We’re closing in on the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan. That means that we are getting closer to seeing who will represent USA Basketball. Recently, they announced who the final 44 players will move on to the next phase in deciding who will travel to Japan this Summer.
The list persists of players that participated in the 2016 Olympics, 2012 Olympics, and last year’s FIBA World Cup. Although, that only equates to 28 of the 44 finalists. With 14 new faces fighting for a spot on this 12-man roster, one would think that one of those newbies is second-year guard Trae Young. Trae is fourth in the NBA in points per game, averaging 29.7 and is second in assists per game, averaging 9.1 per game. To be near the top in both of those statistical categories and to not even be in the top 44 finalists to represent the USA seems outrageous. I am here to tell you that it actually does make sense.
Trae Young is by far one of the worst defenders in the NBA. To add, he’s a guard thus putting him against the toughest players to guard in the world in other guards. Now, by all means he is not lazy on defense. He moves around and is even fourth among guards in charges taken. It’s just that his size gets taken advantage of. Just like defenses, offenses even key in on Trae whenever he’s in the game. Atlanta recently improved their paint presence by trading for Clint Capela as well as Dewayne Dedmon but it’s clear as day to see that their inside defense needs to be more sturdy since guards are getting past Trae on their way to the basket. Defense may not be a key factor in the NBA, but other countries play a lot more team basketball which will require the USA to lock in defensively every time they step onto the court. That’s why a player like Derrick White made the list. He isn’t the greatest scorer, but he’s good on defense and can knock down 3’s (he also made the list because Coach Pop is his coach in the NBA.)
Trae still has plenty of room to grow on the defensive end but on the bright side, it’s only his second year in the league and he just turned 21 prior to this season. He can already say he’s an All-Star starter and one of the best scorer’s in the league too. The sky is the floor for him at the rate that he is progressing. I’m sure by the 2024 Olympics we will see his name within the final 44 player pool and possibly even on the 12-man roster but, until then, the grind continues!