When NBA teams travel to Toronto to play the Raptors, they hear the sounds of our northern neighbor's national anthem before each game. If Indiana continues to draft the way they did this year, the Pacers might have to play it in Gainbridge Fieldhouse.
With the selections of Bennedict Mathurin and Andrew Nembhard, the Pacers added two athletes to an already growing list of NBA players that hail from the Great White North. The duo will be joining Oshae Brissett to make three Canadians on Indiana's roster. Additionally, Pacers guard Chris Duarte was born in Canada, though he moved to the Dominican Republic at an early age.
Brissett, a fan favorite by all measures, was born and raised in Toronto and played a portion of his high school basketball career for St. Aloysius Gonzaga in Mississauga, Ontario. On draft night, he tweeted out his support for the selections.
Meanwhile, Mathurin is a native of Montreal. The 6-foot, 5-inch swingman from Arizona grew up playing ice hockey and football as well. In 2018, Mathurin joined the NBA Academy Latin America in Mexico City, becoming the first Canadian-born player to do so.
Moments after the Pacers picked Mathurin, the Portland Trail Blazers selected fellow Canadian Shaedon Sharpe from Kentucky. According to Sportsnet, the duo became just the second pair of Canadians picked in the Top 10 of the NBA draft. In 2014, the Cleveland Cavaliers selected Andrew Wiggins first overall, and the Sacramento Kings selected Nik Stauskas with the eighth pick.
"I feel like I'm a winner," Mathurin said during his press conference. "I'm a really competitive guy. Off the court, I feel I'm a pretty funny guy. I like doing a lot of fun stuff."
Later, the Pacers selected Nembhard with the first pick of the second round (31st overall). The promising guard was born in Aurora, Ontario, and played a part of his high school basketball career at Vaughan Secondary School. For reference, Vaughan is roughly a 40-minute drive north of Mississauga, where Brissett played. He later finished his high school career at Monteverde Academy in Florida.
Nembhard is a confident facilitator with plenty of experience and should not be forgotten by Pacers fans. He has spent time at the international level, playing for Team Canada in FIBA competitions for their U-16, U-17, U-18, and senior national teams. Of course, the Blue & Gold hope Nembhard becomes as recognizable as another Canadian guard, Hall-of-Famer Steve Nash.
Immediately after the Pacers selected Nembhard, the Orlando Magic selected Caleb Houstan, another Canadian-born athlete. According to Sportsnet, the selection made 2022 the fourth year where four or more Canadians were taken in the NBA draft (1983, 2014, and 2019). Currently, Canada has had 37 players chosen in the NBA draft since the beginning of the two-round format in 1989.