After the regular seaon ended and the players went in for their exit interviews, what were some of the things the players were told to work on for the upcoming season? Unless Lance Uppercut, Ben, or Dave have the inside scoop, I believe we're left to guess. So, in the spirit of the off-season wilderness march, what are the areas each player needs to improve upon for next season?
1. Roy- Outside shooting and free-throws. You demonstrated your ability to penetrate almost at will and the defenders began adapting to your game by backing off and being more physical when the penetration occured. By being more of a perimeter threat your defender is forced to play closer, and that opens up the lane for you to penetrate or pass to Oden or LMA. Now that you're an all-star, you might get the benefit of the doubt from the refs, so being able to hit 85+% on FT is vital.
2. LMA- Back to the basket moves and rebounding. As a finess PF in the NBA you're going to be great, but to be an all-star cliber PF you need to be able to get mean and dirty. Rather than settle for what the defense is willing to give, take what you want. Establish position in the post with your back to the basket, open your stance wide to present a large target for the entry pass, make up to one fake before quickly going for the hoop or passing back out. If the double comes, quickly pass to the open man. Boxing out on the defensive side should be easier next season if we use less zone, but the skill still needs to be honed.
3. Martell- Dribble drives! Dribble drives! Dribble drives! Being able to hit the three is nice. Hey, coming off of screens and hitting is great! But if you can't create offense for yourself, your future in the NBA is going to be like Kyle Korver, JJ Redick, or John Doe Specialist. Find yourself a smaller quicker guard to play against this summer and play 1 on 1. Find a handle and a drive or your value to this team is limited. Oh yea, it's a CONTRACT YEAR!
4. Outlaw- Back to school. Hang out with Monty Williams and get an education in defense and offensive schemes. Some people only learn through constant repetition, and you seem to be that way. You've gotten by with superior athleticism up to this point, but to take the next step you need to develop your BBall IQ.
5. Przybilla- Same as last season. Whatever you did last year, do it again. Learn to take the full amount of energy and put it into about 20 minutes per game.
6. Jack- Defense, Fast-break, Passing, Thick skin, and a short memory. If anyone's on the hot seat it's you. You've got the tools to be a solid PG in the NBA, but you've got confidence issues. You need to work on your lateral quickness to keep the quicker PGs in front of you. Practice running a fast-break. It's supposed to generate the easy and flashy points in a game, and that is a big need for next year. Learn to pass in a more up-tempo style of play. Z-Bo isn't on the team anymore so the days of the "dump in into the post and wait" are gone. Wearing your heart on your sleeve is nice in the movies, but in pro-sports it's a good way to have somebody rip it out. Develop some armor...quickly. See Dave, I'd bet he's got some great Dungeon Master magical armor for sale. He's got a junior PG and likely needs the money. FYI, the truely great players in the league look ahead to the next play, not the last one that they flubbed. Be great on the next one, and nobody will remember the last one. Good luck, man.
7. Blake- Defense. You can never be too good at defense, and you're only OK. You've already got the skills to be a great back-up PG in the NBA for years to come, but to be the starter, you need be better at everything. Improving your defense is the best way to see more burn because you won't be called upon to carry the scoring load. Keep the defense honest, but be the facilitator.
8. Frye- BBall IQ. You've got the gifts to be a great PF/C, but those gifts are wasted because you seem lost at times. Spend some time with Travis learning the plays and the nuances of the game. Train your body how to react.
9. Sergio- Man-up. D-up. Fire-it-up. Show some passion for the game. Don't coast and slide through the season again. Defense has been a weak point since you arrived, and it still is. Rectify it or you'll be back in the Euro-league soon. Last season's shooting numbers were abysmal. Sophmore slump, or lack of fire? There's too much competition in this league for you to sit back and wait for your opportunity. You need to show Nate he'd be a fool NOT to play you. That's the only chance you've got...Mr. Fourth-String PG. Roy, Blake, Jake...then Sergio. The Magic 8-Ball says...?
10. James Jones. Heal. Missing games is bad. Your 3-pt threat opens the floor for everyone else to work. Maybe Jack can pick you up a healing potion while he's shopping at Dave's Dungeon Master Emporium.
11. Oden- Rehab, school, film room. Follow doctor's orders and enjoy summer school. You're probably too much of a celebrity to really have a great time, but you should still get some time away from basketball. You had the opportunity to travel with the team last season and open your eyes to the NBA life, but now you need to learn the NBA profession. The learning curve for a rookie is steep and the best resource available is the film room. It doesn't require you to exert anything but your brain, studying the footwork and post moves of some of the greatest players in NBA history. What do they do? How do they do it? Why did they do that? Question!
Feel free to add to the list with McBob, Rudy, Von Wafer, & Rafe.