Team Canada takes the floor this weekend in two FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 qualification games which you can watch on DAZN.
With Canada on the cusp of qualifying for the tournament and the World Cup itself less than nine months away, we decided to have some fun debating who should start for the Canadian national team when they take the floor in late August.
With so many options now at coach Jay Triano's disposal, the combinations are endless. Our six experts from across the country weighed in below.
Carlan Gay NBA.com (@TheCarlanGay): G - Cory Joseph, G - Jamal Murray, F - R.J. Barrett, F - Tristan Thompson, C - Kelly Olynyk
The fun in this debate is realizing there really isn't a bad answer and when you fill out the roster you have the luxury of cutting NBA guys - that's crazy when you really think about it. Making the National team is going to be extremely tough if and when everyone decides to show up, heck even without a full complement of NBA guys the National team will be tough to make.
The guys that have helped us through the qualifying period in the FIBA World Cup process has shown that we have one of the deepest talent pools in the world, and when you look at what the 12-man roster will end up being in China for the World Cup in less than a year and at the Olympics in Tokyo the year after we have a legit shot at finishing on the podium at both events.
I can't wait for the training camps ahead of these tournaments, the battles are going to be epic. It's no longer the "Golden Era" of Canadian basketball we can start calling it the standard.
Josh Eberley Hoopmag.com/NBA.com (@JoshEberley): G - Jamal Murray, G - Nik Stauskas, F - R.J. Barrett, F - Dwight Powell, C - Kelly Olynyk
This team was a lot harder to make now than it was in years past. The talent pool hasn't stopped growing and honestly, the next era is pushing. Barrett has clearly earned next crack as Canada's MVP, he was the easiest choice.
Murray's experience edges out Shai Gilgeous-Alexander for the moment and his talent pushes him above Cory Joseph. Stauskas has been reborn in Portland and his floor spacing feels invaluable with where the game has transitioned to. Powell over Tristan Thompson, Trey Lyles, or a third wing like Dillon Brooks may be courageous but the Mavericks forward has such a diverse offensive game and plays disciplined, high-efficiency basketball.
Finally, no fancy words necessary. Olynyk has been Canada's MVP the last few years and played his absolute butt off when other, more highly touted Canadian's couldn't be bothered to lay it all on the line or heck, even show up.
Drew Ebanks On Point Basketball (@DrewEbanks): G - Cory Joseph, G - Jamal Murray, F - RJ Barrett, F - Chris Boucher, C - Tristan Thompson
You gotta go with the #6 guard Cory Joseph to start at point due to his experience, toughness and poise although you can really interchange Joseph and Jamal Murray at either the one or the two. Joseph is Canada personified. I really admire Murray's fearlessness, big shotmaking and never say die attitude. His confidence level is sky high. He's simply a gamer that you want to go to war with all day, every day.
RJ Barrett can bring up the rock when needed, creates in transition, finishes with contact and is also a threat from three-point land. His high-level athleticism makes him a very capable defender. Barrett is the Alpha Dog who's ready to be the star for Team Canada.
Some may be surprised with Boucher at the Power Forward spot but he's the prototypical new-age big in the pros. He's long, wiry, can block a ton of shots but more importantly can step out and shoot the three if left open and finishes well on the break by getting to the tin and slamming it home. Tristan Thompson still has a lot of game. He's a rebounding beast, especially on the offensive glass which gives a team extra possessions. Brings a strong leadership and backline presence to the Canucks. Toughness personified.
Jason Thom NPA Canada (@_jasonthom): G - Kevin Pangos, G - Cory Joseph, F - RJ Barrett, F - Kelly Olynyk, C - Tristan Thompson
We almost saw this starting-5 in Laval against Brazil but Barrett didn't play in that game. I have long envisioned a Pangos, Joseph backcourt for Team Canada and they were great together in that game back in September despite having only practiced a few times together. That may be due to the fact that they both have extensive history playing with both bigs in this starting five (Olynyk/Pangos in Gonzaga, Thompson/Joseph since high school).
When you include RJ in the mix, this lineup can score in transition, execute in the half court and switch off defensively without much of a drop-off position to position. Also, the international experience of this group can finally rival that of all the countries that have used their veteran savvy to beat Canada in the past.
Keep in mind, a totally different five players could end up finishing a game that these five start…that is where Canada is now in terms of depth and versatility.
Eric Fawcett GatorCountry.com (@Efawcett7): G - Cory Joseph, G - Jamal Murray, F - Andrew Wiggins, F - Dwight Powell, C - Kelly Olynyk
My starters aren't necessarily the most talented five Canadians there are but it's a group that would compliment each other perfectly and if you're going to compete with the likes of the USA you're not going to outgun them with talent, you'll need a unit with great chemistry.
Cory Joseph has tons of big-game NBA playoff and international experience that helps him be physical at the point of attack while Jamal Murray would be the primary flamethrower you base the offence around.
As much as his effort has sometimes been questioned at times you'll need the athleticism of Andrew Wiggins to match up with the world's best on the wings. Kelly Olynyk's inside-out game is perfectly suited for international basketball while Dwight Powell is the glue guy in my starting five, providing the defensive switching ability and requisite athletic ability to compete with the planet's best while balancing out Olynyk's deficiency in that area.
Elias Sbiet NorthPoleHoops.com (@Elias_NPH): G - Jamal Murray, G - Cory Joseph, F - RJ Barrett, F - Kelly Olynyk, C - Tristan Thompson
The National program has a problem, the best problem it's ever had. For the first time in history, it has the luxury of cutting guys who are currently playing in the NBA.
With this talent, anything less than a medal in the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympics is a bust. Canada is the leading country outside of the U. S with active NBA players (14), guys that are producing at the highest levels.
The list below exemplifies guys that leave their ego at the door every time they put on the red and white and play for their country. There's a combination of experience on the international stage (Tristan and Corey), young budding stars in RJ and Jamal and a versatile PF in Kelly Olynyk that could play major minutes for Canada.
The one player that will likely not start but end up getting starter minutes is Shai Gilgeous-Alexander who has had himself a solid rookie campaign thus far. Some may be surprised to not see Andrew Wiggins here, they may be more surprised to know that he may not play at all for Team Canada.
The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA or its clubs.