NBA: Portland’s Lillard added to US Olympic candidates
Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard, having a stellar NBA season with career highs in scoring and assists, was named Wednesday to the finalist roster for the US Olympic team.
USA Basketball announced the move, approved by its board of directors, that adds another talented playmaker to a candidates list that already includes reigning NBA Most Valuable Player Stephen Curry and four-time NBA MVP LeBron James.
Lillard, in his fourth NBA campaign, is averaging 24.2 points, sixth in the NBA, and 7.3 assists, seventh in the league, as well as 4.4 rebounds a contest. He’s connecting on 41.8 percent of shots from the floor, 36.2 from 3-point range and 86.5 percent from the free throw line.
“I recently received a call from Damian, and during our conversation he expressed his desire to be considered for the US Olympic Team,” said US national team managing director Jerry Colangelo.
US Olympic coach Mike Krzyzewski was fine with the move, Lillard having been a finalist for the Basketball World Cup squad two years ago.
“Both Mike and I feel like Damian is playing at a very high level and that he should be added to our list of Olympic finalists,” Colangelo said.
The two-time defending Olympic champions will try to add to their golden haul next August in Rio de Janeiro. Australia, China, Spain, Lithuania, Nigeria, Argentina, Venezuela and Brazil plus three winners of qualifying events in July will try to dethrone the NBA superstar squad.
Also among 30 previously announced finalists are New York’s Carmelo Anthony, San Antonio’s LaMarcus Aldridge, Chicago’s Jimmy Butler, Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love and Houston’s James Harden.
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