YouTube Shorts Capitalizing On NBA’s Growing Popularity In Canada

Written By Jose Colorado on December 2, 2022
The NBA and YouTube Shorts partnership offers fans a look into the lives of seven players with a deep connection to Canada.

Canada sports bettors that love basketball are now one step closer to the action.

The NBA and YouTube Shorts have announced a new partnership deal offering fans an exclusive behind-the-scenes look into the lives of their favourite players. Marketed as the #NBAxYouTubeShorts movement, the candid access also connects some of Canada’s biggest YouTube Shorts creators with its top NBA talent.

Pre-game rituals, outfit selections and food reviews are just some of the most memorable moments being promised.

Basketball is more popular than ever in Canada at the moment.

Cheryl Sebastian, director of hlobal partnerships, NBA Canada, said she hopes this takes it one step further.

“We’re so excited to deliver exclusive content featuring some of the NBA’s brightest young stars, to basketball fans in Canada through YouTube Shorts.

“Our new partnership provides a fantastic platform to showcase the dynamic personalities of NBA players, with an assist from some of the most engaging and talented Canadian content creators.”

Some of Canada’s top NBA players featured in new collaboration

Unlike in YouTube’s traditional long-form content, Shorts are meant to be brief, punchy and digestible media for viewers. Under YouTube’s regulations, they cannot exceed 60 seconds. Thus, quirky content such as NBA players practicing on-court celebrations or working out with social media comedians will be prioritized.

Some of the snippets will be spearheaded by Canadian content creators. Other bits will be solely featuring the players, themselves.

Whatever the format, it is sure to be seen.

YouTube’s vice-president of creator products, Amjad Hanif, says Shorts get 30 billion views a day. Zooming out further, 1.5 billion people are watching them on a monthly basis.

To that end, here’s the list of names viewers will become most familiar with during the project:

  • Scottie Barnes (Toronto Raptors)
  • Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Oklahoma City Thunder)
  • Nickeil Alexander-Walker (Utah Jazz)
  • R.J. Barrett (New York Knicks)
  • Bennedict Mathurin (Indiana Pacers)
  • Luguentz Dort (OKC)
  • Dwight Powell (Dallas Mavericks)

Toronto Raptors star, Scottie Barnes, lone American featured

Among the names involved, Scottie Barnes is likely the most notable one for Canadian fans.

The Toronto Raptors’ small forward came on late to win the Rookie-of-the-Year award last season. Many Ontario sportsbooks had Barnes at +1100 to be named ROY of the before the season started. By February, Barnes’ odds were second-best at +500.

Unsurprisingly, YouTube will immediately put his fame to use as he will be learning on-court celebration dances with content creator, The Basement Gang, in an already pre-recorded segment.

Interestingly, Barnes – born in West Palm, FL – is the lone American NBA player in the #NBAxYouTubeShorts project. The other six players are Canadian.

But the budding star plays for the Raptors – hence the Canadian connection.

Quebecer Mathurin having historic NBA season, up for multiple awards

This season, a homegrown Canadian – Bennedict Mathurin (Montreal) – could pull off a similar come-from-behind win for the ROY.

Granted, sportsbooks currently have the Orlando Magic’s Paolo Banchero as the heavy odds-on favourite. But Mathurin is still within striking distance with the second-best odds.

While Banchero has certainly produced bigger stats thus far, his team has struggled. Orlando has one of the worst team records in the entire NBA and the forward has also already missed more than a handful of games due to injury.

In contrast, Mathurin has played more matches while his Indiana Pacers continue to exceed expectations. If the playoffs started today Indiana would be a top-four seed – something no sportsbook predicted prior to the season.

Regardless, here’s how Mathurin’s odds stack up at some of Ontario’s largest operators:


  • Banchero (1.25 European odds, -420 American odds)
  • Mathurin (3.50, +250)


  • Banchero (1.20, -500)
  • Mathurin (3.70, +270)


  • Banchero (1.22, -450)
  • Mathurin (3.70, +270)


  • Banchero (1.23, -425)
  • Mathurin (3.70, +270)

Mathurin among favourites to win Sixth Man of the Year Award

Remarkably, outside of the ROY award, the Quebecer also has a serious shot at Sixth Man of the Year honours. No player has ever won both awards in the same season so Mathurin has his sights set on NBA history.

Interestingly enough, currently many sportsbooks have Los Angeles Lakers guard Russell Westbrook as the odds-on favourite for the accolade. However, that appears very malleable at this point.

For starters, the Lakers have been overwhelmingly disappointing so far this season. Mathurin, meanwhile, has better individual stats than Westbrook in many of the major categories (e.g., points, shooting percentage) alongside a significantly better team record.

In other words, sports bettors may want keep their eyes on this moving forward.

Here are Mathurin’s odds for the Sixth Man of the Year:

  • BetMGM: 8.00, +700; third-best odds
  • Caesars: 7.50, +650; fourth-best odds
  • DraftKings: 7.50, +650; fourth-best odds

Canadian Shai Gilgeous-Alexander heavy favourite for Most Improved Player Award

Outside of Mathurin, the NBA world has been abuzz about Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s play thus far in the young season.

The Toronto-native is currently averaging career-highs in points, assists and field goal percentage.

That has him as the run-away favourite for the NBA’s Most Improved Player Award at multiple sportsbooks:

  • BetMGM: 1.65 European odds, -153 American odds
  • Caesars: 1.64, -155
  • DraftKings: 1.60, -165

The next closest is Lauri Markkanen (Utah Jazz) at 4.5, +350 odds.

YouTube capitalizes on Canadian golden generation of players

Taken together, Gilgeous-Alexander and Mathurin serve as a microcosm of what has transpired in Canadian basketball of late. Indeed, when it comes to the game’s history in our country, there have been higher peaks.

For example, some pundits will point to the Toronto Raptors 2019 NBA championship as the pinnacle of Canadian basketball. Others will reference Steve Nash’s historic back-to-back MVPs in the mid 2000s.

However, at no other time in NBA history has there been more steady and impactful Canadians – such as Gilgeous-Alexander and Mathurin – than today.

Consider outside of the aforementioned names in the NBA – YouTube Shorts partnership, many other Canadian players are also ascending to all-star levels including Andrew Wiggins (Vaughn, ON) and Jamal Murray (Kitchener, ON). Others such as Shaedon Sharpe (London, ON) and Luguentz Dort (Montreal, QC) are promising prospects.

And from a popularity perspective, the game has never been bigger.

Partnership delivers new way to connect with Canadian NBA fans

Now – said Alyssa Whited, YouTube Canada’s marketing lead – it is simply a matter of capitalizing on that attention and talent.

“YouTube has long been a place where Canadian basketball fans can see full-game highlights or top plays.

“Together with the NBA, we wanted to take the fan experience one step further by showing a side of the players fans don’t get to see on the court, and shine a spotlight on the incredible talent from, and playing in Canada that we have in the league, and on YouTube.”

NBA Canada Series and All-Star weekend also included in Shorts

Throughout the NBA season, viewers will be given exclusive access to special events and outings.

Two of the more memorable ones include the NBA Canada Series and All-Star weekend. The former is a series of annual exhibition games held in Canada (outside of Toronto) meanwhile the latter should see multiple Canadians vying for a potential spot this year.

Beyond the NBA players, the following Canadian content creators are also included in the partnership:

  • Basement Gang
  • Jad Slaibeh (Chad with a J)
  • Jaclyn Forbes
  • Neema Naz
  • Torri Webster
  • Harjit & Jaz (YouTube TV)
Photo by Shutterstock
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Jose Colorado

Jose Colorado is a British Columbia-based writer. He lives in Burnaby and loves sports, anime, writing, business and the occasional walk on the beach.

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