MADRID -- After more than three weeks in Spain, it's time to start relocating this operation back to the Power Rankings Dungeon in Dallas.
After all: Did you know that next season -- and thus the season's first batch of new rankings -- is a mere 10 days away?
While you process that, here's something else to digest and discuss: Stein Line Live's 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup All-Tournament Team.
Except that this one features six players instead of the FIBA standard of five because, well, just because. I wasn't extended a ballot to vote for the official squad FIBA named, so why not invent my own format?
Forwards: Nicolas Batum (France) and Kenneth Faried (USA)
Batum I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that the Blazers probably would have preferred that Batum take the summer off from national-team duty. Especially when they saw Tony Parker and Joakim Noah sitting out for France. But Batum wound up playing two of the best games of his life in the semis and the third-place game, leaving us all with a much more favorable impression than he did in London two summers ago with that infamous crotch punch on Spain's Juan Carlos Navarro.
Faried's inclusion here, meanwhile, surely can't be a surprise. You know by now that the World Cup media couldn't get enough of his outspoken nature ... even if he did claim to be "massively disrespected" probably more than he needed to. You also presumably know that, more important, Team USA relied hugely on the energy and edge Faried brought to proceedings, especially early in the tournament when his offensive rebounding frequently bailed out a team struggling to flow in the half court.
Center: Anthony Davis (USA)
Davis Can't let one foul-plagued night on Championship Sunday diminish Davis' presence for Team USA. As promised, Davis was a force for much of the tournament. And with apologies to the princely Pau Gasol -- who snagged the center spot on the official All-Tourney squad ahead of Davis -- there are a couple more 5s I'd have to put ahead of him because Spain's quarterfinal exit was legitimately that disappointing. Serbia's Miroslav Raduljica helped his nation to a silver-medal finish even the biggest dreamers back in Belgrade couldn't have fathomed, while Jonas Valanciunas had a similar effect in leading stubborn Lithuania to the final four without injured point guard Mantas Kalnietis.
Guards: James Harden (USA) and Milos Teodosic (Serbia)
Harden I realize Kyrie Irving was named FIBA's tournament MVP. I'm also well aware that Harden's defense, even against this lower level of competition, turned folks off back home much the way his Houston D does. I'd still argue that Harden's offense was telling for Team USA more often than Irving's or anyone else's. Harden's 16-point third quarter in the semifinals against Lithuania was just one example. (P.S. I'd say, after getting a look in person, that Harden's beard does trump Raduljica's too.)
Teodosic, meanwhile, narrowly edges out Irving too because (A) there are too many Americans on this team already and (B) Serbia has to have a representative here after somehow surviving the far tougher side of the draw to make it all the way to the title game. You saw enough in Sunday's championship mismatch -- when Teodosic had a hand in every point of Serbia's fast start -- to know why the 27-year-old is seen as NBA material if he ever decides he wants to make the leap. He went anywhere he wanted on the court early on ... but predictably couldn't keep up that pace without more help.
Sixth Man: Klay Thompson (USA)
Thompson He guarded players at three different positions. He was Team USA's most consistent outside shooter. He also came off the bench in real life for his team. Thompson, then, was the natural choice here. You heard it here first: Thompson is so beloved by Mike Krzyzewski and the rest of the Team USA coaches for his two-way tenacity and effectiveness that he's a lock to be on the 2016 Olympic team. Doesn't matter who from the supposed first string does or doesn't come back.