Kevin Durant pulled out of Team USA this past Thursday leaving them without their all world scorer and in a somewhat more precarious position to win the gold in the World Championships. However, I don't really care if Team USA wins the gold at the World Championships, what I care about is how this impacts Derrick Rose.
He said he wasn't totally invested in the experience and needed time to prepare for the NBA season mentally and physically:
"This was an extremely difficult decision as I take great pride in representing our country," Durant said in a statement. "I know that I owe it to my USA Basketball teammates to be totally invested in the experience. After going through training camp with USAB, I realized I could not fulfill my responsibilities to the team from both a time and energy standpoint.
"I need to take a step back and take some time away, both mentally and physically in order to prepare for the upcoming NBA season. I will be rooting for USAB and look forward to future opportunities with them."
I'm sure it was, but I think the Paul George's injury caused that lack of investment awfully quick. That's not to call out Durant's choice of words. Seeing that type of thing and thinking "what if it were me" can get your head out of the game really quick.
I have no problem with any player reassessing their own basketball mortality after that gruesome injury. They have a lot to lose if they're hurt and need to weigh that risk, and this tournament doesn't really mean anything to the US fans whom only care about the Olympics.
It's a big loss for Team USA and perhaps an important loss for Derrick Rose. Not because he'll have to carry a heavier load or risk more injury, but he'll have that much less time to become buddies with Kevin Durant. He'll have that much less time to scrimmage against/with another elite player.
That's probably a pretty minimal impact, but that's probably the biggest impact that Rose will feel. Will Team USA still win? Probably. It's certainly not a lock, but I'd still take team USA over the field. They're still going there with an all-star team, and unlike the old days, it's an all team full of guys who fit the international style of play better.
Yeah, they lack a lot of size, but so does almost everyone else in Europe. They still have a big athletic advantage and a ton of shooting. Derrick's load won't increase by any notable amount with Durant's absence. I think if anything, more load for him would be a good thing.
However, all the real work he's getting in to prepare for the regular season is in the scrimmages. That's where he's going up against elite athletes. That's where he's playing guys with NBA tendencies. That's where he'll test himself against the very players he'll need to beat next season.
Cue Tom Thibodeau, because even without Durant, Team USA has more than enough to win. It's just a shame Derrick won't get to buddy up with Durant or have Durant push him in scrimmage any more.
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