COMMENTARY | Damian Lillard took an important first step in his quest to represent the United States as he is one of 27 players invited to July's Team USA mini-camp.
While Lillard stood out in his first season in the NBA, he is one of only seven camp invitees without prior USA Basketball experience, and will face stiff competition for a spot on any future US National team. Let's take a look at some of the point guards Lillard will be competing against.
The Mini-Camp Invitees
The list is a who's-who of young lead guards and should make for some very interesting match-ups at camp.
Conley is likely the most pure point guard of the group, but Lillard's ability space the floor with his shooting and play off the ball may allow him to stand out.
The team will practice for three days (July 22-24) and hold a public intra-squad game on July 25. By that time we will have a good idea of where Lillard stands against this group.
When you've led your country to the gold medal, as this trio did in 2012, it's safe to assume that your roster spot is secure should you choose to participate. Williams and Paul will only be in their early thirties when the 2016 Olympics roll around, and Westbrook should be in his prime at 28 years old.
It's impossible to predict, but as it stands today it would be a tough task to beat out any of these three for a spot on the team.
Stephen Curry, Derrick Rose, and Rajon Rondo
Health and availability will play a huge roll in who ultimately makes the team, but these three have to be considered among the favorites if healthy.
Rondo, after leaving the 2012 team for personal reasons before final roster cuts were made, said at the time that he had no interest in playing for Team USA going forward. However, the mercurial Rondo could change his mind at any time, and his skills should still garner him consideration, assuming he hasn't burned all of his bridges at USA Basketball.
It's clear that Team USA has plenty of choices at the point guard position, and a ton of star power. At this point Damian Lillard making the team looks to be an uphill battle, but as the Blazers rookie has said again and again: he's been proving the doubters wrong his entire life.
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- Damian Lillard
- Mike Conley
- Kemba Walker
- USA Basketball
- Kyrie Irving