Atlanta Hawks star Trae Young may be a fit for the U.S. men's national team in the future, he just wasn't what the Olympic team was looking for in 2021.
Speaking to reporters about Young's snub, Team USA managing director Jerry Colangelo defended his decision by saying Young's skill set didn't fit what the team needed to compete in Tokyo.
"I'm happy that he wants to play for USA Basketball," Colangelo said. "He's done really well in the NBA. But predicated on what we felt we needed, he didn't fit the bill this time around. He's a young player, he has a future with USA Basketball, but it was the opinion of our staff that it wasn't now. It's for others to make the declaration you made a mistake."
Those types of comments may come back to haunt Colangelo if Team USA continues to struggle against top competition. The U.S. Olympic team dropped exhibitions to Nigeria and Australia before traveling to Tokyo, then dropped its Olympic opener to France, 83-76.
Roster construction may not be the sole reason for those stumbles, but it is among the first questions to ask about the team's struggles. Colangelo knows this. He's also convinced the United States will make those questions irrelevant by winning gold this summer.
"If we don't win, people will have their opportunity to take shots. I'm the one that has to look in the mirror and know that I did my best," Colangelo said. "I'll tell you in advance the answer is yes. I believe we're going to win."
Young is still just 22 years old, coming off his first postseason run and beginning to reach his prime. He averaged 25.3 points, 9.4 assists and shot 43.8 percent from the field in 63 games last season.
By the next Olympics in 2024, Young will be 26 and likely an established star on the global stage. As much as Team USA would love to carry every talented American it can, Colangelo said the pandemic changed how he was able to scout for the national team and he was left relying more on his experience as much as anything.
"It's challenging when you can't even go out the door, except to practice or to a game. It's really hard," Colangelo said. "If all things were equal, we all had the same time to practice, we all had our rosters set... I don't think we'd be having this discussion. I don't. But that's not the case. So we are going to do everything we can to overcome it now, and I believe we will."