Why USA Basketball’s Caitlin Clark Olympics decision is best for everyone

Why USA Basketball’s Caitlin Clark Olympics decision is best for everyone

Despite outrage among fans, USA Basketball’s decision to leave Caitlin Clark off the Team USA women’s basketball roster is best for all parties.
The national team’s roster was finalized on Saturday, and the sport’s most popular player was omitted.

As USA Today’s Christine Brennan noted, the announcement couldn’t have been timed worse considering Clark’s most recent performance.
On Friday night, Clark scored 30 points while making seven threes as the Fever won 85-83 on the road in front of the largest WNBA audience in 17 years. 

It would have been easy for USA Basketball to use Clark’s popularity and potential in the Olympics as a three-point specialist as selling points for her inclusion on Team USA’s roster. 

Even with Clark’s absence, the team has outstanding perimeter shooting. The Olympics will also be the perfect opportunity to showcase the WNBA’s breadth of talent, which extends far beyond Clark.

A’ja Wilson is the sport’s best player, while 2023 MVP winner Breanna Stewart and runner-up Alyssa Thomas are two of the game’s most complete players.

Mercury veterans Diana Taurasi and Brittney Griner are legends in the sport and might be making their final Olympic appearances.

Taurasi is fourth all-time in Olympic scoring (414 points) and first in three-pointers made (78).

Griner averaged 16.5 points per game in the Tokyo Olympics and is shooting 69 percent in 14 career Olympic games. We should celebrate both while they’re still playing.

Others, including Napheesa Collier and Kahleah Copper, are having incredible seasons and are more than deserving of the opportunity.

Collier is on pace to be an MVP finalist this season. Through her first 10 games, she’s averaging 21.6 points, 11.1 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game while shooting 48 percent from the court, including 38.5 percent from distance.

Copper is tied with Clark for the fourth-most made threes per game (2.8) and hit the winning shot against the Lynx with 0.2 seconds on Friday night.

Team USA should be fine without Clark, who, let’s be honest, could use a break. She played her last collegiate game on April 7 and made her WNBA debut a little over a month later on May 14.

Clark has already played 12 games in the pros. By the time the season pauses for the Olympics, she will have played 65 times since Nov. 6, 2023, including college and professional games. Meanwhile, WNBA veterans enjoyed an offseason that began on Oct. 19, 2023.

Because of her run to the NCAA Tournament National Championship Game at Iowa, Clark missed Team USA’s training camp, which can’t be ignored as another factor for her not making the team. When viewed through that lens, it’s even easier to justify the final roster, which could be the best thing for everyone.

Clark can use the hiatus to recharge, while other WNBA stars will have the chance to emerge in front of a global audience.

Of course, fans who enjoy watching Clark play basketball have every right to be disappointed. But once that wears off, it’s easy to see that Team USA’s Olympics decision is mutually beneficial.

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