Shortly after Kevin Durant withdrew from Team USA on Thursday, Rudy Gay made himself available to play for the country once again.

Valuable Addition

The 6-8 forward has been a member of USA Basketball’s program since 2005. As a member of Team USA in the 2010 World Championships, Gay averaged 7.3 points and 2.2 rebounds off the bench while playing all 12 games for the team. The 27 year old Sacramento Kings forward was also one of the last cuts from the 2012 USA Basketball squad that played in the London Olympics.

USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo said that Gay isn’t only “a valuable addition because of his outstanding skills”, but he is also “very familiar with USA basketball and its national program”. Colangelo notes his contributions in 2010 and that he has “a lot of equity in the USA basketball national team.”

Good Fit

Gay averaged 20.0 points 5.8 rebounds 2.1 assists and 1.4 steals per game last season while playing for Toronto and Sacramento. The former #8 overall pick in the 2006 draft is a good fit for this team, not only because of his familiarity but because he plays the small forward position which was left with  huge void after Paul George’s injury and Kevin Durant’s withdrawal.

Gay is a much more complete player than Gordon Hayward and DeMar De Rozan and has more experience than Chandler Parsons. Those three are the only legitimate small forwards left in the team after the depletions that have happened in the past week.

Loosing Players

Last Thursday, USA basketball suffered its biggest blow when the NBA’s 2014 MVP and scoring champion Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder withdrew from competing in the 2014 FIBA World Championships. In his official statement, Durant cited physical and mental exhaustion from the NBA and his “attention to other responsibilities.”

Durant’s withdrawal came less than a week after Indiana Pacers’ star Paul George broke his tibula-fibia during an exhibition game. The team also lost Kevin Love, Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge to various personal reasons, leaving Colangelo and Coach Mike Krzyzewski with a tough job ahead.

Crucial Three Weeks

Team USA is now officially back to its 16 remaining hopefuls and the next three weeks are going to be crucial for USA basketball as the organizers will cut 4 more players from this pool to arrive at the final 12. Coach Krzyzewski has to solve the riddle at the power forward position now that Durant is out. Team USA’s roster problems lie mostly in the four spot. While Rudy Gay can play as stretch four, he does not have Durant’s length which would’ve made Coach K’s job much easier.

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