Irving And Davis Make It Clear They’re The Future Of USA Basketball

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LAS VEGAS – Kyrie Irving and Anthony Davis likely had spots on next year’s U.S. National Team roster locked up before Thursday night. And if there was any doubt, the two former No. 1 picks likely removed it after their performance in the USA Basketball Showcase, a 128-106 victory for Irving’s White Team.

Irving got out in transition and sliced through the blue defense to the tune of a game-high 23 points (on just eight shots) and seven assists. He was the best player on the floor and made it clear that he’s not only a future National Team member but a star to watch in the upcoming NBA season.

“It’s a pick-and-roll league,” Damian Lillard said afterward, “and he’s really good at breaking guys down one-on-one. So if he has a pick-and-roll, a lot of times he has a big man in front of him and can take advantage of situations. When he gets that screen and has that big man on an island, he’s going to get around him and he can finish at the rim. When you have that type of handle and you can finish at the rim, that’s deadly.”

“I wanted to separate myself, somehow, from this group,” Irving said, “and show what I can bring to the team for next year.”

Playing alongside some other talented bigs, Davis looked like more of a stretch four on Thursday, showing off his ability to step outside and knock down jump shots. That might not be the role he plays with the National Team going forward, but he led the Blue Team with 22 points and seven rebounds. And after earning a gold medal as the 12th man on last year’s Olympic Team, he looks ready to take on a larger role for USA Basketball.

“As good as he was last year,” head coach Mike Krzyzewski said after the game, “he’s just stepped it up another couple of levels. And that was exciting to see. He got better throughout the week and put on a heck of a performance tonight.”

This was not a great environment to evaluate anybody’s readiness for international basketball. The two teams played with the international 3-point line and with FIBA officials, but not in a hostile environment or against international defenses. The pace was ridiculously fast (more than 100 possessions each in 48 minutes), with no savvy international guards stopping the U.S. fast breaks with timely fouls. Playing Spain in Madrid for the World Cup gold medal next summer would be an entirely different experience.

So Krzyzewski and USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo won’t be putting extra emphasis on these 48 minutes when determining who will be in their pool of players for the next three years. In fact, what may be more important is what these young players learn from this week and bring to their NBA teams in the fall.

“This was just another day in the life of our group,” Colangelo said. “We’re going to have a lot of time to evaluate the entire week, the game included. And we’re going to be watching each and every one them during the course of the season, because we have a lot of time on our side before we go forward.”

Still, in addition to Irving and Davis, there were a few players who likely enhanced their stock on Thursday, most of them on the winning White Team. Kenneth Faried and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist used their endless energy to put up solid numbers in minimal minutes. Jrue Holiday filled the boxscore with 12 points, seven rebounds and five assists. And Mike Conley and Ty Lawson proved to be a cohesive point-guard combo on the White Team’s second unit.

For the Blue Team, Harrison Barnes showed that he’s got the skills to be a small-ball (or international) four man, while Greg Monroe was solid inside with an ability to play off talented ball-handlers.

All of the above will certainly get serious consideration when Colangelo and Krzyzewski create a new pool of 25-28 players in January. From that pool, teams for the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics will be selected, though names can always be added or removed from the list. The pool will be made up of players that participated in this week’s camp, USA Basketball veterans, and a few other players who couldn’t participate this week.

“It’s a very fluid pool,” Colangelo said. “Guys are going to keep developing.”

The experience they gained this week will surely help them do that.

20 Comments

  1. Dock says:

    I’m so looking forward to this. Kyrie Irving throwing lobs to the Manimal. Jrue Holiday playing with Damian Lillard. Anthony Davis making the international elite looking silly. But they’ve got competition. Spain, Turkey, Serbia, France, and Lithuania. Those countries could all pull off an upset.

  2. ac says:

    Kyrie Irving will be the best point guard in the world in 3-4 years (if he stays healthy). Anthony Davis is also going to be a beast, very similar game to Bosh offensively but a much bigger impact player on the defensive end. If he develops a back to the basket post up game and extends his perimeter reach to the three, he will be almost unguardable.

    • Etienne says:

      Kyrie the best now pending rose comeback against chris paul deron Williams westbrook watch the tape his team were underdogs and he destroyed them google it if u need confirmation and he’s clutch fourth quarter kyrie and he makes it look easy

  3. Jay says:

    Hayward can ball really surprised how he guarded george on defense and wasnt scared to go at him on offense

  4. David says:

    Anthony Davis can play like that (mid-range jump shot, speed,handles) because he used to play the PG position while he was at HS.

  5. Mo says:

    Anybody still harping on his unibrow must be 12 years old. His unibrow isn’t even the worst unibrow I’ve ever seen. Relax and grow up.

  6. Mo says:

    migsrocks, get a clue. He markets that unibrow. He’ll make more money off of that unibrow alone than you’ll make in a lifetime.

  7. united brow says:

    uni brow is his look and he doesn’t want to change that. it makes him unique and shows that he doesn’t care what other people think of him.

  8. migsrocks says:

    Davis need to clean up those eye brows ….. USA basketball is watched world wide, make youreself presentable for the camera. You make millions look like it ….. just saying !!!!!

  9. Razor rah says:

    This is one of the toughest venue in the world and they need to market this camp better. When do you have all-star caliber players playing their hardest against other all-stars? This is the best it gets. The select teams and the Olympic teams inner competitions nothing is better! Both teams could win the nba finals or the Olympics with this collaboration of talent top to bottom. No contracts to worry about no one is a free agent and they are all playing for the love of the game. This is how we knew Jordan was better than Drexler, Barkley was better than Malone, Ewing was better than Robinson etc…. Kyrie, Anthony Davis and Jrue are truly remarkable players.

  10. Iceman says:

    Irving is gonna be the best the second best guard in the east this season ( after Rose) Anthony Davis is that dude young and can play some ball

  11. Irving is obviously the future of the nba right now….he should play for australia lol

  12. B Radd says:

    You better throw Paul George in the mix as well as Damian Lillard. Can anyone tell me why Roy Hibbert and Blake Griffin aren’t at camp?

    • bball247 says:

      Blake Griffin is currently on an international Nike tour. I don’t know but I think, my opinion, HIbbert is simply resting and conditioning his body. With his body type the NBA grind is hard on a big unagile 7foot plus big man.

  13. Bogeyman says:

    Kyrie Irving is the real deal! Confident move declaring himself for the US rather then opting for the guaranteed Olympic team roster spot with Australia. With Irving, Paul, Rose, Curry, George, Harden, Westbrook… thats a lot of talent at the guard spot with limited roster spots (and minutes).

  14. Fit says:

    everyone played great especial davis and kyrie except lillard

  15. Kyrie Irvin is obviously the future star of the NBA….maybe he should play for australia instead lol

  16. fmmoreno says:

    Anthony Davis is somehow the closest to Bill Russel… in the first quarter he easily swatted Farried shot…. Interesting to see how far they can go in too crowded western conference