Basketball. © Can Stock Photo / zimmytws

A record number of Canadians taken in NBA Draft

Canada was well-represented in the 2019 NBA Draft.

Six Canadian players were drafted by NBA teams during the two rounds of the draft, held Thursday night in Brooklyn, New York. The six players shattered the record of four Canadians taken during the 2014 Draft.

The country’s draft performance is a proud moment for Canadian basketball, according to Ron Grunwald, president and CEO of Canada Basketball.

“The game has never been stronger in our country and if everyone in the basketball community continues to work together and align their efforts, basketball will continue to experience sustained growth for years to come,” said Grunwald in a media release early Friday morning.

Rowan Barrett, general manager of Canada’s men’s senior team, said the draft results were the culmination of years of hard work.

“With a record number of Canadians selected in the 2019 NBA Draft, this exemplifies our players reaching for the highest levels in the sport.  This growth has not happened overnight and is the result of many years of planning, programming and winning,” said Barrett.

The six Canadian players drafted Thursday night are:

  • R.J. Barrett, taken third overall by the New York Knicks. The Mississauga native played his college ball at Duke and is the highest-drafted Canadian player since Andrew Wiggins went first overall in 2014. He was a consensus All-American this season, averaging 22.6 points per game.
  • Nickeil Alexander-Walker, drafted 17th overall by the host Brooklyn Nets but his rights were traded to the New Orleans Pelicans. Originally from Toronto, Alexander-Walker averaged 13.5 points per game and four rebounds a game over two seasons at Virginia Tech.
  • Brandon Clarke, taken 21st overall by the Oklahoma City Thunder, but will likely be traded to the Memphis Grizzlies. From Vancouver, Clarke played one season of college hoops at Gonzaga, averaging 16.9 points per game last season. He had sat out the season before due to transferring from San Jose State.
  • Mifiondu Kabengele was drafted 27th overall by the Nets, but his rights were traded to the Los Angeles Clippers. Kabengele played two seasons at Florida State and was named the ACC Sixth Man of the Year following this season. He is from Burlington.
  • Ignas Brazdeikis was taken 47th overall by the Sacramento Kings. Born in Lithuania, he eventually settled with his family in Oakville. In his freshman year at Michigan, Brazdeikis was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year, averaging 14.8 points per game. His rights have been traded to the Knicks.
  • Marial Shayok, from Ottawa, was drafted 54th overall by the Philadelphia 76ers. He originally played college ball at Virginia but transferred to Iowa State. In his lone season there, he averaged 18.7 points per game and 4.9 rebounds per game.

The first Canadian drafted into the NBA was Leo Rautins, the first of three taken in the 1983 Draft, by the 76ers. He has been the television colour commentator for the world-champion Toronto Raptors since 1995.