Andrew Nembhard struggles in first Showcase game against Haliburton and Team USA

In his first taste of Olympic action, Andrew Nembhard showed his inexperience but had a few flashes.
Canada v United States
Canada v United States / Ethan Miller/GettyImages

Indiana Pacers basketball is well-represented in the Olympics this year, as not only is Pacers superstar Tyrese Haliburton in a prominent position as the best playmaker and lead bench point guard of Team USA. His backcourt mate, Andrew Nembhard, is also prominently showcased on Team Canada.

Following his breakout playoff run that culminated in an otherworldly Conference Finals series against the eventual champion Boston Celtics, the Toronto native was rewarded for his efforts with a spot on Canada's initial 20-man pool of Olympic candidates. After making the cut for the final 12-man roster, Nembhard has his first taste of Olympic basketball on Wednesday in a Showcase match against Team USA and Haliburton himself.

After all the buildup and hype for the matchup, which started with the two young guards embracing pregame before going to war, how did Andrew Nembhard do in his first taste of Olympic basketball?

Let's just say, it's a work in progress.

Right out of the gate, Nembhard's role on Team Canada was already going to be far different from Haliburton's on Team USA. While Haliburton was called upon for his playmaking and versatility, Nembhard was brought to Team Canada for the scoring ability he showcased in the playoffs as well as his defense, which was very promising during the season and one of the high spots of Indiana's otherwise lackluster defensive system. As a result, Nembhard was called upon to take more shots for his team than Haliburton and make up for some of their scoring deficiencies.

As far as the stats go, Nembhard was quite unremarkable. In 16 minutes of play, he went scoreless on 0/5 from the field and 0/3 from deep, forcing up a few contested stepback threes, some even on Haliburton. Nembhard's only stats were one rebound, one assist, and one steal to go with his plus/minus of -12 as he was one of the low points of Team Canada's 72-86 loss to Team USA.

However, it is worth noting that Canada's spacing was a far cry from Team USA's. Outside of Kelly Olynyk, who got picked on a lot by Anthony Davis and Bam Adebayo, Team Canada did not have any big shooters on their roster, and no real consistent shooters in general outside of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and occasionally RJ Barrett or Jamal Murray.

As a result, Nembhard got his fair share of defensive attention, not being able to benefit from SGA or Murray's gravity due to playing a bench role. This led to basically all of Nembhard's shots being contested and him being hounded on defense, far more than what he is used to in Indiana next to Haliburton.

Nembhard did show some of that trademark defense and hustle, as he stripped Jayson Tatum out of bounds on one play and even dove for the loose ball, which was unsuccessful. The fact that he would dive for a loose ball in a meaningless exhibition game with his team down double digits just speaks to his work ethic and hustle, especially on the defensive end.


With this being said, I don't think this game is an indication of how Nembhard will play for the entire Olympics or even in the next game. As Team Canada tries new offensive schemes and players shake off some of their offseason rust, Nembhard included, the shooting will probably return and he will be back to being a problem on offense. After all, if SGA himself isn't counting him out, why should you?