Canadians in the NBA Roundup: Andrew Wiggins ‘would love to play’ in the Olympics

0


Andrew Wiggins was considered one of the best prospects to ever come out of Canada when he was drafted first overall in the 2014 NBA Draft. He has been playing for the Canadian national program since he was 15, leading Canada to bronze medals at the 2010 Under-17 World Championship and the 2012 FIBA Americas Under-18 Championship. 

Wiggins has also been a member of the senior national team since 2015, when he led Canada to a bronze medal finish at the FIBA AmeriCup, leading the team in scoring and being named to the All-Tournament Team. Yet he has been unable to take Canada over the hump, being on the wrong end of heartbreaking losses to underdogs Venezuela in 2015 and the Czech Republic in 2021, failing to qualify for an Olympics since 2000.

All of Wiggins’ experiences make him a key member of Canada’s golden generation — not to mention one of Canada’s best players. So when news broke last summer that Team Canada was changing their approach — announcing a 14-player “summer core” of athletes who had to make a three-year commitment in the summers leading up to the 2024 Paris Olympics — it was unfortunate and surprising that Wiggins was not on the list. 

One of the greatest players to ever come out of the country would not be playing for the national team during their first legitimate opportunity to medal in program history. And Canadian basketball fans wanted to know why. 

“They wanted a long term commitment. Right now, [my priority] is for the Golden State Warriors. I got kids. I got family. I got a life outside of basketball,” Wiggins, who has two daughters, explained after a recent Golden State Warriors practice in Scotiabank Arena. “So to commit three years to the Warriors and to Canada Basketball, it wouldn’t make sense to me… I spend the whole time [during the] season with the Warriors, and summertime I get to decide.”

.acf-block-preview .instagram-twitter-container {
width: 340px;
margin: 0 auto;
}

It was always a risk for the Canadian program to ask for a three-year commitment from NBA players, even if they had a legitimate reason to do so and precedent of a long-term commitment working in international basketball. After all, the Canadians have been open about their desire to build chemistry and continuity ahead of the 2024 Olympics, changing the culture of Canada Basketball by no longer allowing NBA players to show up at will. And they are following in the footsteps of the United States’ 2008 “Redeem Team,” who got players like LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, and Chris Paul to commit to three straight summers of training camps in Las Vegas in order to restore America’s greatness on the world stage after losing to Argentina in 2004, ultimately helping them win gold at the 2008 Olympics.

But to ask the same thing of modern NBA players 14 years later is another thing entirely. After all, it’s now more common than ever for NBA players to treat their off-seasons as highly-specific training windows, working on their games in regimented programs with trainers, coaches, and other pro players regularly. Back in the day, it was thought that taking the summer off was for the best for players. Plus, there is so much more money on the line now that players and NBA teams — who also now want oversight of their players year-round — don’t like to risk injury playing international basketball in the off-seasons. 

The reality of the modern NBA and the demands put on modern NBA players makes a three-year commitment less likely than ever, which means Canada Basketball’s new approach always had the possibility of alienating some key Canadian players. Fortunately, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander immediately stepped up after the idea was brought up and committed to the three-year plan, and many other talented Canadians followed suit. 

But not all of them. And if Canada is going to reach its potential at the Olympics and finish on the podium with the world’s best — changing the way Canadian basketball is perceived in the process — they are likely going to need all of their best players to suit up. 

And that includes Wiggins. 

Fresh off winning the 2022 NBA Championship with the Warriors as arguably their second-best player, Wiggins was having the best season of his career before suffering a right adductor strain injury on December 3rd. He is averaging 19.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.2 assists on 51/45/63 shooting.

.acf-block-preview .instagram-twitter-container {
width: 340px;
margin: 0 auto;
}

“I worked hard. I worked hard in practice, I worked hard in the summer. Just trying to perfect my game, trying to get better,” Wiggins said about his growing game. “And then being on this team, being around these guys, just learning and playing alongside these guys has been great.”

“…This group of guys makes me better. We all compliment each other. We all push each other to be the best we can be.” 

Wiggins has grown as a defender and a rebounder, doing more of the gritty work to win in the margins. But the biggest part of Wiggins’ success is due to his improved shooting, where he has become somewhat of a marksman playing beside the splash brothers Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, arguably the two greatest shooters of all time. Wiggins is shooting a career-high 45 per cent from three on a career-high 7.2 attempts per game. He is also shooting a career-high 56.5 percent from two, good for an elite 62.1 true shooting percentage, by far the highest of his nine-year career. 

“I feel like every year, especially these last couple years, [my shot has] gotten better and better,” Wiggins says. “I’m more comfortable from the three-point line, just letting it fly.”

“He’s really comfortable with our team now,” Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said about Wiggins’ success this season, his fourth with the Warriors. “He’s very comfortable with what we are trying to do. He’s comfortable playing with Draymond [Green], Steph, Klay.” 

“He’s 27, which is kinda every player’s prime where your physical and mental abilities sort of mesh — where you have that wealth of experience of playing hundreds of NBA games. You lock all that stuff in your brain and then you have the physical capacity to execute everything you know you need to execute. So it’s a good stage of his career. He’s in a really good place and he’s had a great year.”

var adServerUrl = “”;
var $el = $( “#video_container-181119” );
var permalink = $el.closest(‘.snet-single-article’).data(‘permalink’);

/*
if ( “1” == true && ‘undefined’ !== typeof window.getIndexAds ) {
var so = {preroll:{1:{1:{siteID:191888},2:{siteID:191889}}}};
adServerUrl = window.getIndexAds( ‘http://pubads.g.doubleclick.net/gampad/ads?sz=640×360&cust_params=domain%3Dsportsnet.ca&iu=%2F7326%2Fen.sportsnet.web%2FVideo&ciu_szs=300×250&impl=s&gdfp_req=1&env=vp&output=vast&unviewed_position_start=1&ad_rule=1&vid=6312749679112&cmsid=384’, so, permalink);
} else {
adServerUrl = “http://pubads.g.doubleclick.net/gampad/ads?sz=640×360&cust_params=domain%3Dsportsnet.ca&iu=%2F7326%2Fen.sportsnet.web%2FVideo&ciu_szs=300×250&impl=s&gdfp_req=1&env=vp&output=vast&unviewed_position_start=1&ad_rule=1&vid=6312749679112&cmsid=384”;
}
*/
adServerUrl = “http://pubads.g.doubleclick.net/gampad/ads?sz=640×360&cust_params=domain%3Dsportsnet.ca&iu=%2F7326%2Fen.sportsnet.web%2FVideo&ciu_szs=300×250&impl=s&gdfp_req=1&env=vp&output=vast&unviewed_position_start=1&ad_rule=1&vid=6312749679112&cmsid=384”;
var adServerUrl_result = adServerUrl.includes(“cust_params”);
var queryString=”;
if(adServerUrl_result){
var gettheDUFI = localStorage.getItem(“theRED_loc”)

if(gettheDUFI){
queryString += “dufiid=” + gettheDUFI + ‘&’;
queryString += “ppid=” + gettheDUFI + ‘&’;
var ppid = “ppid=” + gettheDUFI + ‘&’;
}

var DUFI_IP = sessionStorage.getItem(“DUFI_IP”)

if(DUFI_IP){
queryString += “dufiip=” + DUFI_IP + ‘&’;
}

adServerUrl = adServerUrl.replace(/cust_params=/, ppid + ‘cust_params=” + encodeURIComponent(queryString) );
}

$el.after( unescape(“%3Cscript src=\”” + (document.location.protocol == “https:” ? “https://sb” : “http://b”) + “.scorecardresearch.com/beacon.js\” %3E%3C/script%3E”) );

$( document ).one( “ready’, function() {
$( “#video_container-181119” ).SNPlayer( {
bc_account_id: “1704050871”,
bc_player_id: “JCdte3tMv”,
//autoplay: true,
//is_has_autoplay_switch: false,
bc_videos: 6312749679112,
is_has_continuous_play: “false”,
adserverurl: adServerUrl,
section: “”,
thumbnail: “https://www.sportsnet.ca/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/6312749679112-1024×576.jpg”,
direct_url: “https://www.sportsnet.ca/nba/video/nba-champion-andrew-wiggins-completed-basketball-dreams-whats-next/”
});
});

var adServerUrl = “”;
var $el = $( “#video_container-892410” );
var permalink = $el.closest(‘.snet-single-article’).data(‘permalink’);

/*
if ( “1” == true && ‘undefined’ !== typeof window.getIndexAds ) {
var so = {preroll:{1:{1:{siteID:191888},2:{siteID:191889}}}};
adServerUrl = window.getIndexAds( ‘http://pubads.g.doubleclick.net/gampad/ads?sz=640×360&cust_params=domain%3Dsportsnet.ca&iu=%2F7326%2Fen.sportsnet.web%2FVideo&ciu_szs=300×250&impl=s&gdfp_req=1&env=vp&output=vast&unviewed_position_start=1&ad_rule=1&vid=6312749679112&cmsid=384’, so, permalink);
} else {
adServerUrl = “http://pubads.g.doubleclick.net/gampad/ads?sz=640×360&cust_params=domain%3Dsportsnet.ca&iu=%2F7326%2Fen.sportsnet.web%2FVideo&ciu_szs=300×250&impl=s&gdfp_req=1&env=vp&output=vast&unviewed_position_start=1&ad_rule=1&vid=6312749679112&cmsid=384”;
}
*/
adServerUrl = “http://pubads.g.doubleclick.net/gampad/ads?sz=640×360&cust_params=domain%3Dsportsnet.ca&iu=%2F7326%2Fen.sportsnet.web%2FVideo&ciu_szs=300×250&impl=s&gdfp_req=1&env=vp&output=vast&unviewed_position_start=1&ad_rule=1&vid=6312749679112&cmsid=384”;
var adServerUrl_result = adServerUrl.includes(“cust_params”);
var queryString=”;
if(adServerUrl_result){
var gettheDUFI = localStorage.getItem(“theRED_loc”)

if(gettheDUFI){
queryString += “dufiid=” + gettheDUFI + ‘&’;
queryString += “ppid=” + gettheDUFI + ‘&’;
var ppid = “ppid=” + gettheDUFI + ‘&’;
}

var DUFI_IP = sessionStorage.getItem(“DUFI_IP”)

if(DUFI_IP){
queryString += “dufiip=” + DUFI_IP + ‘&’;
}

adServerUrl = adServerUrl.replace(/cust_params=/, ppid + ‘cust_params=” + encodeURIComponent(queryString) );
}

$el.after( unescape(“%3Cscript src=\”” + (document.location.protocol == “https:” ? “https://sb” : “http://b”) + “.scorecardresearch.com/beacon.js\” %3E%3C/script%3E”) );

$( document ).one( “ready’, function() {
$( “#video_container-892410” ).SNPlayer( {
bc_account_id: “1704050871”,
bc_player_id: “JCdte3tMv”,
//autoplay: false,
//is_has_autoplay_switch: false,
bc_videos: 6312749679112,
is_has_continuous_play: “false”,
adserverurl: adServerUrl,
section: “”,
thumbnail: “https://www.sportsnet.ca/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/6312749679112-1024×576.jpg”,
direct_url: “https://www.sportsnet.ca/nba/video/nba-champion-andrew-wiggins-completed-basketball-dreams-whats-next/”
});
});

.acf-block-preview .br-video-thumbnail::before {
content: “”;
position: absolute;
top: 45%;
left: 50%;
transform: translate3d(-50%, -50%, 0);
-moz-transform: translate3d(-50%, -50%, 0);
-ms-transform: translate3d(-50%, -50%, 0);
-o-transform: translate3d(-50%, -50%, 0);
-webkit-transform: translate3d(-50%, -50%, 0);
width: 20px;
height: 0px;
border-top: 14px solid transparent;
border-left: 22px solid #fff;
border-bottom: 14px solid transparent;
margin-left: 3px;
}

Wiggins is focused on repeating with the Warriors, but he holds no ill will towards Team Canada. The 27-year-old star from Vaughn, Ontario said he would absolutely consider playing for Team Canada in the summer of 2024 should they qualify for the Olympics, which they would need to do either by placing top-2 in teams from the Americas at the 2023 World Cup or by winning a subsequent last chance qualifying tournament. 

“I would love to play if they made the Olympics,” Wiggins told me. “But I won’t do no three year commitment, you know? If not — I wouldn’t lose no sleep over it if they didn’t let me. If they didn’t, that would be on them.”

At the time of the “summer core” announcement, Team Canada head coach Nick Nurse said: “If you commit you’re in… if you don’t commit, you’re going to have to hope there is a spot,” suggesting that Wiggins and others would be given an opportunity to play only if one of the 14 committed players is unavailable at the time. 

That all makes sense. But Wiggins has played for Canada Basketball since he was 15 and is playing the best basketball of his life as an elite three-and-D talent who would fit in perfectly beside Gilgeous-Alexander and Jamal Murray, and the program should seriously consider making an exception for Wiggins when the time comes. 

If they don’t, as Wiggins said, that would be on them.

.acf-block-preview .br-related-links-wrapper {
display: grid;
grid-template-columns: repeat(2, 1fr);
gap: 20px;
}

.acf-block-preview .br-related-links-wrapper a {
pointer-events: none;
cursor: default;
text-decoration: none;
color: black;
}




Source link

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.