How Kyrie Irving Fared in FIBA Group Play


Team USA stormed out of the gates in their first Group C pool matchup, downing Finland by almost 60 points. It was an impressive start to what should end up being an impressive showing by the Americans this summer in the FIBA World Cup. Despite the distractions of Paul George’s injury and Kevin Durant dropping himself from the roster, the Cleveland Cavaliers fan base has remained extremely optimistic all off-season long, especially when observing Team USA. This is because of how All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving has been playing, and starting, for the Americans. Beating out point guards such as John Wall and Damian Lillard for a spot on the final 12-man team, Irving has seized every moment of international basketball experience this summer.

With Derrick Rose still showing signs of working through his injury, Kyrie Irving was able to take center stage as one of the three starting guards for Team USA’s roster during their five-game stint in group play. He joined James Harden and Stephen Curry as the two other starting guards. But Irving has been the most consistent out of the group of American guards, playing discipline defense, scouting the floor as the court general and finding the Team USA bigs down low. And it shows on the stat sheets.

During his time as a starter Kyrie Irving has averaged 9.8 points, 3.8 assists, 3.0 rebounds and 2.2 steals, while shooting 52.6 percent from the field and 50 percent from three-point range. The only part of Irving’s game that has been lacking is his ability to get to the free throw line, but acting as more of an officiator rather than cutting to the bucket and drawing the foul. He’s been very efficient as a shooter, but has also not shot the ball over seven times in one match since group play began.

Although Harden has stuck out as the most talented player on this Team USA roster, Irving has been the glue holding this team together thus far. He is more focused in on distributing the ball to playmakers and buckling down on defense to help spark fast breaks. Both are things that Kyrie Irving will have to perfect for next season when he’s playing beside two greats in Kevin Love and LeBron James. Neither of those players are participating in Team USA activities this summer, but observing Kyrie play competitively amongst peers who are just a little less talented (in regards to the rest of the NBA) than Love and James has to have Cavs fans excited for this upcoming season.

In just five games Irving and the Americans have outscored their international opponents by 166 points. The closest of these games came against Turkey, a team that was predicted to give Team USA the most trouble in Group C. After being down five points at the half, Team USA pummeled Turkey in the second half, cruising to a 21-point victory. The most excruciating win for Team USA came against Finland in the opening match; the Americans bested the Finnish by 59 (!) points.

Kyrie Irving started in, and contributed toward, every victory so far for Team USA. Despite a scare at the end of Thursday’s game against Ukraine, Irving is 100 percent for their Round of 16 game against Mexico. It was very Cavs-like for fans to gasp after hearing about/seeing Irving go down — especially following George’s gut-wrenching injury during a Team USA scrimmage — but all is good in the Land and for the Americans. Team USA will tipoff against Mexico at 10 a.m. on Saturday. The game can be viewed on ESPN2 and the WatchESPN.

With little to worry about concerning Kyrie Irving’s injury, we should see him out on the court as the starter once again on Saturday, especially after the start he had to the FIBA World Cup.