First, be sure to check out this great piece on Brandon from Kevin Pelton who I have dubbed "KP2" and who will only be referrred to as KP2 from here on out.
Brandon spoke at practice today for more than 20 minutes before preparing for an appearance on PTI this afternoon. I've transcribe his comments below. Here are a few practice notes...
- KP1 was at practice today and left the court gesturing at the reporters that were surrounding Brandon, "Why would they want to talk to him?" he joked. It's fun to imagine being Kevin Pritchard on a day like today: how good does it feel to see Brandon Roy, your guy, do something like what he did last night? That's kind of a crazy thought experiment.
- We got to see about 5 minutes of the team working on team defense in late-game situations. Coach Dean was emphasizing staying out on shooters rather than collapsing on drivers, denying wing shooters the pass from the point guard at the top, and always getting a hand in a shooter's face without fouling. At one point Channing banked in a 3. A lot of focus from both Nate and Dean about always knowing the situation and playing smart down the stretch on D.
- After practice, Greg was working on his defensive rotation as the ball moved around the perimeter, covering ground through the key from left to right and right to left as the ball was passed back and forth. Not sure if that means we will see more zone when he is on the floor or if this was more for conditoning/positioning. But Greg was really moving from side to side -- his speed is starting to come back.
- Travis came over during Brandon's long talk with the media and jokingly yelled out, "long-winded!" Funny stuff.
- For once, Nate wasn't mobbed immediately after practice. Brandon was the target (of course).
- KP and Jerryd sat together on a bench after practice. Not unlike this scene but without the arm action.
What are you going to do with the game ball?
My parents. They want it. I'll probably frame it up and give it to them.
Has it hit you? Did it hit you this morning?
When I woke up this morning, I woke up kind of early and it was hard to go back to sleep, because it was on my mind, it's a lot of points. It was a fun game to play and a fun game to watch like you said, I don't know if it's hit me, I'm still kind of on cloud nine about it, it was a fun game.
Have you ever played in a more fun game?
I played some fun games but that probably goes to the top of the list. Just because of scoring and a number of things. Blake played incredible last night. The way he outplayed Steve Nash last night. And Travis came in and the confidence he played with, that's the biggest thing I'm excited about. In games like Boston where we don't play well, we don't have that confidence, but last night we had that confidence, everybody did. Look at LaMarcus he was 9 for 12, everybody was aggressive and determined, that's the thing I'm so excited about, we were having fun out there, taking our shots.
Did it feel good to finally beat Phoenix?
We beat them. That's the last team on my list of teams to defeat in the NBA. To get 52 is pretty cool.
You haven't beaten Indiana either.
J. Jack says he's coming after you.
JJack is the BRoy Stopper. [laughs] Jack knows some of my moves so I'm going to have to change it up. OK, one more team left. Shaq, Amar'e Stoudemire, Steve Nash, Grant Hill, those dudes I've looked up to my whole life. To do it against them does make it pretty special.
Have you watched the tape?
Nah, I got home... I mean I didn't know I was going to score 52 so I didn't think to Tivo it or nothin. So I got home and everybody called to say it was a great game. I saw some highlights when we watched film today, I haven't had a chance to watch it. I'm still all up here right now. I'll probably sit back and watch it a little bit tomorrow.
Is it a mental adjustment for you to be so aggressive and take on so much?
It's mental but I went through that stretch in Toronto where they were guarding me different. So, I said, alright, I seen this my first two years, so where do I adapt? So I thought, 'I need to be more aggressive.' It wasn't like we were losing because I wasn't being aggressive but I think I needed to be more aggressive to continue to try to make plays. With that came more confidence. From Orlando to the next game in Utah, I could see my confidence growing offensively. It is different. I've never been this big scorer. I think with those two losses with the buzzer beaters, besides that we would have won 4 out of 5 games. That's what coach told me, that's what the guys told me, don't think ‘because you're scoring 30 that's why we are losing.' That's not the reason. With them saying that, there was a chance maybe I shouldn't take so many shots, but you know, I think, the way I scored 52 it wasn't like I was doing it out of the flow of the game, it wasn't like you were aiming 52.
Are you stepping up because LaMarcus and Greg aren't quite ready?
I'm not saying that they aren't ready but I did say that I got to do more. I didn't think I would average as many points because we have Greg and LaMarcus and I think my mindset, even though coach is like ‘you've got to be an all star, keep being aggressive' but I think I relaxed a little bit because we have a good team and I was looking for more assists, but as the season has progressed a little bit I think maybe I do need to be a little bit more aggressive. LaMarcus as he continues to develop as Greg continues to develop I think maybe the scoring will come down but right now I think this is a stretch where I need to be aggressive to help lead this team. That's not to say that those guys aren't ready but I think right now it's what this team needs. I always have tried to do what this team needs. We need a scorer, we need somebody that can get his shot. Miss or make, I'm putting it out there on the line right now.
The transformation seems so quick. Was there something that caused it?
Nah, I think it was gradual. Man, I was thinking, ‘I don't think I'd scored 30 yet.' I was thinking I'm probably the only person averaging 20 who ain't scored 30. Then it was like boom out of nowhere. The Orlando game. It just seemed like it was coming easier. I'm not saying 52 came easier but to score more and being more aggressive is becoming easier and more natural for me. Earlier in this season I was like, ‘I'm going to try to be aggressive in the first quarter.' And it wasn't happening but I was trying to do it. You could see me slowly getting better in the first half of games. Last year you would see me scoring 6 points in the first half and get the bulk of my points in the second half. Now it's like I constantly kept trying to do it, games where I was trying to score in the first half and I couldn't do it, but I didn't let up. Now I'm getting 15 or 20 points in the first half of games where I'm constantly putting pressure on the defense.
In the last couple of games, have you noticed yourself shooting in places where you used to pass?
It's kind of double jeopardy. There were time where I made that pass and coach would be like ‘you should have shot that one.' And I was like ‘Are you sure? I thought he was kind of open.' But now it's like ‘I'm taking that shot... but maybe that guy is kind of open.' It's kind of one of those things - win or lose, lose or win. I'm trying to make the right play right now. Honestly, I'm not over-thinking anymore, I'm not over-analyzing anymore. I came in at halftime, ‘hey, Shavlik, am I being too aggressive?' and he's like "NO! Be MORE aggressive.' It's hard because I'm playing. But when your teammate on the sidelines is like, ‘no, no, be more aggressive.' I asked Monty last year in Denver when I took 27 shots, am I being too aggressive?
Are you worried about being too selfish?
Yeah, I'm asking myself ‘am I being too selfish taking these shots?' I'm always kind of conscious of that. I'm the type of teammate if I see a guy being selfish I don't want to call them on it but I want to make sure we have that open line of communication where I can be like, ‘look, maybe you missed a guy.' I want those guys to feel that way about me too. I'm open to that type of criticism...
Has anyone ever called you on that?
No. they tell me shoot more. I could miss two shots in a row and they say ‘one four B, go to work."
Have your teammates ever called you on anything?
Nah.... That's our next step is I've seen KG and Ray Allen arguing, I think that's our next step. Maybe Greg says, ‘Brandon, you didn't do something on the down screen. And I'm like, ‘My bad, you're right, I got lazy.' That's our next step, when we can get at each other on that level.
Has this streak opened your eyes to you being a D Wade or Kobe type scorer?
It has a little bit but I don't know, they score a lot of points.
52 points is a lot of points.
But they AVERAGE 28, I mean I don't know. I'm in this 20 area and he's in this 28 area. What's the difference? A lot is free throws and easy baskets they get. But on the free throws, the hardest part when I defend Kobe, D Wade and LeBron is that I can't touch them. They are free to do whatever move they want. Now I'm establishing it where they can't touch me anymore. And that's the hardest part to guard me, you can't body me and strong arm me. That's my only thing I complain about to the refs. I'm not complaining that you give me calls, I'm just asking that you ref the same ways I got to guard those guys. I think it's opening up the game for me. Now coming up, I do a move and the dude doesn't want to touch me. And I'm like ‘that's easy!' I'm not there yet but I'm establishing that respect to where I get reffed like those guys.
Are you getting to the line where you haven't been fouled?
Yeah, I have a couple times this year. [laughs] Yeah, oooh, they bailed me out. Not yesterday though, I earned all those. There was a game against Minnesota where I short armed a lay up and they bailed me out for the first time in my career. I'll take it. [laughs] I'm putting constant pressure on the refs to make calls.
Are you just waiting for your teammates to catch up or carry their load and then you'll go back to normal or do you think or are we seeing the "New Brandon Roy"?
I think in ways it's the new Brandon Roy of scoring, I don't know about 52, but I think, yeah, being aggressive is the new Brandon.
Do you have to have more of the swagger?
I have more of the attitude. It's more attitude and it's really not even for me. The hardest thing when you play against Kobe and those guys they nod and talk trash, not to where we're scared but in a way it intimidates teams, and I'm not trying to intimidate teams, but I'm trying to give my teammates confidence. Like Travis made a shot, I was like ‘yeah! He can't guard you!' it's just trying to feed that confidence in guys. It's not necessarily for me but I've learned that I've been able to score in the past. I kind of did it to myself but it didn't help anyone around me. Now it's like, I want guys to know, ‘they can't guard me, they can't guard you,' they should have that attitude. Travis is getting after it. Blake is the same way. The pumping and yelling is letting everyone know that we aren't scared of anybody.
Our next step is playing with that atttiude on the road. Good players like Kobe and LeBron bring that on the road. That's my next step and that's our next step.
How is your body holding up?
Good. I felt great yesterday. I wasn't even going to wear a knee brace but I'll just do it to be on the safe side. I was surprised myself how well I felt. Even in the fourth when i didn't come out, I still felt like I had legs down the stretch.
I felt good. I felt bouncy. Still explosive down the stretch.
Did you see this coming?
It's hard to judge because I still haven't played in the playoffs, that's what really takes it to the next step. I knew i was close to playing at a high level. I just know myself... I kind of get better as I get more comfortable.
Have you done anything differently in the last few games?
I'm just more comfortable. More confident on the floor. I think my confidence level is at an all-time high. Ever in my career. I think I'm so comfortable out there now, I haven't been there before, even when I make big shots, my confidence isn't as high as it is right now. The biggest difference is mentality. More confortable, more confident. Swagger. Attitude.
-- Ben (firstname.lastname@example.org)