After a bit of a dramatic game this past Sunday for USA Basketball in the team’s pre-World Cup showcase, the Americans left no doubt on Friday night in Abu Dhabi, coasting by Greece 108-86. Steve Kerr’s team never trailed in the win, moving to a perfect 4-0 on their tour, with the finale coming on Sunday against Germany (Noon ET on FOX and the FOX Sports app).

The Greeks made it interesting, but only for a moment. Cutting the USA lead to 37-31 with a 12-0 run to seize some momentum, the Americans needed someone to respond. The same man who’s been delivering those types of plays did just that, and was only just beginning his dominant performance over the Greeks. 

Anthony Edwards hit a jumper with the foul to reestablish control. While Greece was within 11 at halftime, the Minnesota Timberwolves superstar scored 12 of his game-high 21 points in the first four minutes of the third quarter to put any idea of the Greeks hanging around to bed. 

[Fanta: USA tested, but Jalen Brunson, Anthony Edwards power Americans past Spain]

With six players scoring in double-figures and 11 players registering double-digit minutes in the matchup, Friday’s game showcased the depth of this team, which was assembled by first-year USA managing director Grant Hill. Here are the takeaways from the win. 

Anthony Edwards deserves a slot on the Olympics roster next summer 

It’s not even a warm take at this point. Edwards is tracking to be one of the NBA’s best players. In my opinion, he’s already a superstar at 22 years of age, showcasing his arsenal this past April in the playoffs against the Nuggets and just adding to it throughout this United States showcase. In four games, he’s averaged 15.5 points on 27-of-53 from the floor. 

Anthony Edwards comes away with a steal and <a href=

Anthony Edwards comes away with a steal and <a href=

When Hill and his group are deciding on their Olympics roster for next summer in Paris, it feels like a no-brainer to include Edwards on that team. He’s made the game look easy in international competition and could very well be the top reason why this USA team contends for a World Cup crown. 

Bobby Portis gives this team experience and toughness 

This United States team is one of the youngest groups ever assembled in the country’s international tournament history, with an average age of 25.2. None of the players on the team have a single game of senior-level international tournament experience.

With that in mind, this showcase has not only been helpful for the Americans to get into a rhythm, but to also develop an identity. When it comes to sparking plays on the defensive end or providing a boost of intensity and attitude on the floor, Bobby Portis has handled that role to a tee. With less than four minutes left in the third quarter on Friday, the 2021 world champion with his Milwaukee Bucks flew above the rim for one of the plays of the game. 

Bobby Portis throws down a one-handed slam, extending Team USA’s lead vs. Greece

Bobby Portis throws down a one-handed slam, extending Team USA's lead vs. Greece

Not only does Portis provide explosiveness like this, but the fact he can step in as this USA team’s center and look as comfortable as he does just showcases how much versatility Steve Kerr has to work with. Starting center Jaren Jackson Jr. only played 10 minutes on Friday. The United States didn’t need him to play a prominent role as Kerr elected to give Utah Jazz All-NBA Rookie Team selection Walker Kessler some more run with 16 minutes. 

In 11 minutes, Portis supplied 10 points, seven rebounds and had a plus/minus of +14. When the veteran is on the court, good things typically happen for the Americans. 

Lakers rising standout Austin Reaves continues to shine

Has anyone’s stock risen over the last six months more than Reaves? The man who became the third option during the Los Angeles Lakers’ playoff run, much to the delight of LeBron James, received his due in July with a four-year, $56 million early bird maximum contract extension. 

Earlier this week, reports emerged that Reaves has really impressed Kerr and his staff in this leadup period to the World Cup. In 15 minutes on Friday, the 25-year-old sharpshooter delivered 11 points while shooting 2-of-3 from downtown. 

In international competition, identifying your leader in clutch situations is obviously key, and this USA squad has that in Edwards as well as Jalen Brunson. But complementary shot-making is going to be important for this group to win a World Cup title. After a 10-for-18 performance from downtown in Sunday’s win over Spain, the U.S. went 11-for-26 from 3-point range on Friday. This is a big shift from shooting just 25% in their first two showcase games. What’s impressive about Reaves is that he’s shown his ability to attack and finish at the rim as well with plays like this: 

Austin Reaves finishes the layup plus a foul to extend Team USA’s lead over Greece

Austin Reaves finishes the layup plus a foul to extend Team USA's lead over Greece

Reaves has proven to be a really nice tool in Kerr’s box off the bench. His basketball IQ is excellent and he doesn’t try to do too much. 

Brooklyn Nets duo of Bridges, Johnson has been productive 

While the Nets restructured their organization this past season, they built up great assets for their future and continue to find out that they’ve got quite the emerging duo in Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson. 

After the duo was included in the Kevin Durant blockbuster deal this past February, they played some of the best basketball of their respective careers in Brooklyn. That led Johnson to getting a four-year deal worth $108 million as he and Bridges will continue to team up for years to come.

After combining for 21 points in Sunday’s win over Spain, the duo supplied 23 and six assists on Friday, with Johnson delivering three triples off the bench. Bringing in long wings who can make plays defensively and also knock down shots was a priority for Hill in building his team. Getting a pair of teammates who are comfortable playing with one another and who understand their roles well has led to them also being a really nice fit for this team. 

Team USA vs. Greece Highlights

Team USA vs. Greece Highlights

Something to work on this Sunday against Germany

Turnovers. Whether it was the United States building an 18-point lead early in the second quarter or not, the Americans did have some sloppy play in Friday’s win.

For a second consecutive game, Team USA turned the ball over 20 times, with Tyrese Haliburton and Johnson contributing four of those giveaways apiece. It didn’t end up being an issue in Friday’s rout, but avoiding complacency in games is going to be key for this team to win a World Cup. 

The Americans let Greece get within two possessions halfway through the second quarter on Friday simply because they took their foot off the gas pedal. Being cleaner with the basketball is something Kerr and staff will likely hone in on as preparation revs up for Sunday. 

Outside of that, Friday went according to plan against Greece. One final tune-up comes this weekend before the team heads to the Philippines, where it will begin World Cup opening round action on August 26.

John Fanta is a national college basketball broadcaster and writer for FOX Sports. He covers the sport in a variety of capacities, from calling games on FS1 to serving as lead host on the BIG EAST Digital Network to providing commentary on The Field of 68 Media Network. Follow him on Twitter @John_Fanta.

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