Originally posted on A Stern Warning  |  Last updated 7/30/13
It has been less than a year since the United States men’s national basketball team was adorned with gold medals for their victory against Spain in the 2012 London Olympics finals.  In what should have been a quiet summer for Team USA, they have been making headlines for LeBron James seemingly ending his career with the team, with the recent announcement that he will not participate in 2014’s FIBA Basketball World Cup. He is likely also out of the 2016 Olympics Games in Rio de Janiero. James averaged 13.3 points per game in the London games and was named MVP in the London Games. He is the face of not only the NBA, but international basketball as well. LeBron’s shoes are hard to fill, but many other players have stepped up into the spotlight.  The new era of USA Basketball will be headed by Kevin Durant.   Durant shined in the London games, averaging 19.5 points and 5.8 rebounds per game.  He also shot 52% from downtown, hitting 34 three-pointers in eight games.  Many fans questioned whether Durant would play in the world championship, so his commitment to the team gives them a go-to scorer that will put up big numbers to help the team excel.   "It's USA. That's it," Durant told USA TODAY Sports. "To play amongst the world and travel throughout this beautiful world and play basketball, you can't beat that. It's a great opportunity." Another guy coming off a strong performance in the 2012 Olympics and will board a plane to Spain next summer is Kevin Love.  Love averaged 11.6 points, and led the team in rebounds at 7.6 per game in London.  Love’s presence on the boards was a key factor to Team USA’s success, especially against the height of Spain led by the Gasol brothers.  Although he sat out parts of the 2012-2013 NBA season, if he can stay healthy for the 2014 World Cup, there is no doubt he will be a superstar for the squad. Making a big splash in the team’s minicamp are power forward Anthony Davis and guard Kyrie Irving.  During Team USA’s internal scrimmage on July 26, Irving and Davis were excellent on offense, scoring 23 and 22 respectively.  Irving dished out seven assists, leading all players, and Davis picked up seven boards.  Although Davis and the Hornets had a disappointing rookie season, he has experience playing at the international level and has a gold medal with the 2012 team.  Irving has emerged as one of the most exciting point guards in the league.  He averaged 22.5 points last season and was named an All Star as only a sophomore to the association. With the acquisition of center Andrew Bynum and #1 pick Anthony Bennett in the 2013 NBA Draft, Irving and the Cleveland Cavaliers have lofty expectations for the 2013-2014 NBA season. A guy who has been projected to join Irving at the guard position is Stephen Curry.  Curry became a fan favorite in the 2013 NBA Playoffs where he averaged 23.4 points per game.  He is a sharpshooter from the three point line, and his 18 three pointers in his first four playoffs game is an NBA record.  He can change the pace of the game and has potential to be a top five point guard in the upcoming years. Paul George another player who emerged in the spotlight of the playoffs is expected to play for the United States.  George averaged 17.4 points in the regular season for the Indiana Pacers and 19.2 points in the 2013 playoffs.  He has proven to perform in the clutch, hitting a three-point field goal at the end of the fourth quarter in game one against the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference semi-finals. His size, 6’8 feet and 220 pounds, is comparable to LeBron’s, and there is no doubt he would be a decent replacement in the small forward position for the United States. Big question marks remain with Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul and James Harden.  As of right now they do not have plans to participate in the World Cup, but if they do become interested next summer there is no doubt room on the roster will be made for the gold medal winners.  Paul has come out in a statement saying he is leaning towards playing in the 2016 Rio Games, but the possibility of him playing in Spain is still in the air. With the combination of veterans, young talent and an incredible coaching staff led by future Hall Of Famer Coach Mike Krzyzewski, the United States should be in contention for top spot in Spain next summer.  Although they are losing big names in LeBron, Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade and potentially Paul, the NBA still has a history of producing the world’s best basketball players, earning the gold medal 14 out of their 17 appearances in the Olympic Games.  Behind Durant, Love, and Irving, the team should continue to shine on the international level and show the world that they can still win without LeBron in the World Cup and eventually, the Olympics. This guest post was contributed by Heather McDevitt -- she is a Boston Celtics fan with a BA Public Relations from Penn State. 
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

WATCH: Officials blow call on illegal bat, cost Lions game

WATCH: Kam Chancellor saves game for Seahawks

Zdeno Chara placed on IR, may not miss any games for Bruins

Auburn WR Duke Williams dismissed from the program

Rapper Luther Campbell's Miami coaching wish list has autocorrected error

Jordan Zimmermann issues farewell to Nationals fans


Zack Kassian suffered injuries in an early morning car accident

NFL looking into why Joe Haden was deactivated

Trent Dilfer rips Jimmy Graham as a blocker

Urban Meyers confirms WR Corey Smith has broken leg

Ryan Tannehill frustrated at Dolphins' practice squad

Urban Meyer says he could use J.T. Barrett as red zone QB

WATCH: Refs miss key illegal batting call at end of game

Jim McElwain, Florida and the art of culture

Who could be baseball’s next breakout postseason superstar?

WATCH: Seahawks' Russell Wilson refuses to get tackled

Why the Miami Dolphins had to fire Joe Philbin

Understanding Reggie Jackson's contract with Detroit

College football teams missing quality quarterback play

Alley Broussard waiting for Leonard Fournette to break his LSU record

Texas Rangers ups their concessions game for the postseason

What to make of Jameis Winston’s nightmare start

A brief history of Ichiro wanting to pitch

This weekend in NFL stupid: The Miami Dolphins

NFL players putting together unprecedented career years

NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Texas Rangers ups their concessions game for the postseason

College playoff: Five teams that hurt themselves

College playoff: Five teams that helped themselves

Could this be the Carolina Panthers season?

Michael Irvin: Cowboys have no chance against Patriots Sunday

Melo on requesting a trade: 'Hell no'

Remembering the Angels-Mariners AL West tiebreaker of 1995

Donald Trump: Redskins should keep team name

Redskins got a pregame pep talk from...Matthew McConaughey?

Matt Bonner is about to join an elite group of Spurs

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker