Jamal Murray scored 30 points today, leading the World Team to a thrilling 103-101 victory over Team USA in the Nike Hoop Summit in Portland.
Team USA had a chance to either tie or win the game late with an in-bounds play under their hoop. But Allonzo Trier’s shot from the corner sailed way left, and the World won for the third time in the last four games.
“It’s been a phenomenal group, real character kids, a lot of fun to coach, willing to make sacrifices for each other, and that’s not easy to do when you have kids as touted as they are come together in a week as they did from all over the world,” World Team coach Roy Rana said after the game.
The World Team jumped out to a quick start, leading 12-0 as USA tried to play a halfcourt affair against the longer international players. USA quickly adjusted though, and began playing high-pressure, uptempo basketball to try to counteract that length. They succeeded at points in making it something of a track meet, as the two teams played 88 possessions in the 40-minute game.
Coach Eric Flannery also started going smaller, playing Jaylen Brown and Brandon Ingram at the 4 in order to try to space the floor and force mismatches against the big guys. It worked for the second and third quarters, as the US took leads throughout both quarters. But eventually the World started to assert their will again, and if not for some late-game blunders in execution likely would have won it by more than the two points they did.
Below, I’ve broken down each player’s performance in the game, as well as included their stats.
Jamal Murray: 30 points, 12-23 FG, five assists, two rebounds, three turnovers
Murray showed off his entire repertoire in this one, and was clearly the best player in the game. He knocked down three open 3-pointers, displaying range out to the NBA line. He attacked at every single opportunity, showing off terrific shiftiness and change of direction with his ball-handling ability, as well as the ability to change speeds. There was one play before the half where he took a hand-off, dribbled into the midrange, then unleashed a nasty little low crossover to get to beat his man and get to the rim, where he converted a sweet finger roll high off the glass. He also did this in transition:
Simply put, he has every single trick in the book right now when it comes to scoring the basketball, and for me his No. 58 composite ranking (per 247Sports) in the 2016 recruiting class vastly underrates his skill level. He’s also a candidate to reclassify to the 2015 class, which I asked him about after the game.
“Reclassifying is still an option,” Murray said. “I haven’t put a lot of thought into it, I’ve been very busy. Just trying to find a time to sit down with my dad and my coaches and really discuss it.”
If he was to enter this class, I would think he’d immediately vault into the top-20 players. Honestly, after seeing them both all week in practice, I’d probably rather have him than Allonzo Trier, the No. 15 player in the 2015 recruiting class, which says a lot about where his game is right now. If he was to return to prep school, he’d simply be wasting his time from a basketball perspective. A terrific, breakout-type performance from Murray on a big stage.
Skal Labissiere: 21 points, 9-15 FG, six rebounds, six blocks
Labissiere basically did in the game what he’s done all week in practice, showing off a vast array of skills that should make him the early leader in the clubhouse to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 draft. He already has a really pretty midrange jumper, terrific touch on his hook shot from out to 10 feet, and a terrific motor for offensive rebounds, where he’s lethal on put-backs due to his soft hands and touch. Defensively he was also a monster today, blocking six USA shots, some of which came after he stayed with his man on the perimeter after a slash. His timing is superb on those blocks, and his length also came in handy at the end of the game where he contested both Trier’s final look at the buzzer and Kennard’s previous shot.
Overall, just an incredibly impressive week from the future Kentucky Wildcat, who should continue to blossom as his body keeps filling out and his skills continue to improve.
Ben Simmons: 13 points, 5-10 FG, nine rebounds, nine assists, four turnovers
Simmons is another contender for the No. 1 pick in 2016, and he showed off his overall game on Saturday. He set the World Team record for assists in the event with nine, including a beautiful one in the lane on a behind the back pass to Labissiere that led to a slam from the Haitian forward. His playmaking for others was terrific, and his finishing around the rim was also great as he used both hands to lay the ball in. The LSU-bound forward has the body to play in the NBA right now at 6-foot-10, 240 pounds, and his ability to push the ball in transition is really impressive for a player his size.
Still there are some question marks here that showed up in this game as well as in practice this week. He still leaves his feet a bit too early and can himself into trouble without any options. And also, I’m not entirely sure what to do with him in the halfcourt right now because he can’t really shoot yet, and also doesn’t quite utilize the pick-and-roll as effectively as he could. But still, this is a high-IQ kid that will star for the Tigers next season, and almost assuredly will go in the top-five of the 2016 draft.
George Lucas de Paula: Three points, one rebounds, zero assists, two turnovers
George had a rough game following what was a rough week at practice. He only knocked down one 3-pointer, and didn’t really handle the high pressure from Team USA well. His size is still extremely intriguing and his defense is really good for a young player, but offensively he’s just so far away from making an impact. I’m not even sure he’d be an impact player on that end if he’d play collegiately next season. To me, he’s worth a second-round flier but not worth a first round pick. He’s 2-3 years from being an NBA player, at best.
Thon Maker: Two points, 0-5 FG, 10 rebounds, one block
A largely forgettable performance from Maker, who was pretty invisible on offense for most of the proceedings. He made his presence known on the glass and in the paint with his length, but none of the perimeter skills he’s shown in the past were on display here. Maker should go to college next season, continue to add strength, continue to develop his feel for the game, and hope for the best. The size, wingspan, and shooting combination is still interesting for NBA teams, but his play this week showed he’s not ready to even be considering playing professionally next year.
Cheick Diallo: 12 points, 5-9 FG, six rebounds, three blocks
Diallo continued to out-motor everyone all over the floor on Saturday like he’d done all week. He runs the floor as well as any big man I’ve ever seen at 18-years-old, both athletically and in how hard he actually moves. The skill level is still low — he doesn’t handle the ball well in the halfcourt and can’t shoot — but imagine him as something of a rich man’s Jameel McKay at Iowa State. If he goes to the right uptempo system, he could really be great next season in college. Plus, you know the defense is always going to be there due to that energy and his 7-foot-4 wingspan. To me, he looks like a solid first-round pick eventually that will make a coach very happy.
Zhou Qi: Two points, three rebounds, two blocks
Zhou gets an incomplete grade this week. He hurt his ankle on Monday, meaning he sat out the next three days worth of scrimmages, and was used sparingly in this game. There’s nothing that he can really do offensively at this stage due to his weak frame, but defensively there was actually a pretty solid amount to like from what we saw today. He blocked two shots and affected quite a few others in the paint, and also moved relatively well in space when matched up late against wings Jaylen Brown and Brandon Ingram. He’s very much an unfinished product whose status is up in the air as far as what draft he’ll end up in, but whenever he decides to go he’ll be a first round pick based on potential alone.
Nedim Buza: Six points, 2-2 3PT, one rebound
Pretty much what was expected from Buza. He knocked down a couple of 3s, and has a solid frame with which to project him in the NBA. Assuming he declares this year, the feeling around practice this week was that someone would draft him in the second round and let him develop over in Europe for a couple of years. At 6-foot-8 with a 6-11 wingspan, there are certainly worse European projects you can take.
Federico Mussini: Nine points, 2-5 3PT, three assists, three turnovers
Mussini had been terrific in practice this week, but he struggled a bit early adjusting to the general length of the USA team at only 6-1, 155 pounds. Still, he ended up okay and closed the game for the World Team, knocking down a pair of 3s and getting fouled on another late, where he knocked down all three free throws. Mussini is among the more polished and skilled players you’ll see at his age, and will likely go to college it seems, as St. John’s and Gonzaga are both in on him. I’m all for watching him in college for four years because he’s a really fun player, so I hope this comes to fruition.
Tai Wynyard: Two points, two assists, one rebound
The youngest player in the field and future Kentucky player was okay today. He just turned 17 years old, and he had a very nice post move against Isaiah Briscoe following a switch, where he made a nice pivot on his right foot and went up over his right shoulder for a bucket. He played fewer minutes than anyone on the World Team.
Stefan Peno: Three points, 1-3 3PT, one turnover
Peno was the least impressive player all week in practice from either team, and didn’t look much better in the game. I’ll just leave it at that.
Luke Kennard: 22 points, 9-18 FG, five rebounds, two assists
Kennard was the best player for Team USA today, finishing off a solid week with a standout performance. He made shots from all over the floor: midrange pull-ups off of both pump fakes and dribble drives, spot-up 3s, lay-ups at the rim both in half court and transition. He was just a solid offensive player, period. He’s a guy that you can always trust to make the right decision, and always trust to knock down open shots. He’ll fit in perfectly into the Duke mold of Jon Scheyer, J.J. Redick-type guards, and I believe that he will play in the NBA one day.
Isaiah Briscoe: Nine points, nine assists, four rebounds, three steals, two turnovers
Briscoe was solid in creating offense both for himself and for others on the American team. His nine assists were very indicative of his passing ability, as he was able to plow through the World’s defense whenever he wanted and get into the lane, where the defense collapsed on him. He’s a bowling ball with good instincts, and the right feel for when to go up for a lay-up or dump the ball off to a teammate. That’s going to work well next season if John Calipari decides to use more of his renowned dribble-drive offense (he got away from it a bit this year), as he and Tyler Ulis will be able to take turns driving into the teeth of the defense. His NBA prospects are a bit murkier, and I’m not sure he’s a one-and-done guy, but for that Kentucky system, he’ll fit right in.
Stephen Zimmerman: Eight points, 4-6 FG, two rebounds, two steals, two blocks
Zimmerman may have had the best day from an NBA perspective today, as his length and activity on defense was absolutely terrific. His physicality and length bothered Labissiere at differing points of the game, and his hands were active in passing lanes where he picked up a couple of steals. He also made a couple of nice midrange jumpers, which point to his ability to possibly become a stretch-five type guy.
Basically, Zimmerman is the type of modern center that NBA teams are looking for. They want guys who can clear out the lane for their guards by knocking down jumpers, and guys who can protect the rim. With his 7-foot frame and 7-foot-3 wingspan, as well as his mobile legs, Zimmerman can do all of those things. For me, he was one of the most impressive prospects in Portland this week for what NBA teams are currently looking for. Depending on where he ends up, he has potential to be a one-and-done player.
Brandon Ingram: 12 points, 5-6 FG, three rebounds, one assist
Ingram played a “small-ball” 4 (in quotations because he’s still nearly 6-foot-10, after all) for a majority of his minutes, and it’s a role he excelled in against the bigger World frontline. Ingram showed off the ability to pull up off the dribble in the midrange for jumpers, the ability to slash in the lane for lay-ins, as well as get out in transition for a guy his size. He still needs to put on a lot of weight, but with his 7-foot-3 wingspan and his smooth athleticism, he could end up being one of the better prospects in this class when it’s all said and done. Defensively he’s more of a mixed bag, as his stance is rather hunched over and isn’t ideal. The key will be making the right college decision, and ending up in the right situation that will play him in the role he was deployed in today. A developmental guy, but one that could really blossom soon.
Jaylen Brown: Eight points, 2-9 FG, two rebounds
Brown didn’t have a great day, as it looked like he was still battling a hip injury that he sustained earlier in the week. He did have a nice slam in traffic where he got excellent elevation, but ultimately he didn’t look particularly explosive with his first step and struggled to get any separation. I don’t think there’s a lot to take away from this week from him. He’s still one of the elite prospects in this class, and could end up being a top-five pick in 2016. Now, we’ll wait to see what happens with his college decision in the coming weeks.
Malik Newman: 10 points, 4-8 FG, two steals, 2-4 3PA
Newman, along with Brown, was one of the two best prospects on the world team coming into this game. And overall, Newman was okay. He only played 16 minutes because of how effective Kennard was in spacing the floor against the long World Team, but in that time he sank a pair of 3s and grabbed a couple of steals. He also dished off a nice pass in transition that led to a bucket. His NBA hopes completely change if he’s capable of he’s capable of playing a lead guard role instead of just a straight two-guard, as I have some concerns about his finishing at the rim due to his small wingspan. But his shot was solid a lot of the week, as it’s fluid and he gets nice elevation on his jumper. I’m a fan of his, and I’ll be anxiously awaiting his decision in a couple of weeks as well.
Jalen Brunson: 12 points, seven assists, one turnover
Brunson was the prototypical floor-setting point guard Saturday, especially as his team got out in transition and tried to create a track meet-like environment. The team’s zone offense also improved immeasurably with Brunson in as opposed to Briscoe. His array of pass fakes and shot fakes forced the defense to over-commit, and helped the US team get better ball-movement and spacing against the defense. He also had a nice floater in the middle of the lane himself, and went a solid 8-8 from the line. I’m not particularly sure how great his pro prospects are due to middling size and athleticism, but he’ll be the absolute perfect point guard in Jay Wright’s system, and could easily end up as a four-year starter there. A smart, heady point guard that every coach would enjoy.
Allonzo Trier: 11 points, 4-12 FG, 2-5 3PT, two assists
Trier is a scorer, through and through, and the rest of his game hasn’t quite developed beyond that point yet. So today was something of a rough day for him. His shot wasn’t really going outside of the two 3s he knocked down, and he was pretty clearly affected by the sheer amount of length in the lane. He won’t have to face that kind of length much in college though, so I wouldn’t read too much into this rougher performance. He’s still a pretty bouncy athlete, and his shooting has improved a lot if this week is any indication. Plus, his handle is strong enough to where he can get a reasonably clean look at any time. He’s going to get buckets at Arizona this coming season. Beyond that, who knows given that he’s not a particularly long athlete and he’s a year older than his class. But for next year, I’m pretty high on Trier being a great collegiate scorer.
Caleb Swanigan: Two points, 1-4 FG, three rebounds
Swanigan really struggled with the length of the World Team. He just could never really get going, and struggled to use his size advantage against the skinnier opposition. At just 6-foot-7.75, these are the kind of issues he might have at the next level. His massive wingspan will help, but he needs to learn to play just a bit better against longer players. Luckily for him, he’s going to one of the best big man coaches in the country in Tom Izzo at Michigan State, and should learn a lot about how to use his size to his advantage. Check back in on him in two years, I’d say.
Chase Jeter: Five points, five rebounds, one steal, 1-5 FG
Jeter is another player that seemed to struggle to finish against the World Team’s length. His physical tools are certainly there, but the skill level just isn’t quite there yet. Which is okay, given that he was the youngest of the big men in camp this week. He’s not a one-and-done, but he will certainly have a shot at the NBA due to his athleticism and size.
Ivan Rabb: Two points, three rebounds
Rabb only played nine minutes today. There wasn’t really an indication as to why after the game, but it’s worth mentioning that he was icing his knees in Friday’s scrimmage. Not much to take away from this game from him.