QUEBEC CITY — OShae Brissett is about to get paid.
Not in the traditional NBA dollars immediately, most likely — that will eventually come we expect.
No, for now the payment will come in something perhaps even more valuable than the almighty buck: Real opportunity.
Brissett, 6-foot-8 and 210 pounds earned that opportunity in part this summer by joining Nick Nurse and Canada Basketball and the payback is coming at Raptors’ training camp.
You see Brissett, a 21-yearold native of Mississauga, had a choice this summer. He could have remained in North America and done the traditional summer workout prep with personal trainers that has become the norm for most NBA hopefuls and certainly most veterans.
Both Canada Basketball and USA Basketball can tell you just how many chose that path and the impact it had on the respective programs’ summer success.
But Brissett chose his own path by joining Canada until it got to the very end of an extended pre-tournament prep period that included training camp in Toronto, two games with Nigeria on home soil before heading over to Australia for five games in two weeks taking on the Boomers, New Zealand and the U.S.
“There is no other way to get into game shape than playing games and that is something my family and my agent, we all talked about and we knew it was the best decision for me to go down there,” Brissett said following the second day of training camp at Laval University. “Getting to know coach and getting to be in a different shape than everybody else by playing those games so it has helped a lot.
Brissett, who played two years at Syracuse, shone in Canada’s run-up to the FIBA World Cup but a bizarre injury that saw his knee swell up long after Canada’s game with New Zealand wound up cutting short his experience. When the team went on to China for the World Cup, Brissett headed home to rehab that knee.
Now some five weeks later, the knee is healed and Brissett is in a better position than ever to potentially break camp with the defending NBA champion Raptors.
Wild exaggeration, you’re saying right now? Understandable.
So here, maybe this will convince you.
“I’m not even sure he was factored in by much of our organization at all, other than ‘Well, let’s see what this kid can do.’,” Raptors head coach Nick Nurse said at the conclusion of his FIBA World Cup experience in China when asked about Brissett and his chances of sticking with the team.
“And now, I could see him with some progression, continuing his progression that he could hit the floor, man,” Nurse said. “He could hit the floor, he could make the team. There’s spots there, somebody’s got to make the team, and he seems to take well to our coaching. So that’s a good thing, a good start, right?”
The point here is Brissett is further along heading into camp with the Raptors than he would have been and it’s all because he said yes to Canada Baskeball and Nurse.
“Opportunity for sure,” he said of the doors that his time with Canada have opened for him. “Just because we ran the same plays down there really so I already knew a lot about coach’s terminology. We were able to make jokes a little bit about that. Just by the way he was able to teach me down there, it’s translating now in the three or four weeks I have been with the team. It has helped a lot.”
Then there’s the ability to just focus on his game rather than worrying about fitting in. Knowing coach Nurse having spent those weeks with him has taken away any apprehension Brissett might otherwise have felt in his first professional camp.
“Getting to know him on a personal level has helped me a lot,” Brissett said of Nurse. “Now I feel more comfortable coming to training camp. I was telling a lot of my friends if I was on any other team I would be nervous, out of my mind not knowing what to expect. But Team Canada and these past few weeks have helped me get to know a lot of guys on the team and guys get to know who I am as well.”
Now there are obvious obstacles to Brissett actually hitting the lottery and landing a spot among the 15 that will be on the Raptors roster.
First and foremost is he’s here on an Exhibit 10 contract, a one-year deal worth the minimum salary. In short the investment by the team is small in comparison to other players in camp. It doesn’t mean he can’t make the team. It just means he’ll have to do a little more to earn a spot on the roster because it could mean bumping someone else the team has more invested in.
Brissett knows the challenge in front of him.
“Right now I’m just trying to play my best,’ he said. “I’m excited more than anything just to be able to put on the jersey. It’s a team I grew up watching so I’m excited to be here. But I know if I can give my all and show what I can do then I have a better chance to really turn some heads for all the GMS and coaches and owners who are watching. That’s all I really want to do. I just want to play my best right now and let everything else handle itself.”
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019