Wiggins x Team Canada: appreciation & acceptance

Nico Mannion reached OQT final

Just finished a video analyzing nearly every Andrew Wiggins highlight from Team Canada’s win on Tuesday vs Greece. It took a long time to produce due to splicing and dicing of the FIBA footage to avoid copyright issues (our analysis, without basically replaying the game, should be considered fair use).

But… Canada just got upset by the Czech Republic, so it’s the end of the line. Wiggins had a monster finish, so he probably played even better than in the analysis of the Greece game above. In any case, read on for the same knowledge of both Wiggins and what’s happening with these Olympic Qualifying Tournaments (OQTs). The rest of this post was written before today’s loss…

The full dissection of Wiggins is in the clickable video above. It’s a reminder to the subsection of DubNation intent on trading Wiggins for any big name they hear trending on social media. I would list the things that Golden State Warriors fans ought to appreciate about Wiggins as the following:

  • Versatility, length (7’ wingspan), athleticism

  • Closing out on three-point shooters

  • Switching and pick-and-roll coverage

  • Ability to get off almost any shot he wants

  • Ability to finish at the rim

Of course, there are also the warts:

  • Occasional brain farts, possibly more so when he is fatigued

  • Settling for his set shot early in the game (it can get predictable)

  • Low trajectory and lack of spin on the ball

I argue that Warriors fans should start coming to an acceptance of Wiggs’ faults, as they have for silly Stephen Curry turnovers, Draymond Green “backpack” shots and the evolution of Klay Thompson’s “Klayups”. Wiggins is guaranteed $32 million this upcoming season and $34 million the year after that. With him coming off the books following the 2022-23 season, the naysayers of DubNation really only have to dig in for 2021-22.

(Photo: Canada Basketball)

Anyhow, the day after in their OQT, Canada followed that Greece win used above in the Wiggins analysis with a win against China, which means they will face the Czech Republic for the right to face the winner of Greece vs Turkey in the Final of this Olympic Qualifying Tournament held in Victoria, British Columbia.

There are only six teams per OQT and the champion of each earns a berth to the Olympics in Tokyo later this month.

I talked recently with Jeffrey Taylor, play-by-play TV commentator for FIBA, currently stationed in Belgrade where it just so happens that Nico Mannion is playing for Italy, which made it to the Final there. It’s likely they’ll face Boban Marjanovic and Team Serbia, although they’re without Nikola Jokic, who is resting and will play in the Olympics if Serbia makes it, per Taylor.

(Photo: ItalBasket)

Here’s the synopsis of what’s currently happening, as it relates to Olympic basketball, from Taylor (edited for clarity).

On Mannion’s OQT in Belgrade, where Taylor is currently doing play-by-play: “Philippines vs Serbia was fun tonight. Philippines were refreshingly good. Kai Sotto is a huge talent. Jokic isn't playing, resting for the Olympics if they make it. I say ‘if’ because Serbia have had two hard games, have not had much time together and now they've lost a player to injury in Stefan Jovic. And they will have to beat Italy and possibly Puerto Rico and maybe the Dominican Republic again, or the Philippines again, to make it. Judging from their two games, I think it's Italy's OQT to win or lose. If they play at their best, they'll win. Mannion is a super-nice guy.

On Canada and their OQT: “Canada are favored if you just look at names, yet Greece, Turkey and the Czechs have played together a long time — at least many of the players have — so it's going to be close, if Canada's narrow win over Greece was an indication. Had Canada shown up with a full strength team, an entire squad of NBA players, it would have been tough seeing the other teams win but I have to admit that Rick Pitino has done a very nice job getting Greece ready. They looked better to me against Canada than they had at any time in recent years, even without Giannis Antetokounmpo. This Greece team does have Kostas Antetokounmpo and he's good, though right now someone that plays about ten minutes per game.

Turkey had to come from behind to beat Uruguay but the South Americans were much better with Jayson Granger, a player they have not had much over the years because he plays in Europe and has also had the odd injury.

(Photo: Canada Basketball)

Canada thumped China last night, so they have progressed to the Semi-Finals and will play the team that finishes second in Group B, either the Czechs or Uruguay. If the Czechs improve, and maybe they will, they would be dangerous. They are missing a key player in Vojtech Hruban, however, which hurts them. They are still likely to beat Uruguay. Greece should beat China, so they will likely face Turkey in the Semi-Finals. From what I have seen, I would expect Canada to have to face Greece again, and this time in the Final. That would be a great game.

Luka Doncic plays for Slovenia today against Poland in Kaunas, Lithuania. That could be a bigger test for Slovenia than anyone realizes. Poland were very good at the World Cup, reaching the Quarter-Finals.”

On Team USA: “If you didn't know, there are eight teams already in the Olympic field because of their performances at the FIBA Basketball World Cup on China two years ago. They are winners Spain, runners-up Argentina, 3rd-place France, 4th-place Australia, the USA, Nigeria, Iran and hosts Japan. So the winners of each of the four Olympic Qualifying Tournaments will complete the field.

The USA were seventh at the World Cup, but qualified for the Olympics by virtue of being the second highest finisher at the event from the Americas, with Argentina claiming the first spot. Nigeria and Iran didn't even make it to the quarter-finals, or the top eight, at the World Cup, yet they qualified because Nigeria were the highest finisher among African teams and Iran the highest among the Asian sides.”