Many questioned whether his withdrawal was due to fatigue, Paul George’s injury scare or being smacked with a $250 million offer from Under Armour.
Are Team USA’s chances at gold in jeopardy?
Not at all.
Team USA is in great hands, despite the loss of Durant. There’s no superstar of the LeBron James-Durant realm, but the next bunch isn’t bad.
There is still a ton of star power on the squad with the likes of Kyrie Irving, Stephen Curry and James Harden.
The squad thrives in forcing turnovers and running up and down the court. No other team in the tournament can match them in terms of sheer athleticism.
Heading into the tournament, the glaring weakness Team USA faced was its lack of big man depth. Blake Griffin, LaMarcus Aldridge and Kevin Love, arguably the top three power forwards in the NBA, withdrew before training camp began.
One eyebrow was raised at that being viewed as a weakness.
Soon-to-be superstar (and unibrow aficionado)Anthony Davis, of the New Orleans Pelicans, continues his ascension into becoming the new face of the NBA.
His athleticism, rebounding, defensive prowess, improving mid-range jumper and high motor have been the biggest standouts in exhibition play.
Standing next to him in the starting lineup is Denver Nuggets big man Kenneth Faried, a rebounding machine who will thrive in the uptempo offense.
Those two, along with DeMarcus Cousins, should fare well against the likes of Spain’s Serge Ibaka and the Gasol brothers and other bigs.
Then the opposition still has to deal with the terror caused by the guards.
Irving and Curry can light it up from the outside, Harden can do it all (ignoring his defense), then you’ve still got DeMar DeRozan and Klay Thompson lurking around as well.
Oh, and that Derrick Rose guy (health pending) can maybe do a thing or two.
So far, superstar power or not, Team USA is still wreaking havoc. After a slow start against Brazil, where they (only) won by 17 points, they throttled the Dominican Republic by 43 points, downed Puerto Rico by 26, and capped off exhibition play with a 30-point drubbing of Slovenia.
Team USA begins its run toward the gold today, Aug. 30, against Finland. The gold-medal game will be played on Sunday, Sept. 13.
If all goes as planned, Team USA will be playing that Sunday, and by the end of it, have Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the U.S.A.” “The Star-Spangled Banner” blaring with gold medals, once again, around the necks of the red, white and blue.