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Kevin Durant

While the non-baseball honks wait patiently for football to start, there’s something else sporting-wise to look forward to: The FIBA World Championship, which goes from August 28th through September 12th in Turkey. Granted, the FIBA Worlds won’t be as popular or fanatically followed like the soccer World Cup — I kind of miss vuvuzelas — meaningful basketball is always a good thing.

It’s true players like LeBron, Kobe, D-Wade and Chris Paul won’t be participating, and because of that, casual fans will probably overlook FIBA’s tournament, but there’s one very, very good reason to tune in when Team USA tries to win the World Championship for the first time since 2002:

The opportunity to watch Kevin Durant burn the FIBA Worlds to the ground.

Sure, Durant will probably defer some to his talented teammates — particularly, the wing players who will/should be joining him — but he also represents perhaps the most “unguardable” player in the tournament.

The 6-9 — well, it’s hard to pigeon-hole Durant into one particular position, but keeping with the theme of this post, we’ll call him a wing player — winger with the feathery jump shot is in a position to bomb Team USA’s “B-Team” all the way to the gold medal. While it’s true I’m not familiar with the rosters of Team USA’s potential opponents, considering the makeup of foreign players in the NBA, while talented, there isn’t one in the bunch who jumps out as a Durant stopper.

A player like Dirk Nowitzki fits the bill — a long, athletic wing player — but he’s not playing, and besides, he doesn’t play the kind of defense it would take to contain a player like Durant. Someone like Scottie Pippen comes to mind, but yeah, that’s not happening.

Furthermore, I don’t know of any potential opponent who fits such a description.

Considering Durant’s ability to score (30 points a game last season), the shorter 3-point line, and a roster (yet to be finalized) that looks like it can facilitate a wide-open game, allowing Durant to operate in the open court — Something like this:

…signs point to Durant having a spectacular tournament, one that introduces him the rest of the world.

And heaven help the team that decides to zone a Kevin Durant-led lineup, especially if Coach Krzyzewski and Jerry Coangelo include other good shooting guards — players like Stephen Curry, Danny Granger and Chauncey Billups to name a few who look worthy — because what once was a weakness for Team USA (outside shooting) looks like a considerable strength.

Yes, the talk of Team USA’s lack of dominant big man raises eyebrows, but then again, someone like Tyson Chandler could thrive in a perimeter-based offense; one that asks him to set screens and clean up the trash around the rim. Surrounding Chandler with players shooters and perimeter studs is not a bad way to go, especially if Team USA shoots opponents out of zones. Furthermore, as Dime Magazine points out, Team USA won’t be going up against a who’s who of quality foreign big men:

Fortunately for the U.S., several other countries in the WC field will be without their top big men as well. Andrew Bogut is out for Australia, Dirk Nowitzki and Chris Kaman won’t play for Germany, Mehmet Okur is sitting out for Turkey, Darko won’t suit up for Serbia, Yao Ming is sidelined for China, Joakim Noah may not play for France and Luis Scola may not play for Argentina, and Pau Gasol is out for Spain.

All things considered, I’m expecting some eye-popping performances from Kevin Durant. No one in the FIBA Worlds will be able to guard him.