After Paul George's injury in the Team USA scrimmage, you could argue that the U.S. squad lost its two best and most important players. Durant was the soul and George the willing and capable sidekick. KD provided transcendent scoring; PG added desperately needed grit, especially on the defensive end.
Both are gone now, and it's time to piece together what's left.
First is Rudy Gay, who was announced to be joining the roster on Friday. In the midst of his offseason workouts, he called the team and made himself available. Considering his past Team USA experience and his ability to play power forward, he's a lock to made the team -- probably as a starter, too.
Here's my predictions from last week before Durant withdrew:
Fortunately, I get another go of it. (Thank God, because I got way caught up in the Cousins bad attitude hype train. He's 48,193 times better than Mason Plumlee. He'll be fine.)
At point guard, you've got a shooter, a driver and a guy who's kind of in the middle of those two categories. Good balance.
Moving to shooting guard, James Harden is probably this team's "number one option," although that doesn't actually mean much. As for Klay Thompson, his role as a 3-and-D player might be more important than any of us realize right now.
Even though Hayward and Parsons are both similar players, I've now got both players making the final roster. In some ways, both are Kevin Durant-like -- rangy, long forwards who use their outside shooting to set up drives to the rim. I think the right move is to have both on the roster.
Parsons will help back up Rudy Gay at power forward, though, depending on the match-up. In my eyes, Faried is more of an emergency energy and rebounding forward than anything else. He'll play a few minutes each night, but since he doesn't add much defensively, it'll be hard for him to carve out a major role. Team USA prefers the stretch four, which is why Parsons -- a much better shooter than Gay -- is very close to a lock for the squad.
Lastly, Anthony Davis. He might be the key to this whole thing. He's already an offensive monster, but think about this one: he might be able to consistently hit 3-pointers from the shorter FIBA line. Can he help stem the tide of driving defenders sent his way on defense, though? Can he match Marc Gasol bump for bump if the two favorites reach the title game as expected? We can only wait and see.