NBA Draft 2022: four Canadian players invited to the NBA Draft Combine 2022

As the NBA playoffs draw to a close, fans’ attention is beginning to shift ever so slightly to the upcoming 2022 NBA Draft, where the next generation of NBA players will be chosen by their new teams.

On May 17, the NBA held the Draft Lottery, which determined the order in which teams will choose players. This year, the Orlando Magic will have the number one pick, followed by the Oklahoma City Thunder, Houston Rockets and Sacramento Kings in the top four.

Toronto Raptors fans surely remember last season when Toronto had the number four pick. After LOTS of speculation on who they should choose, the Raptors selected Scottie Barnes with that fourth place finish. As we all know, he became the rookie of the year.

So basically anything can happen on Draft Night.

If you’re unfamiliar with how the NBA Draft works, scouts and analysts will typically create “dummy drafts” based on the top prospects entering the NBA that year. Depending on the teams’ choices, they will meet and interview certain players to see how they would fit into the team.

Now the mock draft is not frozen, teams often stray from it (again, looking at you Masai Ujiri). Plus, undrafted players can also form teams — think Fred VanVleet, who went undrafted and is now an All-Star.

There is also an “NBA Draft Combine” which is essentially a training camp for draft prospects. Players take part in skill tests, have their measurements taken and are watched by interested teams.

Then on Draft Night, the teams make their official picks, and this year FOUR Canadians were invited to participate in the Draft Combine.

Shaedon Sharpe (from London, Ontario) from the University of Kentucky, Leonard Miller (from Scarborough, Ontario) who is still in high school at Fort Erie Prep, Bennedict Mathurin (from Montreal, Quebec) from Arizona, and Andrew Nembhard (Aurora, Ontario) of Gonzaga.

The Raptors’ highest draft pick is No. 33, having traded the No. 20 pick to the San Antonio Spurs in the trade that brought Thad Young to Toronto at the 2022 trade deadline. The Raptors will repeat- they last year and will they draft any of the Canadian players like they did with Dalano Banton in 2021? We’ll have to see where these four players end up as the draft unfolds.

Let’s examine each prospect using this fictional draft. (Warning that fake drafts vary depending on who makes them!)

Starting with Shaedon Sharpe (a Shooting Guard), who is currently expected to be drafted in the 5-6th range. Sharpe was declared the number one freshman in the high school class of 2022 and committed to Kentucky in September 2021.

Sharpe then decided to forfeit his college eligibility entirely and immediately declare himself for the NBA draft without having played a single game for Kentucky – and he is still projected 5th overall! Expect Sharpe to not only be a longtime presence in the NBA, but ALSO on Canada’s National Men’s Team!

Next up is Bennedict Mathurin, who is expected to be 10-11th overall in the repechage. Mathurin went to Arizona where he played two seasons with the Wildcats before declaring himself for the NBA draft. He is a shooting guard/small forward who was named the 2022 PAC-12 Player of the Year.

In his two seasons at Arizona, Mathurin averaged 14.8 points per game and a 45.6% field goal percentage. He could offer bench points to a team and eventually become a reliable shooter.

Leonard Miller is another player opting to skip college basketball and instead declare himself for the NBA Draft (although he is maintaining his eligibility for now). He is the youngest player in this year’s draft at just 18 years old. Currently, he is expected to be drafted in his late 30s, but he could potentially leave sooner if he catches the eye of an NBA team during the Combine.

Miller is an interesting prospect, opting for the newer idea that athletes don’t necessarily need a year or two at the college level before entering the NBA. Although he would most likely spend a few years in the G league if drafted, he presents an opportunity for a team to invest in their future.

Finally, there is Andrew Nembhard, a point guard from Gonzaga. He played his first two years of college basketball at the University of Florida before heading to Gonzaga for his final two years. He made the All-WCC First Team in 2022.

Nembhard is currently expected to be drafted early in the second round and could provide depth at the playmaking position for his future team. He has a career average of 5.3 assists per game and a field goal percentage of 44.6. He also brings his national team experience and was part of the Canadian senior men’s roster under coach Nick Nurse at the FIBA ​​Basketball World Cup in 2019.

As basketball in Canada continues to reach new heights, it’s exciting to see these new faces stepping into the league. Players like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and RJ Barrett have made a name for themselves in the NBA. Kia Nurse, Natalie Achonwa and Bridget Carleton are among the Canadians making waves in WNBA women’s basketball, and more prospects keep coming.

Exciting times are ahead as the future for Canada’s senior men’s and women’s basketball teams looks bright. These young players entering the NBA and WNBA help grow the game in Canada and prove to the world that Canada is BASKETBALL COUNTRY!

Good luck to our four Canadians as they prepare for the NBA Draft on Thursday, June 23 in Chicago!

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