Colangelo was originally expecting the holdovers from the 2008 Olympic team to return for the World Championship two years later, but a number of the league's stars were burned out and chose not to play.
“It actually was a blessing,” Colangelo said.
The selection committee started over, choosing a whole new set of players for the World Championship. Instead of Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, the World Championship team was led by Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook. They won gold again, and four of the players from the World Championship team (Durant, Westbrook, Kevin Love and Tyson Chandler) were Olympians last summer.
Now Colangelo is predicting about six players from the 2014 World Cup team will play in the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.
“As I think about it, to keep this system going and for the young players to aspire to be on that national team in the Olympics, you need to have half a roster turn over each time,” he said. “This is going to be primarily from the group we had last summer from the Select team and some additions. We're still up in the air exactly who, but it's all about getting people prepared and ready and moving up the ladder.”
A few obvious additions would be Anthony Davis, who played sparingly on the Olympic team last summer, and rookie Damian Lillard. It remains to be seen if Tristan Thompson or Dion Waiters will receive invitations to Vegas this summer, although both would have to be considered long shots to make the final World Cup roster.
Colangelo was quick to point out how the success of the players involved in the World Championship team translated in their next NBA season. Rose won the Most Valuable Player coming off the World Championship, Chandler had the second-best season of his career and won an NBA championship, Love set a career high in scoring and led the league in rebounding and Durant won his second consecutive scoring title.
Whether or not Irving follows with similar success remains to be seen, but Colangelo is anxious to see what he does in the coming years.
“Kyrie is special,” he said. “He's put himself in a little bit of a different class already.”
Distributed by MCT Information Services