CP3 is the POINT GAWD, and Kyrie is his POINT APOSTLE.
— Trevor Magnotti (@Tmagnotti) July 26, 2013
That was the theme of last night’s US Men’s National Team Showcase at the Team USA mini-camp in Las Vegas last night.
Among the 24 players at the camp, which features roughly 90% of the best young talent in the entire NBA, Kyrie Irving made the biggest impact of anyone at the Thomas and Mack Center last night. Playing for the White Team, which featured, among others, Ty Lawson, Paul George, Mike Conley, Jrue Holiday, and Andre Drummond, Irving took over the offense for the team, delivering a huge first half en route to a 128-106 thrashing. The numbers speak for themselves; Irving went 6-8 from the field, got to the line 10 times, and finished with 23 points, three rebounds, and seven assists. He led all in scoring, and finished second to Lawson in assists.
As you can see from that video, a couple fun things about this scrimmage let Kyrie show off last night. For one, the camp’s two best rim protectors, Drummond and DeAndre Jordan, were both on the white team last night. Staring at just Anthony Davis in the paint, once Irving got into the paint, he was free to attack the rim at will, which he certainly did, abusing Damian Lillard off the dribble and off screens for much of the first half.
However, Irving didn’t do all of his damage on the ball. With Conley, Lawson, and Holiday around, we got to see something I hope Jarrett Jack allows for more as well this season in Cleveland: Kyrie Irving moving off the ball. Irving got a couple chances to play off the ball last night, and while he was fairly quiet in this situation, he moved well off the ball and was able to pick his spots and create chances for himself off screens. Most of his damage came while attacking off the dribble, but it’s still nice to see that he got some time off the ball.
Also of note tonight is that Irving silenced two “better young point guard” debates in a deafening way last night, at least for now. Opposite Irving on the floor? Lillard and John Wall. Lillard got the start over Wall, and Irving LIT HIM UP, as you can see in the highlights above. Lillard has no positioning when Kyrie attempts to drive on him, and most of Kyrie’s points came from running Lillard off high screens and getting to the rim. Lillard was practically useless when it came to defending Irving last night. Lillard was also mostly a dud on offense, hitting just 1 of 5 threes and struggling to efficiently create offense. As for Wall, he did fair a little better defensively on Irving, but he also struggled offensively, finishing with just 2 assists and 10 points off 3-8 shooting. Also, it’s quite notable that Wall couldn’t crack the starting lineup for the Blue team, as the team went with Lillard and Dion Waiters to start the game. As far as these “debates” go, based on last night, it doesn’t look close. Irving had all eyes on him last night, and if there’s one guy who looks like a lock to join Team USA from this bunch of guards, it’s probably the Cleveland Cavaliers young star.