Chris Duarte Montrealers NBA

Montrealers continue to have an impact in the NBA offseason

Montreal players are plotting an NBA takeover.

For fans of theoretical scenarios, the NBA offseason can be just as exciting as the playoffs. The dreamers of the world share a fantastic feeling during this “what if…?” time of year.

As time goes by, Canada continues to make a large impact on the league. We have some big shoes to fill in the coming years. Yet there is no denying that each season creates more heroes hailing from our country than the last. 

The 2021 offseason has plenty of potential for Canadians. I, for one, am crossing both my fingers and toes, yearning for us to live up to this growing momentum.

Montreal players are plotting an NBA takeover

This year’s NBA offseason offers tons of excitement for players from our city. Montrealer Chris Duarte was a surprise of this year’s NBA Draft, where he was picked 13th overall by the Indiana Pacers. Analysts had been predicting that the University of Oregon alumnus would place somewhere in the latter half of the first round, around the 20th to 30th slot. 

Chris Duarte drafted by the Indiana Pacers (Montrealers continue to have an impact in the NBA offseason)

The 2022 Draft shows hope for a new generation of Montreal talent. Both Quincy Guerrier (Oregon Ducks) and Bennedict Mathurin (Arizona Wildcats) are expected to make a big impact across the league, should they each choose to declare for next year’s draft.

The Raptors (kind of) fucked up

The Toronto Raptors had one job. A season played in Tampa Bay, Florida due to border restrictions was clearly a challenge for the Canadian team. Unlike other franchises, these players had to be away from their families for months on end, living in a city that some of its roster had surely never visited beforehand.

A lackluster year came with one silver lining: The fourth pick in the 2021 NBA Draft. Jalen Suggs of NCAA March Madness runner-ups Gonzaga was widely expected to be their choice. Instead, the Raptors went with Scottie Barnes of Florida State Seminoles.
The Toronto Raptors bring on Scottie Barnes (Montrealers continue to have an impact in the NBA offseason)

While both players are solid point guards, Suggs is arguably the more versatile of the two. He can shift into the role of shooting guard seamlessly, if necessary. Barnes will suffice, however. He led his team to substantial March Madness notoriety for the first time in nearly a decade.

With the Raps transitioning away from the Lowry era, the team needs new blood to build around. Jalen Suggs’ transformable style of play had pundits believing he would be an ideal fit for Toronto and his numbers back up these claims. Whatever the team was thinking, Scottie Barnes will surely suffice but the young Floridian will also have far more to prove in the forthcoming seasons.

Karim Mane’s last shot

Karim Mane, the first NBA player straight out of CEGEP, is getting his second chance. After being waived by the Orlando Magic towards the end of the 2020–21 season, the player has been picked up by the Minnesota Timberwolves’ Summer League team. 

The Sacramento Kings won the Las Vegas Summer League yesterday (Montrealers continue to have an impact in the NBA offseason)

The Las Vegas Summer League is an ample opportunity for young talent stuck in limbo to prove themselves worthy of a regular season roster spot. As a G-League Champion, Mane has the experience to lead his team through this rugged, tournament style of play. With a disastrous 23–49 record this past season, Minnesota are in an opportune condition to experiment. 

Teams who are worse during the regular season tend to have high success rates in the Summer League, with a plethora of top-tier rookie players on their rosters. Mane plays as a point guard, one of the most sought after positions in this year’s free agency. Best case scenario, his tenure with the T-Wolves could impress the team enough to offer him a permanent position on the young squad. ■

For key dates in the NBA schedule, please click here. This column originally appeared in the August 2021 issue of Cult MTL. 

For more Montreal sports coverage, visit our Sports section.