Caitlin Clark isn’t worthy yet of spot on Olympic U.S. women’s basketball team roster

Three WNBA rookies have made Olympic rosters since the league’s inaugural season in 1997.

Diana Taurasi did in 2004.

Next was Candace Parker in 2008.

The last was Breanna Stewart in 2016.

Caitlin Clark was believed by many to be the next rookie to compete for an Olympic gold medal. So when news broke Saturday that she would not be one of the 12 players to represent Team USA in Paris, the response was what you’d imagine: utterly chaotic.

Every take from players being jealous of Clark — an odd one considering a six-member panel chooses the Olympic roster — to Team USA missing a marketing opportunity was paraded and posted by people who think they have a clue and others who are paid to have one. The answer to one question should have saved us all from the headache.

Is Clark one of the top 12 players available to represent Team USA?

The answer, plain and simple, is no.

If that’s not enough for you, consider this: The 12 players on the roster have been competing together in the Olympic pool for the last three years.

Going back to 2022, the U.S. has held multiple camps. The USA Basketball women’s national team won its fourth consecutive World Cup in October 2022. It included eight of the 12 players named to the Olympic roster. In 2023 and 2024, training camps continued.

Clark was absent from all of them and for good reason. She could have participated in camps in April in 2023 and 2024 if she had not led Iowa to back-to-back NCAA title games.

Still not sold?

Consider the guard pool that the panel had to select from.

Diana Taurasi, Chelsea Gray, Kelsey Plum, Jackie Young, Sabrina Ionescu and Jewell Loyd are the pure guards on the roster. Then there’s Kahleah Copper, the 2021 Finals MVP with the Sky, who is more of a shooting guard/small forward.

Of those six players, who would you replace with Clark?

If your answer is Taurasi, you clearly aren’t considering the value of having a five-time Olympic gold medalist and one of the game’s greatest leaders.

The national team doesn’t need the exposure that follows Clark. This is the most dominant basketball program in existence, with a 70-3 Olympic record, attempting to make history by becoming the first team to win eight consecutive medals.

“It’s been so consistent for us winning a gold medal,” Olympic gold and bronze medalist and Sky coach Teresa Weatherspoon said. “You know everyone is after you. You’re just as hungry as everyone else, and it’s different because you’re in a USA uniform. All the incredible talent that you’re playing with, you’re not in different uniforms. All that talent is now in one.”

Calling Clark an Olympic snub is an overreaction, considering her inexperience playing in coach Cheryl Reeve’s system and the fact that she’s just not one of the 12 best players at this point. After 12 games in the WNBA, Clark is averaging 16.8 points, 5.3 rebounds and 6.3 assists and shooting 32.7% from three.

One argument in favor of Clark’s inclusion is that it would be beneficial for her to have Olympic experience before 2028. However, how much would it truly matter if she’s averaging less than 10 minutes on a loaded team?

The committee’s decision to omit Clark was in favor of putting together a team with experience sharing the court. Anybody who is going to use that as an excuse either not to watch or not cover the Olympics is missing out on the stories of players who contributed to bringing USA Basketball to this historic moment.

Clark will be just fine. Like any scorned competitor, she’s already using this moment as a launching pad.

“They woke a monster,” Clark told her Fever coach, Christie Sides, after learning of her Olympic omission.

Good Lord, what more do you need? Aren’t eyeballs the whole package, the goal? The U.S. women’s Olympic basketball team has won seven consecutive gold medals. Like, Clark will damage that?

When the Sky selected Cardoso and Reese in April with the third and seventh overall picks in the WNBA Draft, their vision for the future was an imposing frontcourt tandem. Ten games into the season, that future is here.

The 10-year veteran, was averaging 10 points, seven rebounds and 1.7 blocks before her injury. Her leadership, however, might prove to be the most significant loss for the Sky.

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