Team USA hopes one Maryland frontcourt star can replace another.
Sacramento Kings forward and Baltimore native Rudy Gay has been added to the men's national team roster. The sudden departure of Kevin Durant on Thursday left a scoring void and uncertainty with the Stretch-4 role. Gay has averaged at least 18 points per game for the past seven seasons with the Grizzlies, Raptors and Kings.
Team USA begins play in the World Cup of Basketball on Aug. 30 in Spain.
We can ponder why Gay wasn't already on the 28-man roster announced earlier this year (though neither was John Wall). It's clear why his services are needed now. Without Durant, who honed his game in Prince George's County and throughout the D.C. area, and the injured Paul George, Team USA lost scoring, athleticism and flexibility at the forward positions. There is no other Stretch-4 candidate outside of Chandler Parsons.
The 6-foot-8, 230-pound Gay has previous international experience. From ProBasketballTalk.com:
Rudy Gay played a nice role for Team USA on its way to the gold medal in the 2010 World Championships — he defends well on the perimeter and he can finish with authority in transition. His play earned Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s trust in 2010 and while his role was limited (less than 14 minutes a night) he averaged 7 points and 2.9 rebounds a game.
The concern with the former Archbishop Spalding product is that he's been a volume shooter at times during his career. However, Gay curbed some of those habits following the trade to Sacramento last season. In 55 games with the Kings he averaged 15.3 field goal attempts, the fewest per game since his rookie season.
Earlier today I analyzed the Team USA roster battles following Durant's exit. Parsons, small forward Gordon Hayward and wing guard DeMar DeRozan were seemingly in contention for two spots. Gay's size and ability to play power forward gives him the edge over Hayward and DeRozan, though not if the plan involves keeping another swingman option.
Team USA will meet up Aug. 14-16 for training camp and an exhibition game versus Brazil in Chicago. Camp will move to New York from Aug 18-22 before heading overseas. By then the now 16-player roster will be cut to 12.