No, Canada did not qualify for the FIBA World Cup this year. A disappointing finish at last summer’s Tournament of the Americas prevented the team from making the trip to Spain at the end of the month.
It was still a critical summer for the growing basketball country. Even with NBA players Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett sitting out, Steve Nash‘s Canadian basketball program had a big opportunity to keep growing with young players like Cory Joseph, Kelly Olynyk and Magic forward Andrew Nicholson representing their country for a major European tour.
Nicholson, of course, had a strong summer last year before his disappointing sophomore season. He averaged 15.0 points per game for the national team last year, showing a wider array of moves away from the basket and a new 3-point shot. That obviously did not translate to the NBA season.
How Nicholson regained his confidence this summer could be an important step for his growth and development in his third season in the NBA.
So how did he do on this whirlwind tour?
First, Canada embarked on this European excursion on July 24 and played eight teams in this month’s World Cup. Team Canada went 5-6 on the trip, including wins over seventh-ranked Turkey and 15th-ranked Angola (two World Cup qualifiers) in the final two games.
Nicholson had some solid outings and some poor outings, as Adam Papageorgiou of Magic Basketball Online exhaustively covered at the time.
Overall on the 11-game tour he averaged approximately 10.6 points per game and 3.9 rebounds per game while shooting 52.3 percent from the floor and 19 for 47 (40.4 percent) from beyond the arc including a double double of 21 points and 10 rebounds in the finale against Angola. He seemed to get better as the trip went on, ending with his best individual performance.
It was good to see Nicholson gain some confidence as it took him some time to find his footing and then play well. He seems to fit the international game and what coach Jay Triano wants to do really well. Certainly better than Jacque Vaughn used Andrew Nicholson last year.
Like with Maurice Harkless, this is a pretty big year for Nicholson. He has to show his worth not only to the Magic but to the entire league as he nears his first run through free agency.
He obviously still has a certain amount of skill and is the type of player teams would want. He just has to produce.
Hopefully his run with Canada returned some of his confidence and he is ready to get running in September for the Magic.