Ja Morant, C.J. McCollum not among Team USA finalists for Tokyo Olympics

Trail Blazers guard C.J. McCollum and Grizzlies guard Ja Morant
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Team USA, preparing for the Tokyo Olympics, named 57 finalists for the men’s basketball roster roster.

You’d think that’d be enough to cover all the top American players.

But there are plenty of notable omissions, including: Grizzlies guard Ja Morant, Trail Blazers guard C.J. McCollum, Suns forward Mikal Bridges, Hawks big John Collins, Hornets rookie LaMelo Ball, Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr., Kings rookie Tyrese Haliburton, Kings center Richaun Holmes, Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson and Bulls forward Thaddeus Young.

Morant is a particularly strange omission. The Memphis point guard is one of the NBA’s most electric young players. He’s already good and has the tools to improve rapidly, even by the summer. He was also reportedly to be invited.

McCollum was playing like an MVP this season before getting hurt. That’s a small sample, yes. But he’d warrant Olympic consideration if he returns at anywhere near where he left off.

Bridges is the type of low-usage glue player who’d fit well as the 12th man for Team USA. He’s a versatile defender who shoots well from beyond the arc.

The other mentioned omitted players could be worthy if many stars sit out, like they did in the 2019 World Cup. Kawhi Leonard said he planned to play. Otherwise, top players have expressed plenty of uncertainty, given the coronavirus pandemic and altered NBA season.

This list of finalists provides some insight into USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo’s and Team USA coach Gregg Popovich’s thinking. But the list of “finalists” isn’t necessarily final. Players could always be added to the roster pool later. So, it isn’t worth getting too worked up about snubs.

Two players who were finalists back when the Olympics were still scheduled for 2020 – Celtics guard Marcus Smart and Warriors guard Klay Thompson – no longer crack the list. Thompson suffered another devastating injury. Smart has his own health concerns.

Shams Charania of The Athletic

The full list of finalists (new addition*):