Hawks’ Trae Young gets honest about Team USA snub

Atlanta Hawks. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports
Atlanta Hawks. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports /

There aren’t many individual accomplishments that Atlanta Hawks star Trae Young has openly stumped for.

Even one of the few that he has – a place on Team USA – comes from with noble intentions.

“I definitely want to,” Young said on “Gil’s Arena” with Gilbert Arenas on August 4. “I’ve talked about playing on USA a couple times. So I definitely want to. It’s up to them if they want me to. I mean I would love to play with guys and show off my passing even more and not have to go out and score a lot and just be there if they need me to.”

While the Team USA roster for the 2024 Olympics in Paris has not yet officially been announced, Young was left off the roster for the 2023 FIBA World Cup, set to begin at the end of August.

“I’d be happy to obviously,” Young said. “I’d love to play. But I respect the OGs, and understand you gotta take your turn. But I believe I should be on there.”

Young, 24, led the NBA in total assists for the second consecutive season and led the league in total points scored the year before in a feat not seen since the 60s. He averaged 26.2 points, 10.2 assists, and 3.0 rebounds while tying his career-high mark with 1.1 steals per game this past season.

But he has earned a reputation as a player who needs the ball in his hands to succeed. Add to that his small stature in comparison to some of the other players who made the list and there are but one or two who he could – and probably should – be up to replace.

“He’s…underrated at this point,” Young’s friend and Denver Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. told Taylor Rooks for Bleacher Report in July. “People don’t realize how good Trae is. He led the league in points and assists, and then he wasn’t an All-Star. “I don’t I don’t see how that happens. It’s weird.”

Arenas certainly agrees about Young’s exclusion from the FIBA Team USA roster.

“When they talk about point guards…I’m putting Trae up there with pretty much anyone,” Porter said. “He can pass, shoot, he has a crazy IQ. I think he’s one of the best passers in the league, can shoot from deep, and I’ve played with him so I know how good he is.”

There is still hope, though.

Trae Young’s next shot to represent Hawks on Team USA comes next summer

The Team USA roster that takes the court for the FIBA World Cup is not likely to resemble the one that will fight for gold in the Olympics next summer.

“It is not a group of A-list names likely to load the roster at the Olympics next summer in Paris,” wrote ESPN’s Brian Windhorst on July 6. “But with the World Cup and the Olympics now played in back-to-back summers…top American players are mostly limiting their participation to one of the competitions, opening opportunities for young talent.”

It does not sound as though Young was approached about joining the FIBA World Cup roster.

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But it certainly sounds as though he is still eyeing an invite to the Olympics and could bolster his case with a strong 2023-24 campaign.