“I think it's great,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said of Harden's invite. “It says a lot about James, and his development the last three years. It also says that he's wanting to be coached. He wants us to push him, and we demand that he plays in a certain way and challenges himself every day in practice. But he's improved a lot, like a lot of guys on our team.”
Harden said he “definitely” will seek advice from Durant and Westbrook to improve his chances of making the team.
“They know what to expect, so they can teach me the ropes – especially because they're your teammates – so the comfort level is already there,” Harden said. “All of us together, I think it'll be fun.”
Asked what Harden could bring to Team USA, Westbrook said: “He's going to play the way he plays. He's going to be a great passer. He's a great shooter, especially.”
Harden replaces Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose on the original list of 20 invitees. Rose will be rehabbing from a left knee injury suffered in the first game of the NBA playoffs last week. University of Kentucky freshman Anthony Davis, an early entry into next month's NBA Draft, replaced Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard, who will be recovering from back surgery.
“James has demonstrated a great commitment to his improvement over the last three years,” Presti said in a statement. “He is a team-first player and someone that is driven by team success.”