Canada Basketball is still trying to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games and RJ Barrett is going to be a big part of the action.
Last offseason, RJ Barrett‘s development took place in the shadows, but this year we will be able to watch him grow with Canada Basketball. The Canadians are taking part in an Olympic Qualifying Tournament and Barrett plans to be with his countrymen as they try and qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
RJ Barrett says if he is available he is going to play for Team Canada in the Olympics this summer. He says he plans to play for Canada every summer he can.
RJ’s dad Rowan is currently Canada Basketball’s GM
— Danny Small (@dwsmall8) April 12, 2021
Barrett is one of eight NBA players on the current 19-man training camp roster for Canada Basketball. His spot is almost a sure thing after his breakout season for the New York Knicks.
It doesn’t hurt that his father, Rowan Barrett, is the general manager for Canada Basketball either. But this isn’t a case of nepotism. Barrett is going to have a significant role on this team and this summer could be another launching pad for his development.
Let’s take a look at the roster, schedule, Barrett’s role, and what this summer might mean for the Knicks.
Canada Basketball Roster & Schedule
Olympic Qualifying Tournament Roster:
***denotes a current NBA player
All eight NBA players on the training camp roster made the final cut, but there were still four spots up for grabs. Trae Bell-Haynes (Crailsheim Merlins), Anthony Bennett (Cangrejeros de Santurce), Aaron Doornekamp (Tenerife), and Andrew Nicholson (Fujian Sturgeons) round out this squad.
As for Canada Basketball’s schedule, they will face Greece (June 29, 7:05 p.m. ET) and China (June 30, 7:05 p.m.) in the group stage of the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament. The top two teams from this group will advance to a semifinal against the top two teams from a group that includes Uruguay, Czech Republic, and Turkey.
The winners of the semifinal will take part in a winner-take-all game for a bid to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. The winner will be rewarded with an invitation to the Olympic group with the USA, France, and Iran.
RJ Barrett’s Role on Canada Basketball
RJ Barrett is going to be one of the top scoring options for Canada in this Olympic Qualifying Tournament. Outside of maybe Andrew Wiggins, no player on this roster can create his own shot quite like Barrett. Expect the young star to be a focal point of this Canadian offense.
His three-point shooting was the biggest factor in his leap forward with the Knicks, but that won’t be his bread-and-butter for Canada Basketball. Rather than spotting up on the outside while others initiate, Barrett will have the ball in his hands a lot.
What This Means for the Knicks
This summer’s reps have the potential to be massive for Barrett and the Knicks. Although he was New York’s de facto second option on offense this year, the playoffs showed that he still has a long way to go.
Obviously, the quality of play in the Olympics won’t be nearly as high as that of an average NBA game, but more reps against professionals won’t hurt the young star.
The Knicks pushed for the playoffs this year in part to give the youth a chance to play in meaningful games. The Knicks would love to still be in the playoffs, but sending Barrett back to Canada to lead his country to a berth in the Olympics isn’t a bad fallback plan.