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NBA Daily: Isaiah Canaan Making Most of Opportunity in Phoenix

Isaiah Canaan spoke with Basketball Insiders about making the most of his opportunity with the Phoenix Suns.

Jesse Blancarte

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Isaiah Canaan has bounced around the NBA and G-League since first being drafted 34th overall by the Houston Rockets in 2013. In the years since being drafted, Canaan has played for the Rockets, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, the Philadelphia 76ers, the Chicago Bulls, the Oklahoma City Thunder (three preseason games only), the Northern Arizona Suns and was most recently called up to play for the Phoenix Suns. At some of these stops, Canaan had an opportunity to contribute and display his talents. As for the other stops, Canaan passed through quickly to his next opportunity.

On this most recent stop, Canaan hasn’t wasted any time showing the Suns that he can be a valuable contributor and is worth keeping around. Through four games with the Suns this season, Canaan is averaging 13 points, five assists, 3.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game while shooting 41.2 percent from the field and 42.9 percent from three-point range. Canaan is taking advantage of the fact that other Suns players have been sidelined with injuries, which is what opened up his path to Phoenix in the first place.

Basketball Insiders spoke with Canaan recently about his impressive play and fit with his new teammates.

“It’s all coming,” said Canaan when asked about acclimating to his new situation. “Keep watching film, keep getting familiar with everybody and the more practice we have together the better the chemistry will be. We just kinda been catching it on the fly right now and we just gotta continue to get better each day.”

Canaan was coming off a less than stellar performance against the Clippers but he remained positive.

“Obviously it wasn’t one of my best games,” Canaan said about his performance against the Clippers. “I mean I just missed a lot of chippies here and there and there’s gonna be games like that. Just gotta shake it off. I mean we got a back to back so put this one behind us, watch some film and get ready to go tomorrow.”

When asked whether he is holding back his own individual talents in order to fit in with his new teammates, Canaan focused again on building more chemistry with his teammates.

“Just continue to get better… continue to get familiar with everybody’s game and where they like to have the ball at and just continue to grow together,” Canaan said. The more practice time we have, the more we can learn each other and understand each other and I mean it’s a long season. Like I said, you just gotta put games like this behind us and just continue to get better and move on.”

Canaan quickly bounced back with a solid performance in Phoenix’s narrow victory against the struggling Memphis Grizzlies on Thursday. He logged 10 points, four assists, three rebounds and two steals and the Suns were a net +16 points with him on the floor. Though Canaan has only been with the Suns for a short period of time, it looks as though he may stick around for the remainder of the season and perhaps even beyond that.

Suns general manager Ryan McDonough did an interview with Arizona Sports 98.7 FM recently and strongly endorsed Canaan.

“I think Isaiah has certainly played well enough to find a home and be a guy we want to keep,” McDonough said.

“I think with what Isaiah’s done, we should plan on having him in Phoenix for the rest of the year, if not longer.”

We still need to wait for the return of some of the Suns injured players before we know where exactly Canaan fits on this roster. He has shown flashes of potential in the past but has been derailed by untimely injuries and roster overlap. While there is reason to be optimistic about his recent play, Canaan has been around the league enough in his short career to know that the NBA is a business and things can change quickly.

One of the difficulties for Canaan is his height. At just 6-foot-0, he is a bit undersized. However, while growing up, Canaan looked to Allen Iverson as a player to model his game around. Iverson was undersized but managed to be one of best pound-for-pound scorers in NBA history through unrelenting tenacity and confidence in his abilities.

“Just Allen Iverson…just competitive nature,” Canaan responded when asked about which player he was inspired by and why. “He always wasn’t the tallest but he had one of the biggest hearts. That’s what I try to do, try to go out there and just compete and just will my team to victory and just do whatever I can to help my team win.”

With a team-first attitude and a run of solid outings, it’s not hard to understand why McDonough is high on Canaan and is considering keeping him around for the rest of the season.

Jesse Blancarte is a Deputy Editor for Basketball Insiders. He is also an Attorney and a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

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Legacy

Looking For A Few Great Voices!

From time to time we have open chairs at Basketball Insiders for writers looking to gain experience, grow their brand and to be part of an aggressive up-tempo content team.

Basketball Insiders

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From time to time we have open chairs at Basketball Insiders for writers looking to gain experience, grow their brand and to be part of an aggressive up-tempo content team.

We are considering adding new voices for the 2020-21 NBA Season, and what we are looking for is very specific.

Here are the criteria:
– A body of professional work that reflects an understanding of the NBA and basketball.
– Must live within 30 minutes of an NBA team.
– Must be willing to write two to three times per week on various topics as assigned.
– Must write in AP style and meet assigned deadlines.
– Be willing to appear in Podcasts and Video projects as needed and scheduled.
– Have a strong understanding of social media and its role in audience development.
– Be willing to work in a demanding virtual team environment.

Some things to know and consider:
– We are not hiring full-time people. If you are seeking a full-time gig, this is not that.
– This will be a low or non-compensation role initially. We need to understand your value and fit.
– We have a long track record of creating opportunities for those that excel in our program.
– This will be a lengthy interview and evaluation process. We take this very seriously, so should you.
– If you are not committed to being great, this is not the right situation for you.

If you are interested, please follow these specific instructions, Drop us an e-mail with:

Your Name:

The NBA Market You Live Near:

And Why We Should Consider You:

We do not need your resume, but a few links to work you have done under the above information would be helpful.

Please send all of this to: openings2021@basketballinsiders.com

 

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#17 – Aleksej Pokusevski – Oklahoma City Thunder

David Yapkowitz

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With the 17th pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, the Oklahoma City Thunder select Aleksej Pokusevski from Serbia. The Thunder completed a trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves to acquire the pick.

Pokusevski is a long term project, but one that has has an intriguing skillset. A 7-footer with good speed and quickness, Pokusevski plays like a wing and can pass like a guard. But, to truly thrive at the next level, Pokusevski will need to put on some serious weight.

Again, he’s a project. But Pokusevski’s ceiling is sky-high. And, with a rebuild ahead of them, the Thunder have more than enough time to work with him and ensure he reaches it.

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Mock Drafts

2020 NBA Mock Draft – The Final 60-Pick Mock

What a long and winding road the 20201 NBA Draft has been. While this draft cycle has seen its ups and down, the moment of truth if finally upon us.

Steve Kyler

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What a long and winding road the 20201 NBA Draft has been. While this draft cycle has seen its ups and down, the moment of truth if finally upon us.

Here is a final look at the 2020 Draft, and how it may play out in this final 60-pick Mock Draft of the 20202 NBA Draft process:

 

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