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Prospect of Interest: Raptors’ first-ever Canadian selection Dalano Banton – Sportsnet.ca

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Toronto native Dalano Banton made history Thursday night, becoming the first Canadian basketball player ever to get drafted by the Toronto Raptors when the team took him in the second round, 46th overall.

The redshirt sophomore out of Nebraska features length and versatility that that makes him an intriguing project for the Raptors’ vaunted player development program, and the fact that he’s also a hometown kid is just icing on the cake.

“This is a perfect example why you have BioSteel [All Canadian Games]. That’s the first time I saw the kid play, right? We all watched him there and have continued to follow him,” said Raptors general manager Bobby Webster after the draft concluded in the wee hours of Friday morning. “To draft the first Canadian kid, I’m sure, was cool for all of us to hear on the broadcast, ‘Toronto Raptors select Dalano Banton from Toronto,’ right? That’ll probably go down for a while.

“But really talented, a bit of a roundabout way for him but that’s never deterred us in the past, because we think he’s talented, he’s big, he plays a little point guard, he sees the floor really well, can rebound really well. He was invited to the G League camp this year in Chicago and didn’t make it to the NBA camp, but maybe that was a benefit to us.

“Local kid, I think Rexdale, so shoutout to Rexdale, and I’m sure they’re all really excited for him and we’ll see what he can do.”

Here’s a little more on Banton and why the Raptors opted to make him the first Canadian the organization’s ever drafted.

Age: 21
School: Nebraska
Position: Point guard
Height: Six-foot-nine | Weight: 204 lbs
2020-21 stats: PPG: 9.6 | RPG: 5.9 | APG: 3.9 | 3P%: 24.7

Long and versatile with plenty of upside

First of all, in case the Scottie Barnes pick at No. 4 – in addition to players like OG Anunoby and Pascal Siakam on the roster – wasn’t already a good indicator, then the Raptors opting to take a chance on Banton is as telltale sign of the kind of player the organization values the most above all others.

That is to say, the Raptors seem to really like long, versatile and positionless players, so to speak.

Banton fits this description to a tee, as his natural position is as a point guard, but because he sprouted up to six-foot-nine he became more a forward with point-guard skills

Adept already in the pick-and-roll and, because of his height advantage, blessed with ability to make passes other smaller guards simply can’t, Banton figures to be an ideal facilitator and initiator of the Raptors’ offence.

Additionally, despite his slender frame, he isn’t afraid to crash the glass against bigger bodies, and when he gets a defensive rebound, because of his tight handle and his strong decision-making, he can instantly start a one-man fastbreak.

Lastly, because of his length and his athletic ability, Banton could mold into a decent multi-positional defender, possibly with the ability to defend four positions down the line.

These are all attributes that the Raptors have proven to value over the years and have become adept at developing players in a similar mold – like Siakam.

So, at 46, this seems like a safe bet on a good Canadian story from the Raptors.

Needs to improve his shooting stroke and add strength

Of course, as is the case with most second-round picks, Banton is far from a complete product, and will need to work hard to shore up at least two areas if he’s going to stick around in the NBA for a long while.

First and foremost, Banton is going to need to put on some extra strength and weight. A large part of the versatility he could bring to the table will probably hinge on his ability to guard at least two through four, and right now he doesn’t have the body to bang with power forwards.

The advantage Banton could bring would likely come as a small-ball four, but right now he just doesn’t have the size to do so.

He doesn’t have the shooting stroke to be a threat as a floor-spacing big man, either.

Banton shot just 20-for-81 from deep in 27 games played with the Cornhuskers last season and was just a 65.9 per cent free-throw shooter.

This is an indication that Banton isn’t much of a shooter and has a lot of work to do to even become an average one.

Can he do it? We’ll just have to wait and see.

Has his own ‘Bet on himself’ story

Banton is among one of the best stories in the 2021 draft.

Earlier this week I caught up with him and some members of his representation to learn why he decided to bet on himself.

“I believe in myself,” Banton said at the time.

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How the internet has changed the sporting world

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The internet has slowly changed how people participate in sports. One of the areas that were greatly influenced was virtual games. While there was a time one needed to get a PlayStation or Xbox, this has changed over time. Most players simply go online and get to play on their phones or computers. As such online games have become more popular over the years.

Perhaps one of the leading games to thrive has got to be online betting. If you want to find out more about bet365 sportsbook Canada, you can get all that information on the internet. It has made it easier for more people to join the online gaming space and become active members there.

Fans have also changed how they consume their sporting activities. Before the internet era, one needed to go to the stadium to watch a live game. The only other option aside from living sports was watching it on television or listening to the radio. With the internet, live games keep being aired daily.

As long as you have the internet on your phone or device, you can access games from any part of the world and watch them live.

You can also save the game and watch it later if you want to analyze it. It has led to an increase in the fan base since so many more people can watch the sports. It has also helped those who want to place bets on certain games to do it without an issue.

The introduction of virtual games has led to the international online tournament being arranged. While other sports need most people to travel from one place to another, this is no longer the case.

Fans from around the world gather and participate in different games without traveling. It has led to a rise of online players with their community and laws over them. The online gaming community has come together in the past and done things for strangers they have never met.

While there is some good in the online space, there is also negativity that comes from it. The anonymity the online space gives its people has made it easier for most people to judge others without fear of repercussions.

There have been cases where players have been bullied so much that they quit a sport. There has also been a situation where teams have lost sponsorships because online fans boycotted the matches. Whether these fans were on the right or not, it shows how much reach the online space has.

More sports companies hire PR teams to ensure that whatever happens in a game or with their players is taken care of. That way, the game’s credibility is maintained, and more fans can keep streaming in. Most players have also learned to be more cautious of how they carry around their fans lest they get painted in a bad light.

Running a sports academy has been made easier with the internet of things connecting so many tools. Managers simply need to put the right system in place, and they can monitor how their business is running.

With the touch of a button, staff gets paid, and invoices are made. New players can also sign up for these programs. It ensures that sports academies can run without hassle.

The internet has transformed how we look at things, and the sports areas are not different from all these changes. Soon all fans and players will have to be on these platforms. It is the only way to connect and offer whatever support one is giving a team or a sport.

 

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Hockey’s Battle Of Alberta Is Back

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The path to the Stanley Cup is going through one of hockey’s signature rivalries this spring, with the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers squaring off in the NHL’s Western Conference semifinals. (The Flames took Game 1 in a wild 9-6 shootout on Wednesday night; Game 2 is Friday night in Calgary.) Not only will the series determine who carries the banner for all of Canada in hopes of ending its painful 29-year Cup drought,<a class=”espn-footnote-link” data-footnote-id=”1″ href=”https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/hockeys-battle-of-alberta-is-back-and-as-entertaining-as-ever/#fn-1″ data-footnote-content=”

Before the Montreal Canadiens in 1993, Edmonton and Calgary were the second- and third-most recent Canadian teams to win it all (in 1990 and 1989, respectively).

“>1 but it represents a fierce clash between provincial neighbors with almost as much history, and hostility, on the ice as off.

So with the help of our Elo ratings, let’s take a tour through the history of the rivalry, tracing the rise and fall — and rise again — of Western Canada’s most bitter foes.

Though the two franchises started out at the same time, they took very different paths to what would eventually become an iconic rivalry. The Oilers first played in 1972 as a charter member of the upstart World Hockey Association and were known at the time as the Alberta Oilers, under an early plan (which never materialized) to split home games between Edmonton and Calgary.<a class=”espn-footnote-link” data-footnote-id=”2″ href=”https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/hockeys-battle-of-alberta-is-back-and-as-entertaining-as-ever/#fn-2″ data-footnote-content=”

After the WHA’s initial Calgary franchise (the Broncos) ran into funding problems and moved to Cleveland before playing a single game in Alberta.

“>2 Rooting itself explicitly in Edmonton — and changing to a more familiar name — starting in 1973, the team still found little success in the WHA … until it bought the rights to a skinny 17-year-old prospect named Wayne Gretzky. With Gretzky leading the way as a rookie in 1978-79, Edmonton nearly won the WHA’s last Avco Cup title, and his Oilers were absorbed into the NHL when the leagues merged in 1979.

Meanwhile, the Flames were born in 1972 as well, beginning their NHL life in the unconventional hockey market of Atlanta. Though largely forgotten now, the Atlanta Flames had some pretty good seasons in the mid-to-late 1970s — and in a certain sense, they can be seen as an early audition for the NHL’s later, more successful forays into the American South. But when financial losses mounted for Flames ownership in 1980, the team was sold to Canadian investors and moved northwest. Thus it came to be that the NHL had two Alberta-based franchises, destined to battle across the deep cultural divide that has always separated Edmontonians from Calgarians.

The conflict was fierce from the start, with one of the most penalty-filled games in the history of the rivalry taking place in just the second Edmonton-Calgary game ever. The teams avoided playoff confrontation early in their time as neighbors — until 1983 and 1984, that is, as the Oilers eliminated the Flames en route to the Stanley Cup final both years. (Game 7 of the 1984 division finals was a particularly wild affair, with Calgary taking a 4-3 lead midway through before Edmonton scored four unanswered goals to advance — a stepping stone on the path to the Oilers’ first Cup.) While the two teams had been on the same level in Elo at the beginning of the 1980s, the emergence of Gretzky and Edmonton’s high-scoring offense gave the Oilers a dynasty — and a clear edge in the Battle of Alberta by the middle of the decade.

But things got more competitive as the Flames began building a strong talent base of their own. Calgary improved from minus-3 in goal differential in 1984 to plus-61 in 1985 on the strength of the NHL’s second-best offense, trailing only Edmonton. And when the two teams matched up again in the playoffs in 1986, Oilers defenseman Steve Smith scored an infamous own-goal in Game 7 — accidentally banking the puck off netminder Grant Fuhr’s skate on a pass from behind the net — providing Calgary the margin to finally beat their rivals in the division finals. (The Flames would go on to lose to Montreal in an all-Canadian Cup final.)

That was a rare miscue for Edmonton: It marked the only time from 1984 through 1988 that the Oilers didn’t win the Cup. As much as Calgary improved over the course of the ’80s, Edmonton usually was a step ahead; even when the Flames finished a franchise-best No. 2 in Elo in 1987-88, the Oilers were No. 1. But Gretzky’s shocking departure for Los Angeles in August 1988 changed the rivalry — and the Flames seized on the opportunity to surpass their rivals, closing out the decade with the franchise’s first (and, for now, only) Stanley Cup triumph.

Somewhat surprisingly, the Oilers bounced back from their post-Gretzky downturn to begin the 1990s, capitalizing on their former captain’s own first-round win (with the L.A. Kings) over Calgary to then sweep Los Angeles in the following round and ultimately win yet another Cup. For those counting, that meant either Edmonton or Calgary had won four consecutive championships and six of the previous seven. The Battle of Alberta was effectively the battle to control the entire NHL.

But little did the teams know that would be the last Cup for either franchise in three decades and counting. As the economics of the NHL shifted during the 1990s to favor higher-payroll teams — and, relatedly, the American dollar — the Flames and Oilers fell behind. From 1992-93 through 2002-03, the teams combined to win only two playoff series: Edmonton’s pair of improbable seven-game victories over No. 2 seeds in 1997 (the Dallas Stars) and 1998 (the Colorado Avalanche). But while Oilers goalie Curtis “Cujo” Joseph was brilliant in both upsets, the decade as a whole was a time of decline and mediocrity in Alberta.

That trend carried over into the 2000s at first, reaching its nadir when neither team made the playoffs at all in 2001-02 — the first time that was true in the rivalry’s history. But each franchise was due for a moment of excitement, however brief.

The Flames had their turn first, improving by nearly 20 points in the standings under former (and, incidentally, current) coach Darryl Sutter in 2003-04. Hall of Fame winger Jarome Iginla finally had the goaltending help — in the form of Miikka Kiprusoff — to power a deep postseason run, and Calgary even held a 3-2 lead over the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Cup final before losing a double-OT heartbreaker at home in Game 6 and another tight contest in Game 7.

After a lockout torpedoed the entire 2004-05 season — and radically changed the economics of the league yet again — Edmonton went on a run of its own behind the standout play of defenseman Chris Pronger and journeyman goalie Dwayne Roloson (a former Flame!). Falling behind three-games-to-one against the Carolina Hurricanes in the 2006 Stanley Cup final, the Oilers rallied to force a Game 7, though they lost on the road to match their rivals’ fate from two years earlier.

The Battle of Alberta had seen both of its competitors come close to winning championships in the mid-2000s. But instead of serving as the prelude to another era of 1980s-style dominance, those Cup final runs were mostly a mirage. Edmonton would miss each of the next 10 postseasons, and Calgary failed to muster another series win for nearly as long.

Which brings us to the current era of the rivalry. The Flames have been one of the most inconsistent teams in the league since the mid-2010s, bouncing between decent seasons and bad ones across multiple coaches and an influx of younger talent such as Johnny Gaudreau, Matthew Tkachuk and Elias Lindholm. The Oilers spent most of the 2010s squandering draft picks, making horrible transactions or generally wasting their chances to build around the once-in-a-generation talent of Connor McDavid.

And yet, both franchises have been on the rise recently. Calgary was one of the NHL’s best teams throughout the 2021-22 regular season, with a deep roster, plenty of star power and a rock-solid goalie in Jacob Markstrom. Edmonton received its typical 1-2 superstar punch from McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, but the Oilers also finished the regular season as the best stretch-run team in the league according to Elo. Along those lines, both clubs were among the top three in goal differential over the second half of the schedule. These teams were in good form for their first playoff meeting since 1991, despite both requiring seven games to dispatch lower-seeded opponents in Round 1, and that showed with 15 total goals in Game 1.

After Calgary’s win, our model gives the Flames a 69 percent chance of winning the series and moving on to the Western Conference final. But if the history between these teams is any indication, anything can happen from here on out. In many ways, this series has been decades in the making — and not just because of the cartoonish, 1980s-style scoreline of the opener. While Alberta is no longer the center of the hockey universe it once was, the path to the Stanley Cup will still run through the province. And that means this rivalry is officially back as one of hockey’s best.

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Oilers’ Nurse named finalist for King Clancy Trophy alongside Getzlaf and Subban – Sportsnet.ca

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Edmonton Oilers defenceman Darnell Nurse has been named as one of the finalists for the King Clancy Memorial Trophy, awarded annually to the NHL player who “best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and has made a noteworthy humanitarian contribution in his community.”

Ryan Getzlaf of the Anaheim Ducks and P.K. Subban of the New Jersey Devils are the other two finalists who were announced Friday.

The winner will be announced on June 7 and chosen by a committee of senior NHL executives, led by commissioner Gary Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly.

Nurse has served as an ambassador for Free Play for Kids — providing marginalized children the ability to play sports in a safe, accessible and inclusive environment — and Right To Play — protecting, educating and empowering kids to rise above adversity through sports. He created the Darnell Nurse Excellence Scholarship last year partnering with his old high school, St. Thomas More Catholic Secondary School, to award a pair of scholarships to students pursuing post-secondary education.

Getzlaf called it a career at the end of the regular season after 17 years with Anaheim including the past 12 as Ducks’ captain. He helped found the “Anaheim Ducks Learn to Play powered by Ryan Getzlaf” providing first-time hockey players the opportunity to get on the ice and receive equipment for free. Getzlaf has also provided 9,500 kids with a complimentary first-time full set of equipment for completing a Learn to Play program and signing up for in-house league play. He has also raised more than $4.25 million over the past decade through the Getzlaf Golf Shootout to benefit CureDuchenne, which aims to save the lives of children affected by the muscular dystrophy disease.

Subban, who is a four-time finalist, launched the P.K. Subban Foundation in 2014, made a $10-million pledge to the Montreal’s Children’s Hospital in 2015 plus donations for Ukrainian cancer patients who have been displaced due to the ongoing war in their country. He also serves as the co-chair of the NHL’s Player Inclusion Committee.

Former Nashville Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne won the award last season.

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