doesn’t really care that Sterling is a racist , it has been a known fact that Sterling is a racist long before the tape was released. The only reason they are doing something about it now is because they have no choice and the players and staff are ‘outraged’ .

      • FAQ

        So you’re saying that the NBA doesn’t care if the Nets are owned by a Putin-backed oligarch Prokhorov and will do nothing in the face of global outrage over the downing of the MH-17 by the Russian-backed terrorist rebels in Ukraine? And why aren’t Nets players ‘outraged’ over the murderous Russians and their Russian owner? Enjoy your Brooklyn blood basketball.

        • mtads

          Um I think what’s worse is that FAQ is classifying all Russians as Putin supporters. If I am not mistaken Mikhail wanted to run for office but Putin had a lot of corruption in the government and so Mikhail put himself in the spotlight by becoming an owner. Again didn’t do too much research into this however, I don’t think its fair to put Prokhorov in the same sentence as Putin. Correct me if I’m wrong however that’s like saying back in the war of terror, all US owners in the NBA who are worth billions courtesy of the ‘Bush Regime’ are attacking innocent civilians in Afghan and Iraq. Again, I haven’t done much research however, I am sure that Putin’s biggest obstacle during the election was Mikhail gaining popularity with the Russian people. So Putin and Mikhail aren’t best buds helping each other out ..well thats my input.