Skip to main content

Cohesion no issue for Irving, Team USA

  • Author:
  • Publish date:

When the worst news of the exhibition season is DeMar DeRozan missing a 360 dunk, you know things are going you're way.

That's the story so far for the U.S. Olympic basketball team.

The Americans beat Argentina by 37. They pounded China by 49. And perhaps to show they're determined to improve, they played China one more time -- and won by 50.

These have been basketball massacres in every possible way.

With the likes of Kyrie Irving, DeRozan and some other first-time Olympians, it would probably be OK for the U.S. to seem a little clunky at first.

Instead, it's been the opposite of that.

The Americans are proving to not only have more talent and depth than the competition, but more cohesion as well.

"Every game we play is about us," Irving said. "How we come out, our approach, how we execute on both ends of the floor."

Check, check and triple check.

Through three exhibition games, the U.S. is averaging 108 points. The opposition? Try 63. And that's even rounding up a little.

Scroll to Continue

Read More

No wonder the worst thing U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski can say about his team is it's having "too much fun out there."

Krzyzewski was referring to some showboating in the second blowout of China, and he's probably right when he said, "We need to tone that down a little bit."

But it can also be difficult to take things seriously when things are running so smoothly.

Kevin Durant, Paul George, DeMarcus Cousins and Carmelo Anthony seem to have emerged as the leaders, but the U.S. is receiving contributions from everyone.

Irving is averaging 7.0 points and 4.7 assists -- numbers far below what he put up for the NBA champion Cavaliers. Then again, stats are beside the point.

It's easy to see Irving has the best interests of coach, team and country in mind. He has been directing traffic and taking care of the ball, usually delivering it to the right player at precisely the right time.

He even made sure Durant got to take the first shot in the Oracle. The Oracle is where the Warriors play home games, and the Warriors are Durant's new team.

"I'm just glad it went down for him," Irving said.

Now, the Americans take their show to Chicago, where they'll get in some practice before the next exhibition vs. Venezuela (Saturday, 9 p.m. EST).

These games don't matter, and there's still plenty of time before anyone can grasp the gold. But clearly, the U.S. is flying high and having fun.

About the only thing the Americans lack is someone who can finish a 360 dunk.