The FIBA Americas tournament is underway and if you’re a basketball fan, a patriot, or bored of watching seemingly endless tennis matches I suggest you check out Canada’s revamped team. Canada is 3-1, finishing second in their group and in good shape heading into the second round. If you want to check out their past box scores or up coming schedule here it is: http://espn.go.com/nba/story/_/id/9606800/2013-fiba-americas-schedule
PG. Cory Joseph-San Antonio Spurs
Cory has been Canada’s leader on both ends of the court. He plays at an up-tempo pace that favours our athletic front court and creates easy shots. Defensively, he uses his length and quick feet to stop the ball and bother opposing ball handlers. It would be hard to overstate Cory’s importance, he has simply been our best player and possibly the best player in the tournament thus far. Really, his stat line speaks for itself: 16.5ppg, 5.8ast, and 6.5reb. His only fault came against Puerto Rico where he managed just four points. Grade: A.
SG. Andy Rautins- D-League
Rautins is only 26 but has seven years of FIBA experience and provides a veteran presence for a young team. Andy is a knock-down shooter who can get hot score in bunches. One aspect of his game that sometimes gets overlooked is his passing ability. He was drafted 38th by the Knicks in 2010 because of the strides he made as a playmaker while at Syracuse. Rautins, while making open shots and creating for teammates, hasn’t provided as much offensive output as some thought going into the tournament. Andy seems to be a step slow and is struggling to create open shots off the dribble, this may be due to a major knee injury he suffered a few years ago. Grade: B.
SF. Aaron Doorenekamp- Germany
Aaron has been the surprise player of the tournament. There is nothing special to his game, at all. But he does all of the little things and never takes a play off. He is a 6-6 forward who’s game translates perfectly to international play. His game is very mens league-ish. Offensively, he will stand in the corner and knock down open shots. Defensively, he is smart on his rotations and quick on closeouts. He is so unspectacular that he fits in perfectly along Canada’s NBA starting five. Not many people expected Doorenkamp to see many minutes but Aaron has made the most of his opportunity and is now a fixture in Triano’s rotation. Grade: B+
PF. Andrew Nicholson- Orlando Magic
If it weren’t for Luis Scola, Nicholson would be the undisputed best scoring big in the tourney. Nicholson has been unstoppable, from the block or the 3-point line, it doesn’t matter. His performance against Uruguay, (18 points in 17 minutes) was reminiscent of his St. Bonaventure days. Andrew has endless scoring moves with an equally long array of counters. However, he has been hampered by foul trouble which has really hurt us, especially against Puerto Rico. As good as he is on the offensive end, he has been underwhelming defensively. Andrew has solid length and has added strength but gets beat on closeouts which leads to a lot of these fouls. Grade: B+
C. Tristan Thompson- Cleveland Cavaliers
The headline surrounding Tristan coming into the tournament was his switch from shooting left-handed, to right-handed. An amazing transition, but for people who closely followed his career, not all that surprising. As a lefty he shot 58% for his career. So far he is shooting 89% as a righty. It is a small sample size but still, 24/27 is nothing to sneeze at. Tristan is doing his regular Tristan things. He chases every rebound and constantly runs the floor harder than anyone. His only move offensively is a jump stop finished with a jump hook. It’s safe to say he lacks diversity. Having said that, he is already a very effective player with a limited skill set. If he can turn his free throw success into a mid-range jumper, watch out. If the term “Tristan things” confuses you, this will give you taste of his “skills.”
F. Levon Kendall-Germany
Levon has been a reliable rotation player for Canada. He is an experienced international player, professionally and in FIBA competitions. He along with Joel Anthony have worked well together. Levon has quick feet and a strong body that help him protect the paint. Offensively, he can pick and pop or roll to the basket and finish with either hand. Grade: B
G. Jermaine Anderson- Germany
Jermaine is a veteran guard that has lead team Canada for years. He has been incredibly valuable as a second ball handler to take the pressure off of Cory. He can space the floor with his outside shot and also drive and kick. Most importantly though, he gives Canada a guard who understands how to fight through screens and keep rotations to a minimum. Grade: B+
G. Brady Heslip-Baylor
Heslip is Coach Triano’s nephew which is the only reason I can think of why he is even on this team. It is beyond me why he even sees the floor. Heslip is a guy who is an average college guard, a guy who plays off the ball and knocks down shots. Other than that? He doesn’t offer a whole lot else. He can’t create for teammates, finish at the rim, or guard his own shadow. Sure he had a good game against Jamaica in the prelims, he got hot, good for him. The book is out on Brady, he can shoot. Other teams know this and are using bigger, faster, stronger defenders on him and preventing him from getting open looks. Defensively, teams are going right at him. Brady isn’t strong enough to fight through screens and this has led to countless open 3’s. Commentators have justified the big minutes by framing it as a “learning experience” for future FIBA tournaments. Honestly, with guys like Tyler Ennis, Xavier Rathan-Mayes, Andrew Wiggins, and Nik Stuaskas coming up, there wont be many minutes left for Brady. Grade: F.