Who else out there missed watching Kyrie Irving play? Any discussion of what the Cavalier's ceiling is has to start with the fact that Irving is one of the best basketball players in the world. He showed that on Thursday night as Team USA held an intra-squad scrimmage featuring some of the best young players the US has to offer as they compete for a chance to play in the 2014 World Championships, and the 2016 Olympics.
Irving led all scorers with 23 points in leading his White team to a victory over the Blue team featuring Dion Waiters and Tyler Zeller. He also notched 7 assists, and more than a few "ahh" incuding plays from the crowd. Anthony Davis scored 22 for the Blue squad and looked fantastic. Can you imagine if the Cavs had won the first overall pick in last year's draft? Irving got his 23 points in the same way we are used to seeing him be successful. He can hit from three and finish at the rim with either hand. Damian Lillard was pretty powerless to stop him, but we saw that in the regular season too so there isn't any real news there.
Still, while there was some pretty competitive play (I saw multiple people on twitter compare the game favorably to the All-Star game, and I agree) it was still a scrimmage, and there was bad defense, a lack of communication, and some poor chemistry for both teams. This makes sense, as the teams were thrown together pretty quickly. Seeing Paul George, Anthony Davis, Irving, Mike Conley and some other really great NBA players in the middle of a non-Olympics summer was pretty fun.
As for Dion Waiters and Tyler Zeller's less triumphant performances, I would simply say that it is hard to worry too much about whether they can get in a rhythm playing with totally new players, in a totally new system, all while simply trying to establish themselves. Waiters was placed in the starting lineup, which is a good indication that he has been impressing the Team USA coaches in practice. I remain a little worried about his shot selection, and if he understands what makes him a good player, but this type of game is simply not a place to draw any conclusions. We will see how he does in Mike Brown's system. Zeller is a little out of his league with Team USA, but he held his own. He has clearly put on some weight and it would be normal for him to have to take some time to adjust to playing with it. Not a discouraging result by any means.
But in the meantime, Kyrie Irving remains an incredible offensive point guard. He showed it against some really good players last night.
This link will get you to highlights of the game.