How much rust will Gasol need to shake off?
Even with Toronto Raptors centre Marc Gasol returning from injury, Oklahoma City Thunder’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander will be the centre of attention Wednesday night when they play host to the defending NBA champions.
Gilgeous-Alexander made history on Monday night when he recorded a triple-double (20-20-10) against the Minnesota Timberwolves, becoming the youngest NBA player ever to record at least 20 points, 20 rebounds and 10 assists in one game. Only three other players – Shaquille O’Neal, Charles Barkley and Oscar Robertson – have ever registered a 20-20 triple-double.
Watch the Raptors (25-14) battle the Thunder (23-17) at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on TSN 1/4/5, on TSN Direct, and streaming on TSN.ca.
He’s also only the second Canadian in league history to record a triple-double. The last Canadian to achieve this feat was eight-time NBA All-Star Steve Nash who recorded three triple-doubles during his 18-year career.
In a league dominated by American talent, Canadians are few and far between. The Canadians that are in the league are crucial pieces in their respective organizations.
Take Gilgeous-Alexander, for example. The Toronto-born guard currently leads the Thunder in PPG (points per game) and minutes played with 19.9, and 35.4 respectively. He also earned All-Rookie honours last season when he averaged 10.8 PPG and 3.3 assists for the Los Angeles Clippers.
Players like Tristan Thompson and Cory Joseph, who were both drafted in 2011, have paved the way for younger Canadian players in the NBA. Both players have represented Canada on numerous occasions.
The Canadian men’s basketball team looks to have one of its deepest rosters in its history this coming summer as multiple NBA stars have committed to the team including Jamal Murray of the Denver Nuggets, RJ Barrett of the New York Knicks and Gilgeous-Alexander in hopes of securing a spot in the upcoming 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
Additional numbers highlighting Canadian-born basketball players:
* There were 16 Canadians on NBA opening night rosters in 2019-20, which set the record for most Canadian players to begin the season from a country other than the United States.
* There are currently 20 Canadians on NBA rosters.
* A record six Canadians were selected in the 2019 draft including Barrett who was selected third overall by the Knicks. The previous year saw two Canadians drafted (Gilgeous-Alexander, Justin Jackson).
* There are reportedly 150 Canadians playing in NCAA Division One schools for the 2019-20 season which is a record from the 133 that played the previous season.