Oklahoma City Thunder superstar Kevin Durant has withdrawn his name from consideration for Team USA for the upcoming FIBA Basketball World Cup. He has cited both physical and mental fatigue as the reason for his withdrawal. It is understandable position to take, considering his NBA season lasted until late May, as the Thunder lost to the Spurs in the Western Conference Finals.
Durant withdrawing from Team USA is a huge blow for the team that will compete in the FIBA World Cup starting in late August. He would have undoubtedly been the team’s leader and best player coming off an NBA season that saw him win his first MVP. During the 2010 competition, Durant took his game to another level and showed the world that he was ready to be the focal point of a team and become one of the unquestioned stars of the NBA. He took the experience from that 2010 competition and had a breakout season in the NBA in 2010-2011, taking the Thunder to their first Western Conference Finals appearance.
Now, with Durant’s withdrawal and Paul George’s injury Team USA is left very thin at the small forward position. Losing the former Texas star and George is not only a big loss in the talent department, but that also means two of the teams leaders are now absent as the FIBA World Cup quickly approaches. This development gives players like Demar Derozan, Chandler Parsons, and Gordon Hayward a much greater chance to make the eventual 12-man team. Although those three are all very capable backups, they do not come close to being able to replace the production Durant would have brought to the team.
In his statement Durant stated mental and physical fatigue as the reason for his withdrawal, but some will now wonder if watching Paul George get hurt had anything to do with the decision. The Thunder will most definitely not be upset at this decision, as their star player will no longer risk injury right before the upcoming season. Teams like the Spurs have been keeping their players from participating n events like this for years, and other franchises must be considering doing the same after watching the gruesome Paul George injury.
In all fairness to Durant, the George injury may not have played any part in this decision. After all, he has been a very busy man and has not really had a break from basketball since last summer. It is a testament to his love of the game and Team USA that he was even willing to participate in the first place. That is true of all the players playing for Team USA this summer, not just Durant. To endure an entire NBA season is a tall task, and then to dedicate your summer to more high level basketball, that is asking a lot. Fans take for granted how much these players put their bodies through to play a whole NBA season and then a high-level summer tournament.
Kevin Durant’s withdrawal from Team USA before the FIBA World Cup is a huge blow for the team. He cited mental and physical fatigue as the reason, an understandable, but unfortunate, development for fans looking forward to watching the World Cup of Basketball.
Commentary by Max Petkevicius