According to a variety of sources, the Trail Blazers’ own LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard will be part of USA Basketball’s 2014 player pool. Aldridge’s inclusion comes from ESPN’s Marc Stein, while Chris Haynes of Comcast Sports reported soon after that Lillard has also been included.
This is fantastic news for both the players, as well as the team as a whole. Participation in any sort of National Team activity is an incredible chance for the players to gain invaluable experience, while having two players in the pool will also certainly raise awareness about the Blazers as a team. More publicity is never a bad thing, especially for a smaller market team scrapping for national attention.
The chance to gain experience will be especially valuable for Damian Lillard, who will still only be two seasons into his fledgling career when any National Team commitments occur this summer. Playing with and against the game’s other greats will give him a chance to see first-hand what it takes to reach that level. On LaMarcus Aldridge’s side, his selection should erase any doubts (if any remain), about his elite status in the league today.
Both Lillard and Aldridge have previous experience with the National Team – Lillard took place in a USA Basketball mini-camp last summer, and Aldridge was a finalist for the 2012 London Summer Olympics team that eventually won a gold medal. He could not participate, though, because of hip surgery he had to undergo.
Both players are also currently in the midst of career years, as Aldridge is averaging 24.2 points (sixth in the league) and 11.6 rebounds (also sixth in the league) per game, and Lillard is averaging 21.2 points (14th in the league) and 3.1 three-pointers (second in the league) per game.
Marc Stein’s tweet also indicates that along with Aldridge, Steph Curry and DeMarcus Cousins have earned berths in the player pool as well. An official announcement from USA Basketball is expected on Thursday.
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