With the NBA Draft only hours away, Tristan Thompson has the chance to make history tonight. Can he be the first player born north of the 49th parallel to be selected in the Lottery? All the magic 8 balls are pointing to yes ...
This has been a banner season for Canadian basketball on so many levels and it looks like it will culminated in a Canuck being Drafted. Tristan Thompson is that player and he has a chance to be a member of an exclusive set of players that have been taken in the annual Draft Lottery and not only that, he has the chance to be the highest picked Canadian which would be an astonishing feat.
Thanks C.J. Phillips' website, www.frozenhoops.com, you can view the list of Canadian players who had ever played in the NBA going back to the league's precurser the B.A.A. It's fairly indepth with regards to the listing (though some of the currently active profiles are a little dated) and a great source.
(Let me just preface the rest of the entry by saying that I'm leaving out Bob Houbregs who was selected 3rd by Milwaukee after an illustrious college career at Washington in 1953. I leave him out because he was only Canadian by birth and spent the rest of his days in the US.)
Now when you look at this list of players, it shows there has never been a Canuck choosen in the Lottery. The closest that anyone has been is Steve Nash who was selected at 15 just one spot shy in 1996. There have been others who were also close: long time Bull and three-time NBA champion Bill Wennington was selected 16th by the Mavs in 1985 and Jamaal Magloire who was picked 19th in by the Charlotte Hornetsin 2000. But never a player Canadian in the Lottery.
So will this be the year?
All signs are pointing to yes.
Depending on where you like to get your NBA Draft info from, the mock Drafts from popular sites like Draft Express, NBADraft.net, CBS Sports, CNNSI and SB Nation have Tristan Thompson going anywhere from late lottery to as high as number four (read that rumour here). That is a big stretch of places but the bottom line is that they are all in the Lottery spots.
Thompson has quite a bit going for him and it's all looking like these attributes, along some reportedly impressive workouts, have him likely being among the first names called this Thursday. There have been rumours since the start of informal Draft workouts of Detroit and Milwaukee showing a lot of interest in the Brampton, ON native who both have selections in the top ten. Being selected in this range would definitely be a dream come true for Thompson. Phoenix has been a long predicted place for Tristan for the duration of the Draft hoopla and looks just as solid a place for him to be as the aforementioned teams.
I think Thompson has the chance to be the very first Canadian to be picked in the Lottery and it almost seems appropriate to be. He has been the long standing face of the "new wave" of Canadian basketball players who were on the rise. He was the big name that left for the US to go to high school and really blow it up. He was among the best players in his class and at one time was the top player. He is the first Canadian to leave early for the NBA Draft after his freshman year and will be picked.
All that's left is to be the among the first fourteen names called by David Stern and we have the story book ending to this chapter of his life and our game.