Ever since Paul George suffered a gruesome leg injury in the USA Basketball Showcase, there have been questions as to whether or not players participating on Team USA should’ve withdrawn to preserve their health or, if they decided to keep playing on Team USA, if they would experience more fatigue this upcoming NBA season.
Kevin Durant withdrew after George’s injury, not specifically because of that, but because he wanted to rest after playing non-stop basketball for several years. We’ll see if this pays off for Durant, but should Curry and Thompson have done the same by sitting out Team USA activities this summer?
Both of these players are key parts to not just the Warriors’ everyday rotation but also to the future of this franchise. Their health is of the utmost importance to the Warriors, especially for Curry given his history of ankle problems.
However, representing one’s country is one of the highest honors, and it’s one that both Curry and Thompson didn’t want to pass on and rightfully so. Warriors’ management or ownership could’ve told Curry and Thompson to not play on Team USA, but they chose to let the players decide and they understood both players’ desire to represent their country in this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
“I had some doubts when I left Vegas as to the risk that you take when you play USA Basketball, but at the end of the day, we made a commitment to play, and any time we play basketball, that’s a risk we take,” Curry said.
“We’re committed. For now we’re going go out there and win the gold for Paul and do our thing over in Spain, but I haven’t really thought about two years from now because I guess everybody has to make a decision based on where they are when that time comes.”
— Stephen Curry (@StephenCurry30) August 23, 2014
Thompson wasn’t a near lock to make the final Team USA roster like Curry was, but he earned his way onto the team and became a key component to Team USA’s success because of his perimeter shooting and his versatility and excellence on defense. Thompson wrote in his one of his most recent diary entries on SFGate.com about how he was extremely appreciative to make the final roster and get the chance to play for his country:
It’s funny to think it’s been a month since we reported to Las Vegas and started competing every day. It’s been a lot of fun, and I’m thankful for the experience of being around players with this much talent, because I’ve gotten a lot better.
What an amazing opportunity to wear USA across my chest against some of the best in the world! So thankful for this opportunity — klay thompson (@KlayThompson) August 1, 2014
Both Curry and Thompson were clearly extremely proud to play on Team USA, but will this experience benefit them this upcoming season? Or will they suffer from an increased level of fatigue due to their time with Team USA?
No one can say for sure, but Curry and Thompson’s Team USA experience will almost certainly benefit them this upcoming season.
In Curry’s case, he was one of the primary leaders on Team USA, as he was the second-oldest player on the final roster. The leadership skills and the confidence he gained as a leader will certainly carry over to this upcoming Warriors season, and this will definitely benefit this Warriors team, as they hope to make a deep postseason run.
Curry will also gain more on-the-court chemistry with Thompson. Although they didn’t play a significant amount of minutes together on Team USA, they became closer off the court during this experience, which can only benefit them going forward. Thompson alluded to this in the same diary entry on SFGate.com from earlier:
This is going to be good for the Warriors’ backcourt. Our families are coming out here, and we have a lot of down time. If you hang out on a beach with someone or play 36 holes with someone, you learn a lot about them. It’s going to be a lot of fun.
Both Curry and Thompson also got the opportunity to compete against top-notch international and NBA talent over the summer, which not many other NBA players can boast. Thompson wrote about this and why he thinks playing for Team USA won’t tire him out during this upcoming season in an interview with Marcus Thompson of the Bay Area News Group:
“I’m 24. I’m young. I shouldn’t be tired,” Thompson said. “I’m not playing 40 minutes. I’m playing 15 minutes, 20 minutes. It’s even better than working out at home. I would never get this competition working at home. And it’s a different style of basketball so I’ll be learning somethings i can add to my game. I’ll be in great shape when I come into camp and be ready to go.”
There’s a slim possibility that Curry and Thompson’s time with Team USA this summer could potentially make them suffer from more fatigue this upcoming season, but this is just a possibility, not a guarantee. The benefits of playing with Team USA outweigh the costs, and both Curry and Thompson will greatly benefit this upcoming season from their Team USA experience this summer.