The 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain is sure to feature an excellent roster from Team USA, and now we're one step closer to figuring out exactly which players will be on it.
They'll be drawn from the 28-player pool that was announced by USA Basketball, and it's a list of players with quite a few surprises and a handful of notable omissions. Snubs, if you will.
LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Paul George, Chris Paul and all the names you'd expect to see are there. Obviously, as Team USA wants to make sure it has access to all of its star players when the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro roll around.
After all, the Olympic roster will be culled from this pool of players as well, so the people selecting it need to make sure they've included a healthy mix of established veterans and promising youngsters.
They've certainly done that, but there are a number of questionable inclusions and omissions as well.
Some of them make you cock your head in disbelief, and others might just make your jaw hit the floor.
Team: Atlanta Hawks
2013-14 Per-Game Stats: 12.2 points, 4.2 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.1 steals, 0.4 blocks, 13.9 PER
I'll be the first to tell you that Kyle Korver is a great and criminally underrated basketball player. It's my duty as a fan of the Atlanta Hawks, as I get to witness firsthand the contributions that he brings to the table—solid defense and good interior passes, for example—other than three-point shooting.
But there is no world in which Korver belongs on Team USA.
While he's more than just a sharpshooter with the Hawks, that would be his sole purpose while playing for his country. There's no need for anything else, as his teammates are so much more talented.
Oh, and they can almost all shoot three-pointers already. When everyone else on the court can knock down attempts from beyond a shortened arc, what's the point in having a player who specializes in making triples?
His biggest skill is essentially marginalized.
There were a few questionable inclusions and head-scratching omissions on the roster, but this is the most puzzling of the bunch.
Team: Washington Wizards
2013-14 Per-Game Stats: 20.2 points, 4.3 rebounds, 8.5 assists, 1.9 steals, 0.4 blocks, 20.1 PER
The headliner of the snubs, John Wall definitely doesn't deserve to be left off the Team USA roster.
Quite frankly, he should've ended up making the final cut for the Olympic roster after traveling with the squad to Spain this summer. That's how big a snub this is.
Wall has used the 2013-14 season to emerge as one of the most dominant point guards in basketball, and he's still only 23 years old. By the time 2016 rolls around, there's no telling where he'll sit in any sane rankings of point guards.
Is it really outside the realm of realistic possibilities to assume that Wall is challenging for the No. 1 spot at his position in a couple years? He's already on the verge of cementing a spot in the top five, and another few years of development are only going to solidify his case.
The only real justification for Wall's omission from the roster is his lack of shooting ability. Team USA thrives from beyond the arc, and using a point guard with jump-shooting limitations only makes the job tougher for Mike Krzyzewski and the rest of the coaching staff.
Team: New York Knicks
2013-14 Per-Game Stats: 8.1 points, 8.3 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 0.7 blocks, 1.4 blocks, 17.1 PER
Tyson Chandler may have travelled with Team USA to London for the 2012 Olympics, but that doesn't mean he should be receiving what essentially amounts to a legacy bid.
As NBC Sports' Dan Feldman, Brett Pollakoff and Kurt Helin wrote while ranking him the second-worst player of the 28 on the roster, "Chandler was an important piece of the 2012 U.S. Olympic team, giving the Americans a center when they had no other decent option. He was likely aging out of contention anyway, but the emergence of other young centers really pushes out Chandler."
It's hard to sum it up any better.
That NBC team of writers had David Lee as the worst of the bunch, but his shooting and offensive contributions at least fit into the scheme.
Not only is Chandler 31 years old and already declining/injury-prone, but there are far more worthwhile American centers in the league than the ones the USA boasted two years back.
DeMarcus Cousins (the best center in the Association and only getting better), Andre Drummond and Dwight Howard are already on the roster. Anthony Davis should be playing center on the international squad, and LaMarcus Aldridge and Kevin Love can both hold down the fort at the 5 against smaller lineups.
So why exactly is Chandler here at the expense of younger players with far more promise?
Team: Toronto Raptors
2013-14 Per-Game Stats: 21.8 points, 4.6 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.2 steals, 0.5 blocks, 17.7 PER
A year ago, it would have been laughable to include DeMar DeRozan on this roster. Had he been there, he certainly would've been included in an article such as this one, but as a surprise rather than a snub.
However, a lot can change over the course of a few months, and DeRozan has played unbelievable basketball during the 2013-14 season, especially since Rudy Gay was shipped off to the Sacramento Kings. In January, the 2-guard is averaging 24.2 points, 5.5 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 1.6 steals and 0.5 blocks per game, and he's doing so while shooting 44.5 percent from the field.
In the past, DeRozan has struggled to shoot the ball effectively. His three-point shooting and deep jumpers have been awful, and he routinely failed to involve his teammates once he touched the rock.
But that's different now, and it's the primary reason that the Toronto Raptors scoring stud has emerged as a legitimate All-Star candidate in the Eastern Conference. His jumper still needs some work, but he's shooting the ball more confidently, taking the right shots and racking up assists on a nightly basis.
DeRozan might not be the favorite for Most Improved Player, but he should be in the conversation. And that should've gotten him onto the roster.
Team: Utah Jazz
2013-14 Per-Game Stats: 17.3 points, 5.4 rebounds, 4.9 assists, 1.4 steals, 0.7 blocks, 17.4 PER
Is Gordon Hayward a solid player? Absolutely.
Is he only 23 years old and still full of potential? Definitely.
Is he having a pretty decent season for the Utah Jazz? Without question.
But that doesn't mean he should be a part of this Team USA roster. Hayward might be a versatile offensive player who can start making contributions like Andre Iguodala has for years on that end, but he doesn't play enough defense or shoot efficiently enough to actually belong.
Not when there are better options.
For the 2013-14 campaign, Hayward is shooting only 42.1 percent from the field and 32 percent beyond the arc. Those aren't exactly stellar numbers, though they'd be better if he were surrounded by players with more talent than the ones the Jazz currently boast.
However, the defense is the bigger problem.
According to NBA.com's statistical databases, Utah is allowing 108.6 points per 100 possessions when the former Butler standout is on the court. When he sits, that number drops to 105.5.
Additionally, he's only upping the offensive output by 0.4 points per 100 possessions.
If Hayward isn't making the Jazz better, he's not going to do the same for Team USA.
Team: Houston Rockets
2013-14 Per-Game Stats: 17.2 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.2 steals, 0.5 blocks, 16.8 PER
Chandler Parsons might be the No. 3 option on the Houston Rockets, but he's also the most important player on the roster.
His two-way excellence makes all the difference.
Parsons has become a terrific defender, one who consistently takes on the other team's toughest wing player and does everything in his power to shut him down. His length, quickness and instincts all make a huge impact for the Rockets.
Offensively, his versatility does wonders for Houston.
Parsons can handle the ball, taking pressure off some of the guards on the roster, and the combination of his driving ability, athleticism, outside shooting and knack for distributing is simply invaluable.
Essentially, he's an extremely upgraded version of Gordon Hayward. Yet it's the Utah Jazz's young wing player who made the roster, not Parsons.
That doesn't exactly make sense, but perhaps it will inspire Parsons on to even bigger and better things.
"Thanks for the motivation," he wrote on his official Twitter feed. What else would he be referring to?