Its been a summer to forget for USA Basketball in the wake of Paul George's devastating injury and now the withdrawal of Kevin Durant who is citing mental and physical fatigue. Durant's withdrawal comes on the heels of guys like Kevin Love and Blake Griffin also pulling out for various reasons.
Despite the misfortune, Team USA must press on and now have 15 players competing for 12 spots for competition at the FIBA World Cup. Atlanta's Kyle Korver is still among those 15 players and Durant's injury probably won't effect his status as a three-point specialist off the bench a lot. However, for guys like Chandler Parsons, Gordon Hayward and DeMar DeRozan it opens the door for a potential roster spot.
Here is a look at the players that are still in camp:
Shooting Guards/Small Forwards
At this point it looks like three of the four point guards will make the team. Curry is a lock and will spend a great deal of time at shooting guard. Rose also appears to be a lock which leaves Irving and Lillard battling for the final spot.
The wings have taken the biggest hit with the departure of Durant and the injury to George. Team USA was expected to play small with Durant and George logging minutes at the power forward position. They may have to alter that strategy a bit now just due to the lack of size. I think Chandler Parsons benefits the most from Durant's exit in that he is the one player remaining that has the size to also play the four in international competition. Harden and Thompson appear to be locks now while Korver should stick as a three-point specialist off the bench.
Davis and Faried appear to be locks among the bigs. There has been much debate about Mason Plumlee vs DeMarcus Cousins but given the circumstance there might be enough room on the roster for both if they want to go that route. Cousins is the best offensive center available behind Davis and they may need that now to offset the loss of Durant.
So here are my picks so far:
Figure that one of Cousins or Plumlee also goes on that list. That leaves two spots that could be distributed as wings or another big. Gordon Hayward might have a leg up in the race now but I wouldn't sleep on DeRozan just yet after his good showing at the Showcase in Las Vegas. Team USA will reconvene next Thursday in Chicago and play an exhibition game on Saturday.