Team USA and their hopes to dominate international basketball for the foreseeable future appeared to dash away when news came out that LeBron James might not play in the 2014 World Championships or the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.
But somehow fans forgot about former No. 1 picks Kyrie Irving and Anthony Davis.
Irving and Davis shined in the Blue-White scrimmage Thursday night, with the White team winning 128-106 in Las Vegas. The two were part of a 28-player field hoping to impress president Jerry Colangelo and head coach Mike Kryzyzewski for a spot on the national team, and based off their performances they should prepare to collect some frequent flier miles.
Irving scored 16 of his 23 points in the first half, and added seven assists to lead a 10-point comeback for the White squad. The Cleveland Cavaliers point guard would dominate throughout, running the gamut of difficult, twisting shots in the lane to smooth shooting from beyond the arc.
Davis scored 22 points and pulled down seven rebounds for the Blue side. The 6-foot-10 New Orleans Pelicans forward missed 18 games of his rookie campaign due to injury, but flashed the versatile skills that made him the top selection in last year’s draft throughout the exhibition.
Davis also has a leg up on the competition, considering he was part of the 2012 squad that ran roughshod during the Olympic games in London last summer.
Several other players stood out, including Washington Wizards point guard John Wall and young big men Kenneth Faried and Greg Monroe.
Wall, another No. 1 pick back in 2010, scored 10 points including an astounding putback dunk that reminded fans he has the potential to be a top 10 player in the NBA.
Faried and Monroe traded blocks in one sequence, and together with Davis and Pistons center Andre Drummond, the USA’s frontline might be set for the next three Olympics.
Golden State Warriors forward Harrison Barnes might have had the play of the night when he threw down a left-handed slam over Ryan Anderson.
There were lots more highlights, and Team USA compiled them into a slow-motion video for fans to catch many of the nuances that typically buzz by at lightning speed.