Damian Lillard added to finalist pool for 2016 Olympic team

Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard has been added to USA Basketball’s pool of finalists for the 2016 Olympics.
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Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard has been added to the USA men’s national team’s pool of finalists for the 2016 Olympics, USA Basketball announced.

Lillard, averaging career-highs of 24.2 points and 7.3 assists per game, was a finalist for the gold medal-winning World Cup team in 2014 but was one of the final roster cuts prior to the tournament in favor of Andre Drummond. He has expressed his frustrations in the past over not making the team, but recently put in a call to managing director Jerry Colangelo to make his case.

“I recently received a call from Damian, and during our conversation he expressed his desire to be considered for the U.S. Olympic Team and to remain involved with the USA National Team in the future as well,” said Colangelo. "Both Mike (Krzyzewski) and I feel like Damian is playing at a very high level and that he should be added to our list of Olympic finalists. Damian has been a member of the USA National Team since 2014, and he participated in National Team training camps in 2013 and 2014, so he does have equity in USA Basketball, which is always important to me.”

The 2016 Summer Games take place in Rio de Janeiro Aug. 5–21. Lillard will face a tough task making the roster based solely on the amount of talent surrounding him in the backcourt, with Stephen Curry and Russell Westbrook likely locks, Chris Paul also likely to make the team, and John Wall, Klay Thompson, Kyrie Irving and Jimmy Butler among the other guards available.

The rest of the pool is as follows:

LaMarcus Aldridge (San Antonio Spurs); Carmelo Anthony (New York Knicks); Harrison Barnes (Golden State Warriors); Bradley Beal (Washington Wizards); Butler (Chicago Bulls); Mike Conley (Memphis Grizzlies); DeMarcus Cousins (Sacramento Kings); Curry (Golden State Warriors); Anthony Davis (New Orleans Pelicans); DeMar DeRozan (Toronto Raptors);Andre Drummond (Detroit Pistons); Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder); Kenneth Faried(Denver Nuggets); Rudy Gay (Sacramento Kings); Paul George (Indiana Pacers); Draymond Green (Golden State Warriors); Blake Griffin (Los Angeles Clippers); James Harden (Houston Rockets); Gordon Hayward (Utah Jazz); Dwight Howard (Houston Rockets); Andre Iguodala(Golden State Warriors);  Irving (Cleveland Cavaliers); LeBron James (Cleveland Cavaliers);DeAndre Jordan (Los Angeles Clippers); Kawhi Leonard (San Antonio Spurs); Kevin Love (Cleveland Cavaliers); Paul (Los Angeles Clippers);  Thompson (Golden State Warriors); Wall (Washington Wizards); and Westbrook (Oklahoma City Thunder).

Jeremy Woo