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Kevin Love leaving Team USA not helpful, certainly not devastating either

Jul 26, 2014, 2:30 PM EDT

US forward Kevin Durant and US forward K Getty Images

Kevin Love is a unique talent and one whose game fits well in international basketball — he’s a big man who shot 37.6 percent from three last NBA season to stretch the floor, and for his career he grabs better than 20 percent of the available rebounds when on the court. Plus for Team USA he’s a great outlet passer on a team that wants to run opponents into the ground. He’s a matchup nightmare for other teams.

Team USA will miss him in Spain now that he has dropped out of the World Cup competition for this summer. Also out are power forwards Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge. We (and I’ll use “we” here as I’m an American) could have used all of them.

But this is far from devastating for Team USA.

The first thing you need to remember is that assembling a team for international basketball is different from putting together an NBA team. Different style of ball. Think back to the 2008 and 2012 Olympic gold medal teams from the USA, they had just two or three traditional NBA “bigs” on the roster and only one was ever on the court at a time. We saw a lot of LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony at the four (neither of those men are available for the team this summer).

Bigs who can shoot from deep and provide quickness matter more — and Team USA has that in droves.

As for the power forward position… I’d like you to meet Kevin Durant.

From a guy who knows the international game, Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress.com.

This also opens the door for DeMarcus Cousins and Kenneth Faried, who will be in camp, as well as Anthony Davis (pretty much a lock to make the team) and Andre Drummond.

USA Basketball President Jerry Colangelo spoke with Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports about the opportunities this opens up for others such as Chandler Parsons who can play either the three or four.

While Davis is expected to make the team, Colangelo also spoke highly about the chances for Cousins, Faried and Drummond. Colangelo also sees Parsons and Paul George as candidates to play power forward and space the floor with their shooting against the international competition.

There is one legitimate concern about the NBA’s front line — facing Spain. That would be the second best team in the world (silver medals the last two Olympics) with a front line of Marc and Pau Gasol. You need enough size on the roster to be ready for that matchup. Remember in the 2012 London Olympics gold medal game Spain was right with Team USA until Marc Gasol got in foul trouble. On their home court with their home crowds (the FIBA World Cup takes place in Spain), the USA can’t count on those kinds of breaks.

But the fact is the USA is so deep with talent and athleticism that the loss of talented players — even a Kevin Love — is far from devastating. Team USA is still the favorites and they have plenty of options along the front line. Colangelo put it this way to Marc Stein of ESPN.

“You can’t just sit around and cry in your beer about who you don’t have. You look at what you do have and you say, ‘We’re going to get the job done.’ We feel very confident about our opportunity. We’re ready for it.”

  1. charlessb - Jul 26, 2014 at 2:51 PM

    the best international stretch 4 is carmelo anthony, team usa should try to ask either lebron or carmelo to reconsider for this summer. mainly because if they fail to qualify then the US would have to go back to the tournament next summer

    • money2long - Jul 26, 2014 at 3:32 PM

      Melo will have an even better season than last year. He will be pretty fun to watch.
      However, anti seems to think melo had his prime a few years ago. Smh.

      Melo will turn up this coming season. I can’t wait.

      • charlessb - Jul 26, 2014 at 4:16 PM

        yea i agree

      • antistratfordian - Jul 26, 2014 at 6:02 PM

        “Prime” is a range. It doesn’t refer to one season. A player enters their prime, stays in it for maybe 5 years, then they exit it. Melo’s prime started a few years ago and he’s still in it.

        Most people will say that a player is in his prime between ages 28-32 – it’s different for each player, certainly, but that’s the general area – and Melo seems to be following that dictum to a T.

      • money2long - Jul 26, 2014 at 6:23 PM

        Melo will be the best he’s ever been this season. He has not seen his prime yet. Shut your mouth.

    • denverhoopdreams - Jul 26, 2014 at 5:03 PM

      Wut?

  2. zoomy123 - Jul 26, 2014 at 2:51 PM

    This sucks. I don’t just want to win, I want to WIN!

    • apkyletexas - Jul 26, 2014 at 3:35 PM

      Not really. I’d pretty much take Anthony Davis over Kevin Love any day of the week, international ball, NBA ball, street ball – you name it.

      • zoomy123 - Jul 26, 2014 at 3:44 PM

        Your comment has absolutely nothing to do with what I wrote. What does your opinion about Anthony Davis > Kevin Love have to do with Love leaving Team USA?

      • apkyletexas - Jul 26, 2014 at 3:52 PM

        I was pointing out the quote in the article from Jonathon Givony – “Drummond and Anthony Davis are the perfect centers to play the style of basketball the US likes. Block shots, rebound, finish on pick & roll”. I also think the team will be better off with Davis as the big man on the floor rather than Love. That’s all. If you want to WIN, you’ll have a better shot with Davis in my opinion.

  3. jeffkx - Jul 26, 2014 at 3:34 PM

    Cavs don’t want their new player to get hurt.

    • scorp16 - Jul 26, 2014 at 5:12 PM

      Yeah the Cavs would rather Love do his knuckle push ups in November rather than now. Makes sense

  4. tampajoey - Jul 26, 2014 at 3:40 PM

    Love said today via his agent that he only wants to play for the Cavs and if he’s traded to another team he will not sign a new long term deal. There goes the trade leverage for the Wolves. If Kevin Love does want to play for the Cavs then I’m sure he’d rather have Wiggins on the team too. Why would he want to make the team he’s going to weaker by getting rid of Wiggins. It’s in Kevin Love’s best interest to sway the leverage in Cleveland’s favor.

    • scorp16 - Jul 26, 2014 at 5:14 PM

      So if he goes to Houston and they win a title then he’s on the first flight to Cle in late June. Yeah. Okay

  5. pike573 - Jul 26, 2014 at 3:55 PM

    Lets interrupt our Kevin Love coverage with a story about Kevin Love

    • scorp16 - Jul 26, 2014 at 5:33 PM

      It’s SI’s fault. They had another essay ready entitled “I’m coming home, too…Why Kevin Love forced the trade to Cleveland”

      But LeBron’s PR machine stepped in and said “Hey but he’s not from Cleveland”.. They then tried to spin it to say he used to vacation with his family in Cleveland every year as a small child..but it wasn’t believable.

  6. saint1997 - Jul 26, 2014 at 6:53 PM

    I think Melo should be doing this, playing international ball in the offseason has always been so good for his game. Or maybe seeing as I’m Australian I don’t want him to play…Exum and Bogut all the way

  7. 22yearsagotoday - Jul 26, 2014 at 8:03 PM

    Melo shot the lights out at the last Olympics in London. He’s a real star, contrary to what you read on these pages. He’s better than Love might ever be.

  8. campcouch - Jul 26, 2014 at 9:16 PM

    Really. The Gasols of 2012 are a bit different than the Gasols of now. That 2012 team had a defender in Chandler, a collegiate Davis and a stretch 4 Love as big men. The 2014 versions of Drummond, Davis, Cousins and Faried would give those two problems inside.

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