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Rookie Transition: Indiana Pacers
Posted By Dan Barto On July 14, 2012 @ 12:00 pm In All,Main Page,NBA | No Comments
After hibernating for a solid 23 months, the Orlando Summer League bounced back with a new facility and new terms for the young hopeful players. The overall supply of players has never been higher and the room for error and opportunity has never been lower. The joys of success are short lived and the emotions of not playing or playing well could be seen not only on the faces of the players, but on the faces of their agents and financial advisors.
The new collective bargaining agreement has created a speed-dating atmosphere for second-round picks, NBA D-League sensations and European homesick patriots. Nothing is guaranteed, but it appears the sales pitches, promises and expectations have yet to adjust to the veteran friendly free agent spots. Normal conversation words like talent, upside, potential and college-system limitations seem to be replaced by body language, pre-game routine, ability to overcome adversity and adaptability.
I will review the NBA rookies from summer league by team and explain how I think players should layer their training and focus to become the “chosen ones” not the “cast offs” of the 2012 NBA Draft. Let’s start with the Indiana Pacers’ rookies:
In college, post players are told “be on the mid line”, “don’t foul” and “quick moves in the post before the guard digs.” However, the NBA is different. The extra space allowed Plumlee to show off his athleticism on numerous weakside blocks and dunks through one-on-one contests. The patience in isolation offensive touches was a pleasant surprise. The Pacers stuck to their offseason goal of acquiring character, upside and duel opportunity.
Plumlee will need to understand that he will be learning from some of the best developers of talent in the NBA and be the greatest locker room rookie ever. Off the court, he should babysit, rebound for vets’ kids, wash cars and offer to help the janitors clean the arena on a daily basis. On the court, he should spend two hours per day watching David West’s no-dribble and one-dribble face up game in the mid post and elbow areas. The extension and consistency of his guide hand must improve. His body control, ranges of power throughout his skill motion and single leg stability for deep post defense must improve.
Two good years in this blessing of a learning opportunity could lead to minutes on a playoff team, actual negotiated extensions and a 12-year career.
Volume scorers are always fun to watch in summer league. Johnson’s close relationship with Denver Nuggets guard Julyan Stone gave me an inside track of what to expect long term. Grinder, bucket getter, streaky shooter, competitor, student of the game were all words Stone used to describe the player he often trained with in California. College teams double- and triple-teamed him throughout his senior year, which makes him instinctually and emotionally tied to shot hunting.
The NBA game is not shot hunting for rookie and though they find themselves taking shots through opposing teams’ defensive designs, the shots and pace are much different. Here is a list of skills Johnson will most likely have to perfect as a backup shooting guard in Indiana:
1.) Standing in the corner for six seconds wide open and then getting the three.
2.) Being looked off five straight possessions and receiving the ball with three seconds on the shot clock.
3.) Making the Dwyane Wade Eurostep in transition to get around the second defender.
4.) Going to the scorer’s table up 20 points and bringing energy and focus for the final two minutes.
5.) Studying the Fort Wayne Mad Ants in case management decides to test him.
Johnson, from all accounts, is ready for the transition of scoring in the NBA however the five areas above are things he may have never endured. Staying ahead of realities will keep him from having to “prove himself” in Summer League 2013.
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