James Harden was considered the captain of last years Gold Medal winning FIBA team in Madrid. Looking at the 2014 USA FIBA Team, 3 roster stars who played key roles ended up playing in the NBA Finals: Kyrie Irving, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, 8 out of the 12 participated in the post season and Harden reached the Western Conference Finals.
James Harden will join Team USA mini camp pic.twitter.com/dp0c16AULr
— Rockets Social (@Rockets_Social) July 26, 2015
It’s often said when players are part of these national teams early in their career it provides experience that helps them learn how to take a more active leadership role for their NBA squads. USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski called Harden “as good a leader as we’ve had for this team“. For his part Harden referenced learning to be more vocal especially with younger players which we saw play out this season with his Houston Rockets.
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) July 27, 2015
While many of the top NBA players weren’t on last seasons USA team like LeBron James and Kevin Durant (who chose to pull out following the horrific injury to Paul George) they like some other key Team USA contributors don’t need to attend camp to secure their roster spot. In fact Harden could likely skip the camp and still make the team, but there is added incentive to retain his leadership role or be seen to be a leader by the team management. In fact many players who didn’t participate last season like Blake Griffin are expected to attend and there’s a simple reason: next summer the Rio De Janeiro Olympics occur.
Among the 27 players expected to participate in the mini training camp there are a variety of stars and up and coming players: Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, Draymond Green, Blake Griffin, Jimmy Butler, Mike Conley, Gordon Hayward, Mason Plumlee and Bradley Beal.
There are also expected to players attending camp more from a support angle and likely to continue their summer work-outs. Four of those players feature injured stars Kyrie Irving and Carmelo Anthony and players who will likely be in the mix for the 2016 squad: Damian Lillard and DeMar DeRozan.
Two more likely attendees, to that end, expected to be at the Vegas camp but not necessarily on the floor: Damian Lillard and DeMar DeRozan
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 26, 2015
As mentioned Harden could join James and Durant on the sidelines, but the opportunity to train with his peers and possibly cement more of a leadership role are both factors guaranteed to pay dividends for the Houston Rockets 2015-16 season.
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