Rockets News

Team USA: Which Point Guard Will Function Best with James Harden?

By Brett David Roberts

Aug 15, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; USA guard James Harden during national team practice at Quest MultiSport Complex. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Team USA Coach Mike Kryzewski announced that his starting point guard spot will fluctuate between both Kyrie Irving and the rehabilitated Derrick Rose.

Rose has impressed throughout camp and his knee appears to be far better, though he has been cautious with it. Irving, meanwhile, has become a top-tier point guard in his own right and is one of the best creators off the dribble.

“We’ll see as thing goes on,” Krzyzewski said after Monday’s two-hour practice. “We might alternate ’em. Both of them are going to play significant minutes.”

The question is, which floor general Rockets shooting guard would function best with. Rose is great at getting into the paint, as is Harden. Opposing teams would run a high risk of getting into foul trouble with Derrick on the court. But the same can be said for Irving. Irving is a better shooter than Derrick Rose (37.8 percent career three-pointers for Irving; 31.2 percent for Rose).

The difference in the effect on Harden may be negligible. Both guards will penetrate and kick out to the Rockets’ superstar, and Harden is going to get his looks regardless of which point guard starts the game with him. It’s worth noting that Coach K has immense confidence in both point guards, but truly, Irving and Rose are very similar players.

Rose is a better finisher at his best, but Irving is a better outside shooter. Expect Team USA to tailor the lineup according to opposing team’s starting-5s.

Rose will be able to match up with bigger, more physical guards, while Irving’s fresh legs will be helpful in pestering smaller floor generals. Harden should thrive equally well with Irving and Rose, making this a bit of a trick question to begin with.

Perhaps as the tournament unravels, it will be more apparent which units function best together.

Source: Marc Stein, ESPN