Nick Nurse frustrated, wants top Canadian players to commit to Team Canada

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There are a lot of talented NBA players who hail from Canada: Jamal Murray, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Andrew Wiggins, Trey Lyles, R.J. Barrett, and Tristan Thompson, among others.

Something else those players have in common? They are not with Team Canada this summer for the FIBA World Cup.

Canada, under coach Nick Nurse, did not advance out of group play and moved over to the classification bracket (read: Consolation bracket) for a couple of games. Canada set a World Cup record with 24 made threes in their blowout win over Jordan on Saturday.

Nurse is frustrated that many of Canada’s best are not at the World Cup, saying that to truly be a force on the world stage the team needs more continuity, as Nurse explained to Sportsnet.

“I think the biggest thing is I think we need an introduction, some of the guys need an introduction to the national team, right?” Nurse said. “I think the guys who are here right now have all played a little bit, continue to grow as they stay together. But some of the guys, I guess they need to find out why or why not they’re going to play or commit to playing. If they’re gonna play, it needs to be a five or six-year stretch.

“Because I think you could do something special with a group of guys who stick together for five or six years…

“I see it as a really interesting unique time in Canada Basketball,” Nurse said. “The talent’s really pouring out, the young talent continues to pour out, the Raptors had a pretty good season, the fan base, the people are interested all over the country in basketball, I think it’s an important time for a group of six, eight, 10 guys to stick together for five or six years.”

First off, the Raptors had a “pretty good” season? Lighten up man, you just won an NBA title. You’re allowed to revel in that for a long time.

Obviously, it’s not just Canada facing this problem. The United States had many of its top stars not play — Anthony Davis, James Harden, Damian Lillard, Kyrie Irving, to name a few — and developing chemistry on the fly has been an issue for coach Gregg Popovich and Team USA as well. Pop just had a deeper talent pool to draw from than Nurse. The combination of the long NBA season and players wanting to recover, plus FIBA moving the World Cup the year before the Olympics (so players would have to commit consecutive summers to the team) are among the reasons behind the decisions.

Players who grow up in a European system tend to play together with the same guys for years, so even as they go to different teams as professionals the bonds and chemistry — knowing how to play together — never go away. It’s a huge advantage in international play and you can see it in teams such as Serbia, or even in Australia (not a European team, but same idea) when they upset the USA.

It’s always going to be a challenge for Canada (and the USA), but a little more continuity would help.