Published On: Mon, Aug 22nd, 2016

Will Canada be ready to compete for gold in 2020?

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Back-to-back No. 1 overall picks in 2013 and 2014 brought with them a lot of excitement and lofty expectations to Canada Basketball.

There won’t be a Canadian basketball offering in Rio, but as this new injection of talent from north of the border finds its way into the NBA ranks, it’s just a matter of time before Canada is in position to flex its muscles internationally. But when will that be?

Will Canada be ready to compete for gold in 2020?

Gino Bottero: Canada has seven lottery picks in the NBA right now, six of which have entered the league since the 2013 draft. The other is Tristan Thompson, who’s played a large role in getting the Cleveland Cavaliers to back-to-back NBA Finals. The talent will be there in Tokyo.

John Chick: Canada has a better chance of converting its Arctic coast into a tropical beach by 2020 – and global warming doesn’t move that quickly – than it does of winning gold in Tokyo. To be clear, Canada could maybe contend for bronze or silver, but it is far, far away from knocking the U.S. off its pedestal.

Bottero: When the United States sent its first offering of pro players to Barcelona, that ultra-motivated group won its games by an average margin of 43.8 points. Now America’s top players routinely pass on their invitations, so Canada wouldn’t need to beat America’s best, but a group that looks more like its B team. If Canada displays the kind of passion the U.S. did in ’92, it could catch a lot of people off guard.

Related: Could America’s best in 2016 beat the ’92 Dream Team?

Chick: Concurrently, the problem is also that Canadian stars are no sure bets to represent either – especially with the new FIBA qualification schedule, which will take place during the NBA season. Beyond that though, the Canadian talent level now – with 13 players currently in the NBA – is simply not enough to defeat a U.S. team with four or five quality NBA players on it.

Bottero: Depth isn’t an issue. Only 12 will make the trip to Tokyo, and only five need to be on the court at once. In four years, a 25-year-old Andrew Wiggins will be entering his prime and motivated to prove he can go toe-to-toe with the world’s best. The one-game elimination format also encourages upsets. Hit a few shots and force a few misses and you’re on your way. Anything can happen.

Chick: It’ll be interesting to see how much Wiggins will value his summers after a few years being coached by Tom Thibodeau. There’s no doubt he’s a generational talent, and players like Thompson, Jamal Murray, and Cory Joseph are excellent additions. But they’re not beating a U.S. team with Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Stephen Curry, James Harden, Kyrie Irving, DeMarcus Cousins, or even Wiggins’ teammate Karl-Anthony Towns – at least three of whom are guaranteed to be in Tokyo.

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