Blake Griffin has decided not to participate with TEAM USA in this summer’s FIBA World Cup. Instead, the All-Star forward will focus on the upcoming season. A season in which the Los Angeles Clippers expect to take the next step and contend for a championship.
I appreciate the invitation to play for Team USA this summer. It is a special opportunity anytime you have a chance to represent your country, and I was honored to be included. However, right now I want to focus and dedicate 100 percent of my energy on improving and preparing for the upcoming season with the Clippers.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise, as other stars in the NBA will not be suiting up in red, white, and blue for coach Mike Krzyzewski. Here are the eleven other big names that aren’t on Team USA in 2014, but are indeed eligible to represent the country in the 2016 Olympics: LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Kawhi Leonard, Andre Iguodala, LeMarcus Aldridge, David Lee, Deron Williams, and Tyson Chandler.
From Griffin’s perspective, there shouldn’t be any question about a player that placed third in MVP voting. From a recent experience last week I can tell you, Griffin has been putting in commercial work, aside from the ESPY Awards, and those days are draining. He’s also been working out with Sasha Vujecic, former NBA player that played overseas and wants to return to the Association.
Drawing from last season, Griffin elevated his game under coach Doc Rivers in one season together. His points, free throw attempts, and free throw percentage all increased. Imagine if Griffin worked on his mid-range shot this offseason. You know Coach Rivers wants him to improve his 72% from the charity stripe, and if he does, it would only boost his 24-point average from eighth in the league into the top-five.
I fully expect Griffin to join the Olympic Team in 2016, along with some of those other players that aren’t participating this summer. These guys want to win championships and the success begins in the offseason. If anyone can show that to Griffin, it’s the coach that won a championship in 2008 and maximized his talent last season. By that time, if the Clippers haven’t won a title by then, Griffin should at least become a more well-rounded player on his way to a Hall of Fame career.