Today, USA Basketball CEO Jeff Genthner discussed the decision to cut Julius Randle from the U.S. Olympic team. In a statement, Genthner elaborated on his reasoning, “Julius Randle is someone who had a fantastic year, but we were debating which of the remaining guys we would bring to the Olympic training camp. Julius Randle was one of the guys that was not in the mix for this team. We are very excited about the 12 guys that are going to camp and have an opportunity to represent our country in Rio.”

In this day and age, there are only a handful of professional athletes who have the distinction of being the youngest to play in the NBA. The New Orleans Pelicans’ Julius Randle proves to be one of those few, as he is the fourth youngest player to debut in the league. As a teenager, it is difficult for most to believe that a man who is still a teenager will have the stamina and strength to maintain a position at the top of the game. But, despite the odds, Randle is already half of the way there.

The US national team, which includes NBA players, enjoyed a stellar run through the FIBA Americas tournament, sweeping their way to the gold medal game. While the team’s performance was impressive, none of the stars were given a place on the initial roster for the Olympic squad. That’s not because of poor play, but rather because of their age. Julius Randle, the only NBA player that was not on the initial roster, is the next big thing in American basketball, and it is evident that he will be a star in the future.

After a brilliant season that brought the New York Knicks back to the top, Julius Randle was voted the NBA’s most productive player and was part of the second All-NBA team. But he won’t be an Olympian. Randle was not part of the team, which also features nine first-year Olympians, after a career year (24.1 points, 10.2 rebounds and 6.0 assists per game). He also improved his three-point shooting from 27.7 percent to 41.1 percent with more volume.

That’s an almost unprecedented jump for a player in his seventh NBA season. Ironically, one of the players who made the U.S. national basketball team to play in Tokyo made the same leap.

So why isn’t Julius Randle on the list?

Did Julius Randle’s decision not to go to USA Basketball 2019 camp play a role?

New York Knicks’ Julius Randle reacts during Game 4 of the Eastern Conference first round against the Atlanta Hawks. | Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Julius Randle signed a three-year, $62.1 million contract with the New York Knicks in the summer of 2019. He joined the New Orleans Pelicans on a one-year contract for 2018-19. It was worth it: Randle averaged 21.4 points per game.

Randle also received a late invitation to the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup training camp from USA Basketball. Team USA has struggled to contract top players for non-Olympic games, and Randle was a welcome addition.

In men’s soccer (or football, as we call it in the United States), the FIFA World Cup is the ultimate international tournament. The Olympics are a secondary goal, especially for the U23 players. In basketball, it’s just the opposite. It’s all about the Olympics. The FIBA Basketball World Cup will not be held until 2019. Before that, it was just the FIBA World Championship.

Randle arrived at camp but left early. According to a press release from USA Basketball, he has family reasons. If the selection process in Tokyo was as close as the officials claim, Randle was probably not at an advantage.

Was Randle’s lack of international experience worth it?

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One of the most controversial picks in Tokyo was that of veteran Kevin Love. He played in just 25 games for the Cleveland Cavaliers this season and missed at least 22 games four of the last five seasons. In the 2020-21 season, Love averaged 24.9 minutes per game. His 7.4 rebounds per night are also the worst of his career, and his 12.2 points per game is his lowest average since his debut year in 2008-09.

USA Basketball general manager Jerry Colangelo told the New York Post that Love’s international experience played an important role in his selection. Julius Randle never played for the senior team. According to RealGM, Randle’s only appearance on the national team was with the U18 team in the 2012 U.S. Championship. Randle’s playoff woes (29.8% field goal percentage in five games in the first round) may have also played a role.

Love was part of the gold medal team in London in 2012, as well as the U.S. national basketball team at the 2010 FIBA World Championships. This tournament was also won by the United States.

No matter who you vote for, there are always a few names that come up as to why they aren’t there. Randle was there. He was one of our considerations. Especially when there were injuries and we lost a few players.

Jerry Colangelo

Colangelo also said he wants to add role players to the roster. Another first option on the team would be less than ideal.

The irony of Julius Randle’s absence from the U.S. national team

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Julius Randle won the Most Improved Player award this season, receiving 98 out of 100 first-time votes. But the other two votes went to Detroit Pistons forward Jerami Grant, who may have had the biggest breakthrough, albeit on a much smaller stage.

Grant averaged 22.3 points per game for the Pistons, who signed him to a three-year, $60 million contract in November 2020. Although he missed 18 games with a knee injury (especially late in the season, when the Pistons may have wanted to get rid of and give minutes to younger players), Grant shined in his first chance to become a primary scorer.

Grant’s previous career high was 13.6 points per game with the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2018-19 season. That’s the only season he averaged more than 10 shots per game, and this season he’s averaging 17.3 per game. Par conséquent, il correspond davantage à la définition d’un joueur de rôle.

Julius Randle had the resume to compete in the Olympics. But in the end, USA Basketball chose an older man (Kevin Love) and an even newer man (Jerami Grant).

Statistics provided by Basketball Reference.

COMPARED TO: Julius Randle received an important lesson in self-sacrifice from Kobe Bryant that paid off

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