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The case for Trae Young and John Collins joining USA Basketball’s National Team

The Select Team is one thing but the National Team is another.

Philadelphia 76ers v Atlanta Hawks Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images

Trae Young and John Collins will be busy in early August, as the two centerpieces of Atlanta Hawks will be a part of the USA Basketball Men’s Select Team. Young and Collins will be joined by intriguing young players like Marvin Bagley and De’Aaron Fox, and the pair will be on the floor in Las Vegas, competing against members of USA Basketball’s National Team.

In announcing the inclusion of Young and Collins on the Select Team, Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk expressed excitement about the recognition from an organizational standpoint.

“As an organization, we’re very excited for John and Trae to train and compete with the USA Basketball National Team program this summer,” Schlenk said. “We are proud of their selection and believe this experience will enhance their growth and development as basketball players.”

The honor shouldn’t be overlooked for Young and Collins but, in the same breath, it is hard to ignore the reality that, well, they should be on the National Team roster instead. For reference, here is the current 17-man group that will shrink to 12 members for the FIBA World Cup in late August and September.

Guards: Kemba Walker, Kyle Lowry, Donovan Mitchell, Marcus Smart

Wings/Forwards: Khris Middleton, Jayson Tatum, Harrison Barnes, PJ Tucker, Jaylen Brown, Thaddeus Young, Kyle Kuzma

Bigs - Myles Turner, Brook Lopez, Andre Drummond, Montrezl Harrell, Julius Randle, Mason Plumlee

It is almost cliche at this point to discuss the barren nature of this National Team roster when compared to previous iterations and we’re not breaking any ground. With that said, it is painfully clear that Young and Collins fit more snugly with the “big” club than they do with the Select Team.

From the perspective of Collins, it is almost comical to see a few names that, to this point, are included on the National Team. Simply put, the third-year big man is quite clearly a superior option when compared to players like Mason Plumlee and Montrezl Harrell, with (very) logical cases for Collins over the likes of Julius Randle and Kyle Kuzma. Less-heralded options like Thaddeus Young, PJ Tucker and Brook Lopez make more sense as veterans with defined roles but, in short, gripes from Hawks fans about Collins’ exclusion seem warranted.

With regard to Young, things are slightly less clear-cut, as Fox has two NBA seasons under his belt and might be ahead of Young in a logical pecking order, even if Young’s shooting might provide a better international fit. Still, the roster is unbalanced at this juncture, with myriad bigs and only four guards, and Kyle Lowry is battling an injury that could keep him sidelined. Throw in the fact that Marcus Smart is on board seemingly as a jack-of-all-trades defensive player, rather than an offensive engine, and a case could be made that both Fox and Young should be on the big-league squad.

Things won’t look quite as funny when the 17-man roster is pared down to 12, at least if sanity prevails with some of the selections. For now, though, Young and Collins are violently overqualified for the Select Team and, even when acknowledging their relative youth and inexperience, no one would bat an eye if they got “the call” as talented players with attributes conducive to international competition.

It might be too late for a change but, let’s be honest, we’re making up the rules as we go along. It’s time to promote the kids and profit.