Spain, Argentina, France, Australia, Serbia, and the Czech Republic all ranked higher than the USA in the FIBA World Cup this summer. Despite all the cancelations, there was a feeling Team USA underperformed, especially when you take into account there were players who wanted to play but didn't make the team. Players who are currently playing exceptionally well.
D'Aaron Fox left Team USA when it became clear Pop had him behind Derrick White in the pecking order. We can discuss the merits, but it's not shocking that a Spurs guy found his way on the team. What is head-scratching is that Mason Plumlee, Brook Lopez, and Myles Turner were selected over Bam Adebayo.
Bam Adebayo is a top candidate from Most Improved Player this year. The progress Pascal Siakam made this summer makes him a favorite for the award - making the jump from the second option to the first option, and filling Kawhi's shoes is one of the hardest things to do in terms of basketball evolution.
Bam is a very close second. He became a focal point for the biggest surprise in the NBA, the Miami Heat. Adebayo is averaging 15.9 points, 10.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 1.3 steals, and 1.2 blocks while shooting 59.1 percent from the field. Watching them play makes it seem the Heat would survive a few games without Jimmy Butler easier than without Bam. He became, dare we say, Draymondesque.
Bam is an undersized playmaking center, while Turner, Lopez, and Plumlee are all old-school big-men. Pop would surely value versatility and have different options at each position for matchup purposes. So why didn't he go with Adebayo?
“He [Pop] said I wasn’t ready. Everybody has their opinions, so I guess it was his opinion I wasn’t ready.”
Bam Adebayo, The Miami Herald
That was it, according to Bam, no additional feedback from Pop. Adebayo said he took it at face value and just refocused on the NBA season ahead. While it's possible he made further progress during the summer, a development that wasn't there at Team USA, it could've been so dramatic. To be fair, Team USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo also has a role in personnel decisions, so it's not all on Pop.
It seems there's a rule we don't know about that Team USA has to have a Plumlee on the roster at all times.