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Keeping Up With The Canadians: Checking in ahead of the NBA 2019-20 season restart

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Keeping Up With The Canadians (NBA Canada Illustrations)

With less than a week remaining until the return of the 2019-20 NBA season, now is as good of a time as ever to check in on the league's Canadians.

It's been another historic season for Canadians in the NBA. Following a record-setting NBA Draft in which six Canadians were selected, 16 Canadians were on NBA rosters on opening night, making Canada the most represented country outside of the United States in the league.

Include players on two-way contracts and in the G League, and there are now over 20 Canadians in the NBA system. Many are already making a difference in the league, whereas others are working their way up.

With that in mind, here's where each one of the league's Canadians stand ahead of the season restart.

RJ Barrett, New York Knicks

With the Knicks being one of the teams not included in the league's 22-team return, Barrett's rookie season has come to an end.

Barrett appeared in 56 games with the Knicks posting averages of 14.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.0 steals on 40.2 percent shooting from the field and 32.0 percent from 3-point range. Barrett might not be a finalist for Rookie of the Year - Ja Morant is widely considered to be the favourite, followed by Zion Williamson and the Miami Heat's Kendrick Nunn - but he has a chance of making one of the NBA's All-Rookie Teams.

Our Gilbert McGregor had Barrett on the All-Rookie Second Team alongside Coby White, Tyler Herro, P.J. Washington and Eric Paschall.

Andrew Wiggins, Golden State Warriors

After being traded from the Minnesota Timberwolves to Golden State at the trade deadline, Wiggins appeared in 11 games with the Warriors. He still has yet to share the court with Klay Thompson, who has missed the entire season after tearing his left ACL in the 2019 NBA Finals, but Wiggins logged three games with Draymond Green and one game with Stephen Curry. The way he played in those games bodes well for his future with the Warriors.

Jamal Murray, Denver Nuggets

Murray has high hopes for the Nuggets ahead of the season resuming. "We know we can go win the title," he told reporters a few weeks ago. "Me and Joker have been in Denver this whole time, working out."

As we saw in the playoffs last season, how Murray plays will go a long way in determining how far the Nuggets go. Whereas he averaged 24.1 points on 50.4 percent shooting from the field in Denver's seven wins last postseason, he averaged 18.4 points on 35.6 percent shooting in its seven losses.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Oklahoma City Thunder

Gilgeous-Alexander has played a big role in Oklahoma City's surprising success this season. He's had a breakout sophomore campaign with averages of 19.3 points, 6.1 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.1 steals per game, making him the Thunder's leading scorer.

The Thunder are one of the teams in the Western Conference that has a lot to fight for in the eight seeding games as there are only 2.5 games separating them from the Nuggets in third place in the Western Conference standings. Can Gilgeous-Alexander help the Thunder get a more favourable first-round matchup?

Dillon Brooks, Memphis Grizzlies

The Grizzlies have a lot to fight for as well. Currently owners of the eighth-best record in the Western Conference, they'll be trying to hold off the New Orleans Pelicans, Portland Trail Blazers, Sacramento Kings, San Antonio Spurs and Phoenix Suns for a chance to play the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round.

While the Grizzlies are led by Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr., Brooks has solidified himself as a key member of the team's core. His play this season earned him a three-year, $35 million extension.

Brandon Clarke, Memphis Grizzlies

Clarke was dealing with a right quadriceps strain prior to the season being suspended, but it appears as though he'll be ready to play when the season resumes. That's good news for the Grizzlies. The No. 21 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, Clarke has been one of the best rookies this season.

Luguentz Dort, Oklahoma City Thunder

Dort went undrafted in 2019, but he has carved out an important role for himself on the Thunder. According to data collected by Krishna Narsu and Andrew Patton, nobody has spent a higher percentage of their time guarding No. 1 options this season than Dort. There's a good chance he'll be the one guarding James Harden, Donovan Mitchell, Jamal Murray or Luka Doncic depending on who the Thunder face in the first round.

Dort's defence helped him earn a multi-year contract with the Thunder, which he signed last month.

Cory Joseph, Sacramento Kings

The Kings aren't the only team fighting for a spot in the playoffs, but they have as good of a chance as the Pelicans, Blazers and Spurs at finishing within four games of the Grizzlies, which would give them an opportunity to play their way into the postseason.

Joseph will be looking to help end Sacramento's 13-year postseason drought, likely starting in place of De'Aaron Fox (ankle) should he have to sit out games.

Chris Boucher, Toronto Raptors

As our Carlan Gay wrote, Boucher has proven that he belongs in the NBA this season. With the Raptors being one of the most injury-ridden teams in the league, the Montreal native has stepped up on a number of occasions, showcasing the unique skill set that made him an intriguing player entering the 2017 NBA Draft.

Should the Raptors suffer any more injuries in the frontcourt, Boucher could hear his number called in the playoffs.

Tristan Thompson, Cleveland Cavaliers

With this being the final year of Thompson's contract, he'll be an unrestricted free agent in the offseason. He's expected to be one of the better free agents available, especially at the centre position. There are a number of teams that would benefit from Thompson's rebounding and defence.

Kelly Olynyk, Miami Heat

Olynyk has a player option worth $12.2 million in his contract for next season. Time will tell if he picks up that option or declines it to test free agency. It might hinge on how he plays down the stretch of this season and what some of the other players with player options in their contracts for next season decide to do.

The rest

Dwight Powell, Dallas Mavericks - Powell suffered a season-ending Achilles injury in January. He's not expected to play in Orlando.

Nickeil Alexander-Walker, New Orleans Pelicans - Alexander-Walker hasn't been a part of the Pelicans' rotation this season, but as a rookie, this would be his first taste of playoff action should New Orleans make the postseason.

Khem Birch, Orlando Magic - Birch's playing time has fluctuated this season, peaking as high as 23.7 minutes per game in December and dropping as low as 2.4 minutes per game in the two games he played in March. With both Nikola Vucevic and Mo Bamba healthy, playing time will be hard to come by down the final stretch.

Trey Lyles, San Antonio Spurs - Lyles is out for the remainder of the season after undergoing an appendectomy.

Kyle Alexander, Miami Heat - Derrick Jones Jr. Duncan Robinson. Kendrick Nunn. There might not be another team in the league that has had as much success as the Heat at finding diamonds in the rough. Is Alexander next?

Ignas Brazdeikis, New York Knicks - Brazdeikis proved that he could score this season, averaging 20.9 points per game in the G League. Encouraged by his development, the Knicks were reportedly planning to give him an opportunity prior to the season being suspended. Will he crack the rotation next season?

Oshae Brissett, Toronto Raptors - There might not be room for him on the Raptors right now, but Brissett showed what he's capable of a couple of times this season, most notably in Toronto's win over the Boston Celtics ahead of the New Year.

Mfiondu Kabengele, LA Clippers - If the Clippers need anything, it's big men. And with little cap space moving forward, Kabengele's time could come. In 27 games with the G League's Agua Caliente Clippers, Kabengele averaged 18.7 points, 9.3 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game.

Naz Mitrou-Long, Indiana Pacers - Mitrou-Long has proven himself in the G League. Can he now make the jump to the NBA? It might be tough in Indiana considering the Pacers have Malcolm Brogdon, T.J. McConnell and Aaron Holiday - not to mention Victor Oladipo - at his position.

Mychal Mulder, Golden State Warriors - Mulder flashed his potential in a short stint with the Warriors at the end of the season, averaging 11.0 points over seven games. It'll be interesting to see if that was enough to earn him a spot on the Warriors next season.

Marial Shayok, Philadelphia 76ers - Shayok shot 35.6 percent from 3-point range in the G League this season on 7.5 attempts per game. The 76ers could use that sort of shooting in the future.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA or its clubs.

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