NBA AM: Can Brandon Roy Return to Form?
Brandon Roy’s comeback was one of the biggest surprises of the summer and when the Minnesota Timberwolves begin their season in November, all eyes will be on the former All-Star to see what he can do at this point in his career. Will he return to form and become the go-to scorer that Minnesota has been missing or will his injuries limit him and make him a shell of his former self? Roy believes he can still be an impact player for the Timberwolves and he doesn’t think his knees will hold him back.
“Honestly, right now and all summer long, I’ve been preparing to not have to take a step back with my game,” Roy told NBA TV. “I’ll be honest, some of the lift isn’t what it used to be, but my explosiveness, my explosiveness to get to the basket is good. More than anything, I think I’m a lot smarter of a basketball player. The NBA season is long and my body isn’t what it used to be. Right now I feel great. Me and coach (Rick) Adelman are going to sit down before the season and communicate throughout the year about how I’m feeling and what’s the best way to get the most out of me. I feel great. Right now, there’s nothing holding me back. I can go out there and play as much as I like.”
After announcing his retirement last December, Roy wasn’t sure if he should make a comeback. He felt that he could still contribute on an NBA team, but he wanted to hear that from others before making a decision. He called some of his NBA friends from Seattle such as Jamal Crawford, Isaiah Thomas and Will Conroy and asked them to give him an honest assessment of his game.
“I went in the gym with a couple of friends of mine and I was like, ‘Be honest, how do I look?’ And they said, ‘You would be crazy if you didn’t play basketball again.’ I felt really good but sometimes you need that outside opinion just watching you. It was tough, being out of the game, having to constantly remind yourself that you’re capable of it,” Roy said.
“Now that I’m in Minnesota working out with my teammates, they say, ‘Hey man, you look great, we can’t wait to get out on the court with you,’ it gives me even more confidence. It’s something I’m going to have to continue to build. I’m excited about training camp. I’m going to try to improve there, and then look forward to my first preseason game.”
Last month, the shooting guard played in his first organized game since his retirement when he participated in the Jamal Crawford Pro-Am. Roy was very effective, scoring 32 points against NBA-level competition. Crawford came away very impressed with his friend’s performance.
“He looked really good,” Crawford said. “He moved well and got where he wanted. He looked like B-Roy.”
Roy can’t wait to take the court alongside Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio, two players who he has tremendous respect for and has spent plenty of time watching during his one-year hiatus.
“I’m really excited,” Roy said when asked about the opportunity to play with Love. “He was the first guy to text me when I was meeting with Minnesota. The first thing I asked David Kahn was, ‘How does Love feel that I fit in?’ He was just real excited to have me. He texted to say he would love to have me on the team and he was looking forward to training camp and improving. That made me feel great. Kevin Love had an incredible season last year and capped it off with the Olympic team and all those great players. I just want to come in next year and help them make the next step, which is to get to the playoffs, just so he can get that experience because I think he deserves it.
“I watched as a fan last year, not just all the big stars but especially guys like Ricky Rubio, I was very interested to see how he would perform in the NBA. He was one of those guys who people kind of got down on because his numbers weren’t great overseas, but when he came here, he was just great. The biggest thing that stood out to me is that he’s a winner. He will go out there and score two points but he wants to get 13 or 14 assists, he wants to get his teammates going. Me, sitting at home, of course that is the type of guy you want to play with, he can get you shots. Making this comeback, I’m looking forward to Rubio getting over his knee injury. We want him to take his time and come back when he’s 100 percent ready to get out there, but I’m excited to play with a guy like him. He can create for me. A guy like Love, I can get some pick-and-rolls, he can pop and get some easy shots. There are a lot of good pieces here and I’m excited to be back in the NBA fold.”
Not only will Roy be able to contribute on the court, he’ll also be an excellent addition to Minnesota’s locker room. Throughout the course of his career, he has always been a leader. The Timberwolves are a team that relies on a lot of young players so bringing in an experienced veteran like Roy, who has been to the playoffs and knows what it takes to be successful, can be beneficial.
“My biggest thing is that I try to lead by example,” Roy said. “I try to be one of the first guys in the gym. I try to make sure guys see me in the weight room, see me getting my treatment. When I’m on the court, I just try to perform. I’m not one of those rah rah guys. When I’m playing, I try to do the things to help my team win. When guys see that, they’ll want to be a part of it. Right now, we’ve got a great group of guys. Management has done an unbelievable job of bringing in a lot of guys, good pieces that fit, guys who have been a part of winning. Hopefully just leading by example, pushing guys to get better, wanting to take that next step and understanding that it’s not just going to happen because we have good players, we have to get in and put the work in, starting now, and try to carry it over to training camp.”
Roy’s return will be a storyline worth following during this upcoming season. If he’s feeling as good as he says and his knees aren’t limiting him, the addition of Roy to Minnesota could be one of the biggest acquisitions of the offseason and a move that helps lift the Timberwolves into the playoffs.
The Latest Training Camp Invites: With training camps just around the corner, teams are finalizing their rosters and signing players to non-guaranteed deals. In recent days, a number of players have accepted camp invites, which gives them the opportunity to fight for a roster spot. Here are some of latest signings:
• Brian Cook has accepted a training camp invite from the Washington Wizards. Cook, 31, finished last season on Washington’s roster after being included in the three-team trade with the Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Clippers that landed Nene in Washington. Over the course of his nine year career, Cook has averaged 5.5 points.
• Adam Morrison has accepted a training camp invite from the Portland Trail Blazers. Morrison, 28, spent last season overseas, but participated in the Orlando Summer League and Las Vegas Summer League in an effort to land a roster spot. Morrison was impressive, particularly in Las Vegas where he averaged 20 points and 5 rebounds while shooting 55 percent from the field and 61 percent from beyond the arc.
• Solomon Jones has accepted a training camp invite from the Phoenix Suns. As of now, Jones is the only player on Phoenix’s roster with a non-guaranteed deal. The 28-year-old is hoping to make the roster after stints with the Los Angeles Clippers and New Orleans Hornets last season. Over the course of his six-year career, Jones has averaged 3.1 points and 2.3 rebounds in 268 games.
• Will Conroy, one of Brandon Roy’s best friends, will attend training camp with the Minnesota Timberwolves on a partially guaranteed contract. The 29-year-old has had stints with the Memphis Grizzlies, Los Angeles Clippers and Houston Rockets, but most recently played for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers of the NBA Development League.
• Josh Akognon has accepted a training camp invite from the Dallas Mavericks. Akognon, 26, spent the last several seasons overseas, but he turned heads during the Las Vegas Summer League when he averaged 19.3 points per game off of the bench for the Sacramento Kings. Several other teams expressed interest in Akognon, but he decided to attend Dallas’ camp.
• Alando Tucker may attend training camp with the Milwaukee Bucks. The 28-year-old has been working out for the team this week and could receive a camp invite. Tucker starred at the University of Wisconsin and has played for the Phoenix Suns and Minnesota Timberwolves. After spending some time overseas, Tucker’s latest stint was with the Texas Legends of the NBA Development League.
• The Brooklyn Nets have added three players to their training camp roster: Stephen Dennis, Carleton Scott and James Mays. All three players spent last season overseas and will attend camp on non-guaranteed deals. Dennis and Scott played for the Nets in the Orlando Summer League. Dennis is an intriguing player who has the talent to play in the NBA. If he wasn’t so undersized, he’d likely already be in a team’s rotation because he can score the ball at will.