The Daily Illini

USA Basketball makes mistake with World Cup roster

The FIBA World Cup won’t cause as much excitement throughout the planet as much as the FIFA World Cup, but USA’s final roster choices have caused quite the chatter.

After a 112-86 win in an exhibition against Puerto Rico Friday night, USA Basketball announced the final 12-man roster that will represent the United States at the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain.

Stephen Curry, Kyrie Irving and Derrick Rose will handle the point guard duties. Wing players DeMar DeRozan, Rudy Gay, James Harden and Klay Thompson also made the cut. DeRozan’s inclusion on the roster certainly came as a surprise to me, but the real shocker was USA Basketball’s decision to retain all five of its big men from training camp — DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis, Andre Drummond, Kenneth Faried and Mason Plumlee — thus sending Gordon Hayward, Kyle Korver, Damian Lillard and Chandler Parsons back home.

With an expected championship game of Spain and the U.S., it’s completely understandable to want a deep frontcourt that can hold its own against Spain’s Gasol brothers and Serge Ibaka, but that doesn’t make it the right decision. If the roster were composed of 15 members, five bigs wouldn’t seem so bad. But on a 12-man team, it sounds ridiculous. At least, that’s what I initially thought.

After pondering the roster for a few days, I’ve come to the conclusion it’s necessary for the U.S. to have more possible frontcourt lineups to matchup with Spain’s dominant big men. Spain’s frontcourt really is a threat. It’s the most intimidating one out of all of those that will be in the World Cup, but that doesn’t change the fact one of the four who were cut should have made the roster.

Lillard would be a nice addition, but someone had to be let go with so many elite point guards. And it’s not like he would have received much playing time since head coach Mike Krzyzewski has already stated Irving and Rose will play significant minutes. Curry, on the other hand, is a point guard but has been partially used as a two-guard lately, so the space just isn’t there for Lillard. But what about the remaining three?

Go ahead and laugh at me, but Hayward, Korver and Parsons are all on my list of favorite basketball players, so I would have gladly accepted any of them making the final cut; however, Parsons is the one who definitely should have made the cut.

As upsetting as it is to say, there’s no need for Korver when the Splash Brothers are already on the roster. Hayward plays similarly to Parsons, but Parsons has a bit more length. He also knows how to contribute while playing alongside superstars, particularly James Harden and Dwight Howard. In fact, Parsons managed to put up career highs in total points, rebounds, assists and steals in his first and only season with both Harden and Howard.

What really makes Parsons a good fit, though, is his versatility. He can score in the paint, from mid-range and from the perimeter, and his ability to defend doesn’t hurt either. He can consistently be relied on at both ends of the court and in various aspects of the game — whether that be scoring points or crashing the boards — and that’s something every team should want in a player.

If Parsons were to take anyone’s spot on this team, it should be DeRozan’s spot. Thompson couldn’t be let go with his tremendous shooting ability, and both Gay and Harden can really score. Gay also has the advantage of having been on the USA team that won gold at the 2010 FIBA World Championship. As for DeRozan, he can score as well, dish out assists and rebound, but he lacks the defense and 3-point shooting Parsons offers.

Not only would Parsons be an upgrade over DeRozan, but he’d also be able to complement Harden.

Harden and Parsons played alongside one another for the past two seasons as the starting two and three on the Houston Rockets. They’re familiar with each other’s games, and it’d be smart to use that to the team’s advantage. Plus, it’d be nice to have a good defender paired alongside Harden in the lineup, because Harden certainly won’t be locking down anyone anytime soon.

The U.S. will open World Cup play Saturday against Finland. It’ll be done without Chandler Parsons, but it’s not the first time he’ll be passed on. Just like all of those teams who let Parsons fall to the second round in the 2011 NBA Draft, Team USA will come to regret it.

Ashley is a sophomore in Media. She can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @wijangco12.

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