Kyrie Irving could be a top-5 player by 2016(photo credit: Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
Team USA’s intrasquad scrimmage at the end of last month showcased the young stars in the league today, but no star shone as bright as Cleveland Cavalier’s Kyrie Irving.
With a game-high 23 points, Irving led Team White to a 128-106 victory over Anthony Davis and Team Blue. Not only did Kyrie run the team efficiently, but the manner in which he did was spectacular. He scored in every way imaginable, from tough finishes at the rim with contact to stroking the three with confidence. Everything he did was in rhythm; shooting jumpers without hesitation, using the screen, and finding the open man off the dribble both in transition and in the half court. Even his defense was on show, stepping it up after getting burned by Damien Lillard a few times in the first quarter.
Dion Waiters and Tyler Zeller also participated in the Team USA scrimmage. Waiters had an underwhelming performance, shooting 2-10 for a measly five points. He took some very questionable jumpers, but also made some good plays. Zeller put in a solid game with 8 points and 5 boards, playing very well in pick-and-roll situations. It was promising to see for the upcoming season; Kyrie will run the offense and Zeller should contest the other Cleveland big men for minutes.
Irving’s performance may have cemented him as the best 21-or-under player in the NBA, as well as having the best handles of anyone in the league. Kyrie had a number of Iverson-esque crossover moves, sending whoever was defending him the other way. Irving’s finishing ability at the rim is also uncanny, especially with contact. He uses the glass as good as anyone in the league.
What Irving possesses is rare; his scoring ability matched with his point guard mentality makes him a very dangerous player in the league and puts him in the elite of the coming generation of players.
Irving is only getting better and he proved it in this scrimmage. At 21, he is just reaching his prime and could find himself as the best point in the entire league in the next couple of years.