Kyrie Irving and Anthony Davis shined in Thursday’s Showcase. (Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images)
USA Basketball’s four-day summer mini-camp in Las Vegas closed up shop Thursday night with an intra-squad scrimmage that split the 28 young players vying for a slot on the U.S. men’s national basketball team and gave them an opportunity to state their cases for inclusion on America’s 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup roster. The White team beat the Blue team 128-106 to win the 2013 USA Basketball Showcase in a game that rarely featured much structure or cohesion (par for the course when dealing with players who’ve hardly ever played together) but did feature a number of thrilling plays and feats of athleticism (par for the course when dealing with some of the best young talent in the NBA, and also Creighton’s Doug McDermott).
In case you missed the game — I can’t believe you weren’t glued to NBA TV at 9 p.m. ET on a Thursday night in late July, slacker — here’s the top of the pops from the scrimmage. We begin with Anthony Davis — who’s entering only his second NBA season with the New Orleans Pelicans but was also the only player in Vegas who’d actually suited up for Team USA (when he remembered his jersey, at least) — showcasing his all-court skill-set by turning eye-popping defense into thunderous offense:
Next up, possibly-soon-to-be-$80-million-man John Wall of the Washington Wizards getting up to clean up a miss off the offensive glass:
The loudest individual moment of the game, though, probably came when Golden State Warriors swingman Harrison Barnes elected to remind Pelicans head coach and Team USA assistant Monty Williams why he is pretty uncomfortable with the idea of asking Ryan Anderson to guard quick dudes on the perimeter:
But the most consistently brilliant thing on display Thursday was Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving, who celebrated the announcement that he’ll appear on the cover of “NBA Live 14” by showing that he was the best player on the floor, scoring 23 points and dishing seven assists in just 19 minutes of action to pace the White team to the win:
Sure, that’s a collection of plays rather than one individual highlight, but you could make an argument that any of a number of the 21-year-old triggerman’s shake-and-bake moves — I’m pretty partial to the right-to-left crossover at :16 that leaves Damian Lillard and leads to a finish over the hard-foulin’ Greg Monroe, the split of the pick-and-roll at finish at around the 50-second mark and the Shammgod at around 1:10 — go toe-to-toe with any of the dunks, I think.
So which one’s your favorite, and which players from Thursday’s scrimmage would you most like to see don the red, white and blue in Spain next summer? Let us know in the comments below, on Facebook or on Twitter.
(The real answer, of course, is Secret Option E: U.S. Air Force service member Nathaniel Mills throwing down a windmill in fatigues and boots. Once that happened, everybody — even Kyrie — was playing for second.)
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