Courtesy of Erik Horne
Q: What are some of the things you saw from some of the new guys you were able to work with this summer like Domantas Sabonis?
A: “They work extremely hard. It doesn’t matter what’s going on, they come to work every morning. That’s good to start off, because that’s the same thing I did. I watched first what the guys in front of me did, and I guess coming in they watched what we did — the guys that were already here. So they’re just piggybacking on that.”
How do you feel about the role you’re going to have this season? It looks like you’re going to have more responsibility backing up Russell or even working out of three-guard lineups.
“To be honest, I’m just excited. I’m excited all the way around. It doesn’t matter what role I’m in, backup or No. 16 player, I’m gonna be excited no matter what. I’m just ready to get started.”
What’s your comfort in playing in the backcourt with Russell?
“It’s fun to be back there with Russell. A lot of attention is not on you when he’s in the game, so I feel like if we get that lineup going, it’ll be fun.”
Where do you see this team’s strengths?
“Our backcourt and frontcourt is really good. Our backcourt especially. We’ve got Russ back there and we picked up Victor (Oladipo). Our other guys like A-Mo (Anthony Morrow), myself, Semaj (Christon), the guys who haven’t been playing that’ll be ready to step up, I feel like we’ve been working hard this summer. The frontcourt guys, Steven Adams … (Ersan) Ilyasova — he can shoot, he can shoot the ball really good. With our frontcourt and our backcourt, I think we’re really good.”
You mentioned weight training you did while you were in your boot (after foot surgery). How much weight did you put on this summer?
“I put on 10 pounds of straight muscle. I’ve never had this muscle on me before so it feels great to have it, to look in the mirror, check out your biceps sometimes. It’s awesome. When I was in the boot, I was doing straight upper body. That’s what I needed coming into the season; I had to get stronger by any means. Being hurt actually helped me and I’m really proud I got to put on some weight.”
How do you think that extra weight is going to help you this season?
“I think it’s going to help me a lot, being able to fight through screens better, being able to shoot deeper. Not going to hole and getting hit, falling and getting hurt easily. I think it’ll make me very durable, so I’m really appreciative I got to do that this summer.”
Earlier this week, you mentioned the amount of tape you were able to watch with the coaching staff when you were recovering from surgery. What did the coaches point out to you?
“Really decision making, coming off screens, what I see coming down the court, how to instruct the players, what we need to run at this certain time, what plays are good for certain players. Also defensively, how to react coming off ball screens, when we’re doubling. Even watching players from other teams — watching what they did, their strengths and weaknesses — especially in the west. A lot of that this summer is going to help me. I can’t wait to put it to use and see how much it’ll help.”
What did you think was your biggest weakness as a rookie?
“Trying to play too fast. Trying to go out and play instead of taking the game more … like they say ‘the game is 90 percent mental.’ I really didn’t have that in my mind. But this year, this summer, I made it more mental for me and I’m ready to showcase it.”