Caitlin Clark didn’t deserve to make Olympics team for USA Basketball, and that’s fine


United States women’s basketball has a case as the most dominant team at the Olympics in any sport. Team USA has won seven straight gold medals in women’s basketball. It hasn’t lost a game in the Olympics since 1992. The U.S. has won its gold medal game by an average of 22 points over the last seven Olympics, and none of those games has been decided by single-digits.

With the WNBA still relatively in its infancy in its 28th season, making the Olympic team is often considered the highest honor in the career of a women’s basketball player. Many of the greatest players in the history of the game have won gold with Team USA, from Cheryl Miller to Lisa Leslie to Tamika Catchings to Maya Moore to Diana Taurasi to Breanna Stewart and A’ja Wilson.

Caitlin Clark is going to join that list one day. She’s just not deserving of that honor yet.

Team USA announced the 12-player roster for 2024 Paris Olympics on Sunday, and it has a case to be the most talented group the program has ever put together. Stewart and Wilson are the headliners as the two best players in the world. Napheesa Collier and Alyssa Thomas make the roster after being named First-Team All-WNBA last season. Jewell Loyd, Sabrina Ionescu, Chelsea Gray, and Jackie Young each made Second-Team All-WNBA last season. Add in Kelsey Plum (First-Team All-WNBA in 2022) and the legend Taurasi, and Team USA has the makings of an all-time great roster.

Of course, the headline news from the roster announcement was who didn’t make the team. That would be Clark, who was left off during her rookie year just months after after being drafted into the league.

Clark is the most famous women’s basketball player on the planet — and one of the most famous athletes in the world, full stop. She earned that distinction based on her electric college career, where she broke the all-time NCAA scoring record (for men or women) while leading Iowa to the two Final Four appearances. Clark has brought a new level of attention to the WNBA since being drafted, but not all of the discourse surrounding her young career has been in good faith.

It makes sense that people want to watch Clark on the biggest stage in women’s basketball, but giving her a spot on this team without merit wouldn’t have been fair to the other players who waited their turn and earned a spot through their play. Here’s why Clark didn’t deserve a spot on Team USA just yet.

Caitlin Clark is not one of the 12 best American players yet

If you’re adding Clark to the team, who are you taking off?

  • A’ja Wilson
  • Breanna Stewart
  • Diana Taurasi
  • Brittney Griner
  • Alyssa Thomas
  • Napheesa Collier
  • Jewell Loyd
  • Kelsey Plum
  • Jackie Young
  • Sabrina Ionescu
  • Chelsea Gray
  • Kahleah Copper

Taurasi is the only player who doesn’t have a case to be on the team based on merit. She’s also arguably the greatest American player of all-time, has five gold medals to her name, and is something of the spiritual leader of the team at age-41.

Everyone else on the roster fills a team need: Griner for size and defense, Thomas for her all-around game at the forward spot, Copper for her rim pressure and wing scoring, Gray for her playmaking, Ionescu her shooting, etc.

There are no players as young as Clark on the team

The youngest players on the roster are Ionescu and Young, who are each 26 years old. Young was the No. 1 pick in the 2019 WNBA Draft out of Notre Dame, while Ionescu was the first pick in the 2020 draft out of Oregon.

Clark is only 22 years old. As the No. 1 pick in the 2024 draft, she has to wait her turn for a spot to open up on the roster. That will happen by the next Olympic games in 2028, and even then she will still be among the youngest players on the team in all likelihood.

FIBA play is typically more physical than the NBA/WNBA, and if there’s one area of the game Clark struggles with right now, it’s physicality. That’s to be expected for a 22-year-old who still needs to add muscle to her frame. It will happen over time, but it hasn’t happened yet.

Team USA already has too many guards

The backcourt for Team USA is stacked: Plum brings speed and shooting, Loyd brings two-way toughness and three-level scoring, Ionescu is a jumbo playmaker and knockdown shooter, and Gray is a Point God level facilitator. That’s five guards on the 12-woman roster without including Kahleah Copper, who can play the two or the three.

There are bigger snubs than Clark

Arike Ogunbowale has a case for the biggest snub on Team USA. The 27-year-old is currently No. 2 in the WNBA in scoring at 26.6 points per game. Ogunbowale has been a stud for years in the league, and still couldn’t crack the 12-person roster.

Rhyne Howard, a talented wing scorer who was the No. 1 pick in the 2022 draft, also didn’t make the roster. Making Team USA is hard!

Team USA knows what it’s doing

Once again, the United States hasn’t lost a women’s basketball game at the Olympics since 1992! The leaders of the program know how to put together a winning team, and their judgement shouldn’t be questioned.

It’s awesome that more people are watching women’s basketball because of Clark. She’s a thrilling player, and is already a very good WNBA guard. But she’s not one of the 12-best American players just yet at 22 years old.

If you know anything about Clark, you know that getting cut from Team USA in high school was the start of her superstar explosion in the basketball world. We can’t wait to see how she uses this “snub” to fuel her over the next four years.



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