Team USA was historically short on star power for the 2019 FIBA World Cup.
Relatedly, the Americans placed a historically low seventh – their worst-ever finish in a major event.
So many big-name players didn’t participate. USA Basketball looked helpless as star after star withdrew. What can you do when someone would rather stay home?
But the U.S. – coached by the Spurs’ Gregg Popovich – also cut Heat center Bam Adebayo, who now looks like a borderline All-Star.
I appreciate Popovich’s introspection. Few coaches would publicly acknowledge the possibility of making a mistake like this.
Adebayo is among the NBA’s most improved players. It’s tough to pinpoint exactly when that growth occurred. Adebayo wasn’t necessarily the same player in August, when Team USA set its roster, as he was by October. Perhaps, getting cut motivated him and made him better.
For what it’s worth, the Heat seemed to understand Adebayo’s potential before the NBA regular season began. But they also had more opportunities to evaluate him.
That said, USA Basketball took Mason Plumlee to China. Adebayo really didn’t deserve to clear that bar for making the roster?