Sacramento Kings’ Rudy Gay has strong case to make USA Basketball’s World Cup roster

Sacramento Kings forward Rudy Gay attempts to drive against the Portland Trail Blazers. (Photo: Tobin Halsey)

Rudy Gay may be a late addition to the USA Basketball roster, but that shouldn’t mean he’s a long-shot to make the World Cup team. In fact, the opposite might be true.

As he gets set to compete for a spot in Madrid, Gay has a few things working in his favor. What exactly are those advantages? We take a look.

Gay is arguably the most talented wing on the roster

Though unfortunate circumstances, the losses of Kevin Durant and Paul George help Gay’s chances to make the team. Outside of LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, Durant and George are two of the game’s best small forwards. After James, Durant, Anthony and George, the Sacramento Kings veteran doesn’t fall too far behind in the small forward debate.

There are also just three true, small forwards who remain in USA Basketball’s pool for the World Cup. Chandler Parsons of the Dallas Mavericks and Gordon Hayward of the Utah Jazz are the other two wings left to choose from for Mike Krzyzewski and Jerry Colangelo. Parsons and Hayward are both up-and-coming young small forwards, but one could argue that neither are as naturally talented as the Sacramento Kings veteran.

Gay has experience on his side

As much as it hurts USA Basketball to lose Durant’s talent, it hurts just as much to lose the reigning MVP’s experience. Derrick Rose, Stephen Curry and James Harden are the only players on USA’s roster who have experience playing in either Olympic or World Cup-level competition.

With his addition, Gay brings some much-needed experience into the USA pool. The Sacramento Kings small forward has been part of the national program since 2005 and has won in this tournament before. Gay was part of the 2010 World Cup team that finished 9-0 and won gold in Turkey.

Meanwhile, Hayward and Parsons are both relatively green to USA Basketball. Hayward has been playing with and against Team USA since 2012 while Parsons was invited to participate in the program for the first time last summer.

Gay brings versatility

Before George’s injury, coach Krzyzewski seemed to hint at a starting lineup featuring the Indiana Pacers small forward, Durant and New Orleans Pelicans’ big man Anthony Davis. George would be at his natural position at the wing while Durant was expected to play major minutes at the four. With George and Durant out of the pool, Krzyzewski lost some versatility – that is until the addition of Gay.

In international play, the Sacramento Kings wing is capable of playing both forward positions. Gay boasts a wingspan that exceeds 7-feet, which is something neither Hayward nor Parsons can claim. With the lack of experience that Hayward, Parsons as well as centers like DeMarcus Cousins and Andre Drummond possess, having another wing like the Sacramento Kings veteran, who can slide back and forth between both forward spots,could be a deal-maker for Krzyzewski and Colangelo.

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About: Jonathan Santiago

Jonathan Santiago serves Cowbell Kingdom as senior editor specializing in writing, podcasting and video production. He also handles the majority of CK’s day-to-day beat coverage of the Kings.