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Canadian Roundup: Storylines for Week of Mar 1 to Mar 7

16 mins read
Photo credit: Trung Ho / TrungHo.ca

1. Mychal Mulder’s Hot Shooting

After spending 134 games in the G league, Mychal Mulder finally got his call up to the NBA with the Golden State Warriors. After playing extremely well and even starting 2 out of 6 games thus far, Mulder has impressed the Warriors enough to sign a second 10-day contract.

A big part of Mulder’s success thus far in the NBA has been his shooting from distance. Currently, Mulder is shooting 35.6% on 7.5 attempts per game in the NBA. Take out his NBA debut where he was understandably nervous and shaky on offense and Mulder is shooting an absurd 40.0% from three on 8.0 attempts per game! And if you think Mulder’s hot shooting to start his NBA career is an anomaly, a quick look at his G-league stats will tell you a whole different story. In 2018-2019, Mulder shot 41.3% on 7.0 attempts per game. Fast forward to this season, Mulder is shooting 39.9% from three on nearly 10 attempts per game.

What I really like about Mulder’s catch and shoot game is his lack of hesitation. Unlike most young guards, Mulder shoots the three with conviction and confidence, without a second of hesitation. When Mulder’s in his spot and knows he can get a shot off, he’s going to shoot it. This sequence here perfectly showcases Mulder’s confidence shooting the ball. Wiggins throws a skip pass to the corner to Mulder. It’s a little off target and Mudler has to catch the ball over his head before immediately going into his shooting motion. Even with Barton doing a good job closing out and contesting, Mulder knew he was going to shoot this ball, even before he caught it.

Again another skip pass from Wiggins (whose become quite good at these passes) and another heavily contested three from Mulder. Just love the way he gets into his shooting motion without a sliver of hesitation.

And while Mulder is lethal from deep, he’s not just a one-dimensional player. Mulder’s got a good handle and is a pretty explosive athlete for a guy his size. Here he does a great job using the hesitation move and then check out the long strides to get to the rim. Love the way he extends his right arm out to finish around Ayton.

According to the 2019 G-League Elite Camp Measurements, Mulder has a 40 inch max vertical and finished first with a time of 10.39 seconds in the 4-way agility drill. He also measured out to a 6’9″ wingspan (he’s 6’3″ by the way). Mulder’s physical profile along with his athleticism and 3pt shooting accuracy should allow him to carve out a consistent bench role with the Golden State Warriors until the end of this season. And with the way the Warriors are constructed for next season, I think its definitely possible Mulder will be given the opportunity to contribute in a meaningful way next year as a Warriors regular.

2. Carelton’s Dynasty Continues

In the USports men’s final, the Carleton Ravens emerged victorious and won their 15th national championship in 18 years! It truly is a dynasty like no other in the college basketball world and that includes the NCAA as well.

Dalhousie played Carleton perfectly in the first half. Shut down the best offense in the country to the tune of just 24 points and held a 12 point lead heading into halftime. Carleton was stagnant on offense and were beginning to look defeated. Maybe this would be the first time Carelton lost in the championship game. Carleton’s record in the championship game was a perfect 14-0 and was in real danger of being ruined.

But coming out of the second half, Carleton was a different team. They showed why they were the best team in country by a mile and slowly chipped away at the lead. After trailing all game, senior Munis Tutu hit a huge three to give Carleton their first lead with 1:47 remaining in the game.

http://twitter.com/USPORTS_Bball/status/1236829274306490375

After a Final 8 tournament that was filled with blowouts, the championship game was everything and that much more. Maybe next year we can get some better commentators. There are so many talented basketball minds in Canada and having such a disappointing broadcast for the biggest weekend of the season is a let down.

Power Rankings

1. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

Shai’s strong play from the past two weeks has carried over into this week, mainly in the scoring department. The highlight of Shai’s week was a 27 point outing on 80% shooting from the field in a win against the Pistons. He’s becoming such a dependable offensive player at such a young age. I wouldn’t be surprised to see OKC win a playoff series and get to the second round.

While Shai’s offense has been stellar this season, his defensive intensity has slipped slightly. When he was coming out of college, one of Shai’s biggest strengths was his length and his ability to be a disruptor on the defensive end. While he hasn’t been bad this season, Shai’s defense has been inconsistent at times. According the 538’s RAPTOR, Shai is at a -0.9 in terms of overall defense, rating him as a slight negative on the defensive end. The same story can be told with Defensive PIPM. Shai is at a -0.81 this season, which isn’t the worst thing in the world.

Despite his defensive numbers being slightly down this season, Shai is such a great defender, especially when he gives 100% effort. Here on this sequence Shai doesn’t take the best angle around the screen and is a couple steps behind Lou Williams from the start of the play. Usually when you give Lou Will that much room to operate, he makes you pay. Shai’s insane length allows him to make mistakes on the defensive end, but then cover up for himself. Shai does an excellent job pursuing Lou and not giving up on the play and comes out of no where for the swat.

https://streamable.com/qn5s5

2. Jamal Murray

Jamal’s up and down season continues. I wrote last week about how Murray’s lack of free throw trips per game has contributed to his inconsistency on offense. He’s only attempted 6+ FTA in a game 9 times this season, which is just too low for a guard who scores as much as Murray does. The importance of Murray getting to the free line was clearly evident this week, especially against the Warriors He shot a putrid 3-14 from the field and was really labouring. Despite this, he was able to get the line 8 times and sink all 8 free throws. Without his trips to the line, Murray would have been at just 6 points on the night. Getting to the free throw line at a higher rate has to be the next step in Murray’s development into a legitimate first option scoring guard in the NBA.

And while Murray had some bad games this week, he hit this tough off balanced jumper to beat the Hornets. Murray just seems to keep rising to the occasion every time the Nuggets needs him. Think last season in Game 2 against the Spurs win he dropped 21 points in the 4th quarter or even his dagger in game 7 of the same series. Or think when he dropped 34 in game 4 to even the series with Portland.

3. Andrew Wiggins

This week, Wiggins has some really nice moments combined with some inefficient lowlights. It’s been like that this whole career, though it looks like he’s beginning to put the pieces together,

Wiggins looked impressive in the the Warriors upset victory over the Nuggets. He dropped 22 points on an efficient 9-16 shooting to go along with 10 (!) dimes. In a game where the Warriors started Chriss, Lee, Mulder and Toscano-Anderson alongside Wiggins, he played extremely well as the lead guy. Wiggins has played really well this season when he’s the lead ball handler and its something I would like to see Steve Kerr experiment more with towards the end of the season.

In his first game alongside Steph Curry, Wiggins was decent. Recorded his second straight double double of the week with 21 points and 10 rebounds. While he had another inefficient outing where he shot 30% from the field to end the week, Wiggins is slowly finding his rhythm with the Warriors.

This sequence perfectly displays the player Wiggins could be for the Warriors. Hangs in there against the much heavier Jokic at the top of the key. Wiggins reads where Jokic is going and steps in and steals the ball and starts the fast break. Great job not forcing the issue and dumping it off to Chriss for the easy layup. When Wiggins is this locked in he is a very impactful and scary player to lineup against.

4. RJ Barrett

Barrett makes his first return to the top 5 since the first week of the season. Safe to say, Barrett has struggled mightily in his first season as a Knick. His shooting and inefficiency woes have carried on from college and he hit the rookie really early on. Part of it was Barrett’s weaknesses being exposed, but a huge part of it was the Knicks roster construction. I don’t know why they decided to surround a non-shooting rookie in Barrett with 4 power forwards to clog the lane even more. It’s beyond me why Morris (when he was on the team) and Randle are the first option on offense instead of RJ. Payton and Smith Jr. are horrible shooters as well. He’s had a couple games where he comes out hot and scores a ton of buckets in the first half. When the second half comes along, Barrett doesn’t see the ball and gets frozen out of the game offensively by his teammates.

Here’s another one where RJ is left jumping around calling for the ball.

I mean the spacing is so obviously horrible for Barrett. Really pains me to watch him go through it. Still makes a good pass to Portis though by the way.

And despite all this, RJ Barrett has broken through the rookie wall. Since the all star break, RJ is averaging 16.3 points per game and shooting 44.5% from the field in just 29.3 minutes per game. He was impressive in a win against the Rockets where he hit this tough game winner against PJ Tucker no less.

https://streamable.com/hk5yq

5. Dillon Brooks 

The 3pt shooting was just not there this week for Brooks. Never shot above 33.3% from beyond the arc and it hurt his efficiency numbers. He’s still was able to reach double figures in all 4 games but the Grizzlies are going to need more efficiency from Brooks down the stretch if they want to make it to the playoffs.

Still despite his inconsistency shooting, you got to love Brooks for his competitive fire. He’s becoming a vocal leader for the Grizzlies and I’m here for every minute of it.

Honourable Mention: Chris Boucher

Boucher was Nick Nurse’s latest victim of the media callout. And just like Hollis-Jefferson and Davis before him, Boucher responded in a big way immediately. He recorded a 19 point 15 rebound double double in a big win against the Suns. To put it in perspective, Boucher ‘s game against the Suns was his highest rebound total of the season and his 3rd highest point total.

While I really love Boucher’s activity and motor on the defensive end and the glass, his 3pt shooting is beginning to worry me. Over his last 18 games he’s shooting a horrid 22.2% from 3 on just 2.0 attempts per game. Hopefully he can break out of this funk because he really is a much better shooter than he’s been showing recently.