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Gregg Popovich second-guesses cutting Bam Adebayo from Team USA

Bam Adebayo

LAS VEGAS, NV - AUGUST 06: Bam Adebayo handles the ball during the 2019 USA Basketball Men’s National Team Training Camp at Mendenhall Center on the University of Nevada, Las Vegas campus on August 06, 2019 in Las Vegas Nevada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

NBAE via Getty Images

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.

Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press:

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?