USA vs. Finland FIBA World Cup: Game Grades, Analysis for Team USA vs. Wolf Pack

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USA vs. Finland FIBA World Cup: Game Grades, Analysis for Team USA vs. Wolf Pack
Joe Murphy/Getty Images
Team USA dominates Finland in Game 1 of the FIBA World Cup.

Following a summer full of anticipation, Team USA has finally kicked off the 2014 FIBA World Cup with a commanding 114-55 win over Finland. The tournament won't be won because of a single good game, but the showing we saw Saturday was emblematic of what we expect to see moving forward.

As efficient as the offense was for the star-laden group of NBA players, the defensive performance is what deserves the most recognition. Finland didn't score a single field goal in the second quarter, which translates to bad basketball no matter what country you're from.

To Finland's credit, the underdogs kept things close for the first five minutes of the game, but a 20-8 U.S. run to close out the first quarter was too much to recover from. Team USA went into the second period with a 15-point lead, and it never looked back, taking Game 1 of the tournament in blowout fashion.

 

Team USA Grades:

James Harden: B+

Anthony Davis: A

Derrick Rose: A-

Klay Thompson: A

Rest of Team: B+

 

James Harden: B+

USA TODAY Sports

Before the FIBA World Cup officially began, USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo sang Harden's praises. "Harden is kind of a natural leader and he seems to be willing to accept that role," Collangelo said, via Michael Lee of The Washington Post

As it turned out, Harden was in fact that leader in Game 1 of the tournament. He came out playing efficient basketball and was the team's leading scorer after the first quarter. His production slowed down once the game got out of hand and he was able to rest, but his seven early points and hustle on defense (he finished with four steals and one block) helped spark the team's blowout performance.

 

Alvaro Barrientos/Associated Press

Anthony Davis: A

Anthony Davis used Game 1 of the FIBA World Cup as a personal showcase. He's the next great superstar of the NBA, and he reminded fans across the world of that fact in just 14 total minutes.

In approximately nine first-half minutes, Davis recorded 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting, and he did it while utilizing his athleticism in face-up situations. He'd go on to finish with 17 points on 6-of-8 shooting, and while his defense didn't stick out as much as you might have expected it to on the box score, he was as menacing as ever when it came to shooing people away from the paint and adjusting shots at the rim.

 

Derrick Rose: A-

Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

Kyrie Irving may have earned the starting spot entering this contest, but Derrick Rose reminded us why he's on the roster when he came in off the bench: energy, athleticism and blinding quickness.

Although people will talk about Rose's explosiveness on offense, his efforts on defense are what should have everyone raving over his performance. Along with 12 points in nearly 23 minutes, he collected one steal and blocked two shots. He was also a plus-45 in the plus-minus category (game high), according to FIBA.com.

 

Klay Thompson: A

Against Finland, Klay Thompson did what Klay Thompson does. He shot threes, and he shot them at an extremely efficient rate.

Along with going 4-of-7 from deep, Thompson played well defensively (are you seeing a theme among Team USA's top performers?). You wouldn't know it by looking at the box score, but his rotations were quick, and that was the perfect complement to his 70 percent shooting from the field.

 

Rest of Team: B+

Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images

Simply put: When your team shoots 59 percent from the field while only allowing its opponents to shoot 28 percent, there aren't going to be many (if any) bad grades.

Games like this are important for Team USA because it creates cohesion on both ends of the floor. Blowouts allow the entire roster to make an appearance, which is crucial because both chemistry and experience will be more important as the tournament progresses.

Of "the rest," give Kenneth Faried and Rudy Gay a ton of credit. Faried played above the rim with high energy the whole way, and the two combined for an efficient 8-of-12 shooting. The team didn't see much out of the bottom of the rotation until garbage time, but the only disappointing surprise was Steph Curry's 0-of-5 three-point shooting.

 

Coming Up Next:

Team USA's next contest is against Turkey on Sunday, Aug. 31. Turkey is coming off a 76-73 win over New Zealand.

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