Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander won the Canadian Press Male Athlete of the Year Award, and his teammates on the Canada Men's National Basketball Team also received recognition.
Gilgeous-Alexander led the Canada Men's National Basketball Team to its first-ever medal in a FIBA World Cup as the team won Bronze in 2023. For that accomplishment, the team won the Canadian Press Team of the Year Award.
With the Oklahoma City Thunder in the NBA during the 2022/23 season, Gilgeous-Alexander averaged a career-high 31.4 points, plus 4.8 rebounds, 5.5 assists, 1.6 steals, and 1.0 block while shooting 51.0 percent from the field and 90.5 percent from the free throw line.
Through 28 games played in 2023/24, SGA is building upon last season with 31.1 points per game, 5.8 rebounds per game, a career high 6.5 assists per game, a career-high and league-leading 2.8 steals per game, plus career-highs with a 90.9 free throw percentage and a 54.3 field goal percentage. The Thunder sit third in the Western Conference with a 20-9 record.
Gilgeous-Alexander's 24.5 points per game in the FIBA World Cup was good for fourth in the tournament, and he provided 6.4 assists per game and 1.6 steals per game. His 31-point performance in the third-place game win over the United States was his joint-best scoring effort in the tournament.
As a team, Canada finished second in the World Cup in points per game (98.8) and fourth in three-point percentage (40.3). Gilgeous-Alexander led the team in points, assists, rebounds, and steals, but the rest of the team did well to play off of him and create their own shots when required.
The main contributors aside from SGA were RJ Barrett (16.8 points per game, 5.0 rebounds per game), Dillon Brooks (15.1 points per game, 1.3 steals per game), and Kelly Olynyk (10.9 points per game, 4.6 rebounds per game, 2.9 assists per game).
Gilgeous-Alexander's cousin, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, played an effective role off the bench, as did Lu Dort and Melvin Ejim.
Canada's marquee wins en route to their bronze medal finish were a 95-65 blowout win over France, a 101-75 win over eventual fifth-place finishers Latvia, a narrow 88-85 win over Spain, a 100-89 win over Luka Doncic-led Slovenia, and a 127-118 win over the United States in the third-place game.
Tournament runners-up Serbia put an end to Canada's World Cup run, as they shot 62.1 percent from the field in the semifinal matchup compared to Canada's 48.2 percent.
After earning their first FIBA World Cup medal, Canada's players can hold their heads high and look toward the future.
They accomplished this feat without former No. 1 NBA Draft pick Andrew Wiggins and 2023 NBA Champion Jamal Murray, the latter of whom missed the tournament as he recovered from the NBA season.
Their core players should stick around long enough to play in at least one more World Cup, and young players like 7-foot-4 Purdue star Zach Edey and 7-foot-8 Florida commit Olivier Rioux should only add depth - and plenty of size - to an already talented Team Canada. It's safe to say the future is bright up north.