LaMarcus Aldridge. Harrison Barnes. Bradley Beal. DeMar DeRozan. Kenneth Faried. Rudy Gay.
The five players listed above were all included when USA Basketball revealed its list of 30 finalists for the 2016 U.S. Olympic team on Monday.
Not included on the roster? Paul Millsap.
It must be stated that the organization at least attempts to take an appropriate mixture of players with regard to position, and as a result, players like Beal and DeRozan (or even Gordon Hayward, etc.) shouldn’t be directly compared to Millsap. However, the best player on the Atlanta Hawks roster is probably the most significant "snub" for Coach K and company.
Millsap is a sure-fire selection for the 2016 All-Star game, and as we wrote in this space (later supported by ESPN’s Zach Lowe), he should be in legitimate contention to start for the East. The 30-year-old power forward is averaging 18.4 points and 8.7 rebounds per game this season, which won’t blow anyone away, but he is producing those numbers while posting a 23.5 PER and a 57.9% true shooting (both career-highs) and that helps to separate Millsap from the pack.
To be fair, USA Basketball is charged with evaluating more than one half-season of production, but Millsap’s overall performance in recent years should be rewarded with inclusion. Positional flexibility is valued by the national team, and Millsap provides it with his ability to step out and shoot from the perimeter while guarding smaller and bigger players with effectiveness. In addition, his game does not "need the ball" to be effective, making Millsap a theoretical fit next to the list of superstars available to Coach K and his staff on a regular basis.
Make no mistake, it would not be a "snub" if Paul Millsap wasn’t selected to the 12-man team for the 2016 Olympics. That isn’t the debate here. What is crazy, though, is to consider a 30-player group from the United States that doesn’t include Paul Millsap in it for basketball reasons. He is one of the top 20 players in the NBA overall (including those who hail from countries outside of the U.S.) and, objectively, that raises the eye brows of anyone who is evaluating this list.
We could take a deep dive into individual players (hello, Rudy Gay) but in the grand scheme, Paul Millsap not being included is a blip on the radar and he virtually declined comment when asked about the group this week. Still, it defies logic to see a handful of the players included when compared to the realization that Millsap is on the outside of that group.