[From the FanPosts, IrrationalConfidenceGuy shares the goods on Paul George's week with USA Basketball in Vegas. - TL]
Over the last few days in Las Vegas, Nevada as the final games of the summer league wrapped up, the 2013 USA Basketball Men's National Team Mini-Camp got underway. Some of the best young stars in the NBA were invited to go, including Anthony Davis, Damian Lillard, John Wall, Harrison Barnes, Kenneth Faried, and All-Stars Kyrie Irving, Jrue Holiday, and our very own little 23 year-old superstar in the making Paul George.
This isn't too much of a surprise that George was on that team because he was on the 2012 USA Men's Select Team Roster that got to train with the Olympic team before they won gold in London, and George has said that was a great experience because he got to challenge himself against the best and become a better player.
But this year, he was going up against level competition. Only three All-Stars were invited to the camp, and George was one of them. He was one of the best players there, and if he played well enough he would earn a spot on the 2014 FIBA World Cup Roster for Team USA. I may not have been able to watch every practice or even see the whole scrimmage, (which will air on NBATV at 9pm ET July 26, and 6:30pm ET July 27) but I think George earned himself a spot on the roster, here's why.
There isn't a lot of full practice video, but there are some fun highlight videos in the NBA's Phantom Cam (because they take that thing f***ing everywhere) from Day 1 (what happened to Gordon Hayward's beautiful hair!?) and Day 2, plus a fun little dunk fest. (Paul isn't in the dunking video, but it's just fun to watch DeAndre Jordan dodge shots from the other people in shootaround while he's dunking) And your eyes do not deceive you, that is our beloved George rocking a #29 USA jersey hustling for blocks, throwing in-bounds passes, and dunking on people. He looked to be giving a lot of good effort, and making good plays. He looked good.
Another video that featured Paul George was a video of Coach Mike Krzyzewski mic'd up for the practices. At the 0:16 mark, Coach K has a nice little conversation with George.
"You're getting a lot better, and you can still get a lot better," Krzyzewski tell him
"A lot better," George says confidently
"And this kind of stuff I can tell you, from doing this for seven years all those guys got better." Krzyzewski says, "Playing against some of the best players, makes you a better player."
"Yes sir," said George. Yes sir.
Coach K definitely liked what he saw in George over those two days of practice, because in the scrimmage that took place yesterday between the Blue and White teams Paul George started at small forward for the White team over Chandler Parsons and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Now starting over those who isn't that big of a deal, because we know George is better than both of them, but what is important is how much George played.
George played 25 minutes, had 10 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 turnovers, 5 fouls, shot 3-10 from the field, and 1-4 from 3-point range. Not the nicest stat line of the night by a long shot, but he played the 3rd most minutes of any player. When you're trying to make a team, getting playing time is the most important thing. The more time on the floor, the more opportunities you get to showcase your skills. While the stats may not have been stellar, there's no doubt George gave 110%.
The full box score shows that Kyrie Irving dropped 23 points on 8 shots and 7 assists. I said in my last FanPost that Irving was "extremely entertaining," and he did not prove me wrong. Anthony Davis scored 22 points and had 7 rebounds. Both of those guys definitely earned themselves spots on the World Cup team.
George may not have scored 20 points like Irving and Davis, but those two were among only three who scored more than 12 points in that game (Harrison Barnes scored 18 off the bench for the Blue team). Paul George getting those kind of minutes even while in foul trouble means that he is getting a serious look at making the squad to compete for a world title in Spain.
With LeBron James, the normal starting small forward, likely done playing for Team USA, there is a need for a new wing player. Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony are locks to make the squad at small forward, and both of them could move around to play the 2 or the 4. So if they want another player at the 3 position, George is their #1 guy.