According to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical, Russell and Randle were invited to be a part of the USA Select Team that will practice against the Olympic team as it prepares for the Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Paola Boivin of AZCentral Sports explained that an invitation to this team “is considered an honor and is used by USA Basketball to analyze talent for future Summer Games.”
A number of players parlayed their experience on the USA Select Team into finalist spots on the actual national team. Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Kyrie Irving and DeMarcus Cousins all fit under that category and have developed into some of the best playmakers in the league.
The 2016 USA Select Team roster has not been made official, but Chris Haynes of Cleveland.com noted the Portland Trail Blazers’ C.J. McCollum was named to the squad (h/t Dan Feldman of Pro Basketball Talk). In addition, the Indiana Pacers’ Myles Turner, per Candace Buckner of the Indianapolis Star, and North Carolina product Brice Johnson, per Marc J. Spears of ESPN, have been invited as well.
McCollum is fresh off an impressive series against the Golden State Warriors when he averaged 21.4 points per game and hit a combined seven threes in the final two contests. He also won the NBA’s Most Improved Player award.
Turner is a promising young big man for the Pacers, but Feldman said Johnson’s inclusion “seems ambitious for a borderline first-round pick.”
The 20-year-old Russell earned the invitation after he averaged 13.2 points, 3.4 rebounds and 3.3 assists in his rookie campaign out of Ohio State. At his best, he is a dynamic ball-handler with the vision to find open teammates and connect from three-point range (35.1 percent).
The 21-year-old Randle played only one game as a rookie in 2014-15 because of injury, but he appeared in 81 contests this season and averaged 11.3 points and 10.2 rebounds per game. He is a double-double threat every time he steps on the floor and will have the chance to improve his post play with reps against the national team frontcourt this summer.
The Lakers are transitioning from the Kobe Bryant era, and Russell and Randle are important pieces to their future. Any additional experience they gather against elite competition during the summer will help them improve their games and further grasp how to handle superstardom at the NBA level as they move toward additional responsibilities next season.