There: I said it. (Yes, I’m aware that I am only stating the obvious.) Team USA suffered a significant loss when Kevin Durant removed himself from the roster due to physical and mental fatigue. There were not any available (or should I say willing?) players who were going to make up for KD’s absence . . . but there had to be someone who would come closer to filling the void than Rudy Gay, right?
Perhaps you can tell I’m not fond of the decision to keep Gay on the roster, especially when a match-up nightmare such as Damian Lillard was let go. (Lillard was named the first alternate in case someone on the roster gets injured. So he’s got that going for him!) I would not go so far as to say that Rudy Gay absolutely should not have made the squad – that distinction goes to Mason Plumlee – but I’m not in love with his making the final cut, either.
Nevertheless, Gay will be suiting up in Spain, and to his credit, he did the right thing by swallowing his pride and answering the call when Team USA came knocking. And let’s face it: the man can play. He enjoyed a nice resurgence in Sacramento last season, producing 20.1 PPG, 5.5 RPG, and 3.1 APG for the Kings after being deported by the Toronto Raptors. I don’t see him producing even ten points a game for Team USA in Spain, but Gay almost certainly knows that, and will be happy trying to make the most of the looks he does get.
Clearly, Rudy Gay was not brought in to replace Kevin Durant. He’s a decent enough player, and I certainly hope that he builds off of his success in Sacramento and enjoys a strong 2014-2015 season. I’m not thrilled with how he made the final cut despite showing up late in the game, but who the hell am I? Gay has experience (he won gold in the 2010 FIBA World Championship), and he could wind up being the X-factor in one or two games during the World Cup.