When players like LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul, and Dwight Howard elected to skip the 2010 FIBA World Championship, the burden fell on the younger players' shoulders to keep Team USA atop the basketball world.
With that responsibility comes the threat of injury. Or wear and tear. Or just overall mental and physical fatigue. That's why so many team executives fear sending their superstars into competitive play when not wearing their NBA uniforms.
Derrick Rose is a prime example of this.
The Chicago Bulls came off arguably the second-best offseason of any NBA team in the summer that mattered the most. Most experts predict the Bulls to finish in the top four in the Eastern Conference. Some even think the team's youthfulness and depth could pose problems for the Miami Heat.
That, of course, is contingent on Rose staying healthy.
The Chicago native has already had some bumps and bruises in his first two NBA seasons, but nothing too serious. Fans are perfectly justified in having concerns about the 21-year-old pushing himself as the starting point guard for USA Basketball.
Yet, that pushing is the exact reason why it's beneficial for Rose to compete in the FIBA Championship. Here are five precise ways in which Rose will be better off for spending his summer in Turkey.
For Derrick Rose to be the best, he has to compete against the best.
While he won't get to test his game against the elite point guards in the NBA (Chris Paul and Deron Williams) during practice, getting tips from a former NBA Finals MVP is not a bad second option.
Chauncey Billups is currently the starting shooting guard for Team USA, but any casual NBA fan knows his natural spot is at the point. As the most veteran player on the U.S. squad, he's surely teaching the young Rose a thing or two about setting up the offense for an All-Star level group.
Rose was already training in the offseason with Tyreke Evans and O.J. Mayo, so he's already figured out he needs tough competitors to further develop his game.
He beat out Rajon Rondo, Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, and other young stars for the starting role, proving he rises to his competition, not shrinks away from it.
And it doesn't hurt for him to earn the respect of Kevin Durant and other young players who will soon be the new faces of the NBA. As many of the 2008 Olympic Team have attested to, playing for one's country creates a strong bond of unity and friendship.
But at the end of the day, Team USA is still a team with an open competition for starting spots. Rose will have to constantly stay sharp to continue running the point for America.
Not to knock Vinny Del Negro any more than he has been, but Rose has yet to really experience expert coaching since stepping into the NBA.
Enter Mike Krzyzewski.
Duke's mastermind has earned the admiration of Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and Dwyane Wade in the past, and has also won several National Championships. So the guy knows his stuff.
That's going to prove valuable for Rose. He is still 21 and still fine-tuning his game. Though Krzyzewski only has a short time with the Bulls star, Coach K can still point out Rose's mistakes and challenge him to fix them.
Rose has proven over his first two seasons in the NBA that he is all about winning and being the best basketball player he can be. So he will definitely take that advice to heart.
Since he's no longer the only star on the team, his coaches are not going to treat him as one, which will be a new and eye-opening experience for Rose, who obviously has always been the best player on his team since high school.
Learning from established leaders will give Rose a heightened sense of the game, and will probably make him further appreciate new Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau's dedication to the intricacies of basketball.
Sure, the game against Spain was an exhibition.
But it was great to see Rose take it upon himself to win the game for Team USA by driving to the basket and scoring, and then calmly sinking two free throws. He was later named the MVP of that game.
Did he have jitters? Definitely.
Is it as meaningful as a Game 7? Probably not.
Still, those kinds of situations are bound to come up again during Team USA's run in the FIBA World Championship. And if the opposing squad focuses on stopping Durant, it will be up to another player, like Rose, to make them pay.
Last season, Rose was the only option the Bulls had, and thus teams would key in on stopping him. That got Rose flustered and frustrated.
Now that Rose proved his mettle against Ricky Rubio, Leandro Barbosa, and other elite international guards, perhaps he will be cooler in the clutch.
Plus, he's no longer alone. Adding Carlos Boozer will help give Rose some room on the outside. Ronnie Brewer will slash to the basket. Kyle Korver can be the one to take the big three-pointer.
And when the game is on the line, Rose will have been there before. He can calmly assess the situation and make the best decision.
Kobe is a superstar. LeBron is a superstar. Carmelo is a superstar.
Rose, not so much. At least not yet.
Any NBA fan will know that Rose is one of the most talented up-and-comers in the Association today, as he made the All-Star team in just his second season.
Yet it's getting the recognition from those casual fans that elevates a player's status. People will pay to see Kobe when he comes to town. Same for LeBron.
But Rose, Durant, even Chris Bosh when he was on the Raptors? They alone cannot command that kind of attention.
All of the mega stars competed in the Beijing Olympics, and thus caught the eyes of the average sports fan who was watching the Games.
Casual sports fans will not be watching the FIBA World Championship, but at least it will keep Rose in the spotlight throughout the summer leading up to the NBA season. If he can help win a World Championship for America, that will be yet another accolade to add to his legacy.
Is it too early to care about that? Absolutely not. Rose appears to be in the NBA to stay, and if his first two years are any indication, he has a bright future. In an atmosphere driven by statistics, "World Champion" is not a bad addition to a career.
If Rose could gain one thing from his experience playing with Team USA, it should be leadership experience.
Look, he's playing point guard for a team that represents the best basketball the U.S. can put on a basketball court. If that's not a confidence booster, what is?
As a member of the Chicago Bulls, Rose seems to have no problems leading his teammates on the floor. But off the court, he is overly shy and humble, almost to a fault. Joakim Noah has become the voice of the team, instead of the squad's only All Star.
Rose said in the offseason that he wants to be "the man" in Chicago and that he was not concerned about having LeBron or another big free agent.
If he wants that role, he has to accept everything that comes with that. Leadership is certainly shown in many ways, but part of that has to be vocal and through the media.
Name one superstar who delegates the task of dealing with the media to a teammate.
Kobe? Nope. LeBron? Definitely not. Wade? He talks. Bosh? He talks and tweets. Carmelo? Nope. Dirk? English isn't his native language, and he still always addresses the media.
Aside from the media, Rose has a slew of new teammates this season, and he has to earn their respect, especially since they are his elders.
He can do that by showing his stuff on the court, but a part of that has to be leading in the locker room as well.
He has the right mentors. He couldn't ask for two better role models than Mike Krzyzewski and Chauncey Billups.
Now it's up to him to make the most of his experience overseas, take Team USA as far as possible, and return to the Bulls as an even better player—and leader—than he was.