batum's last entry on his blog

Hi everyone, here comes my own transation of his comment. The original, in french, can be found here.
Forgive me (and correct me if possible) for any english mistake, i am a bit rusty.

I cowardly blocked a blake griffin's shot

Hi Everyone. Yesterday we played against the Clippers. The 1st half has been tough. Both teams were playing a back-to-back, but they had an easier game against the T.Wolves. During the last quarter, B. Davis, B. Griffin could rest while on the other end we played an overtime.. So they had an edge at the beginning of the game. We had no energy and our team trailed by 10 (14-4) early in the game. Then we told ourselves "c'mon, we are not gonna leave the Clippers demolish us, no?". Ok, wait, they are strong, they had just beaten the Lakers and they had beaten the Heat the week before. So that is a team you do not undervalue. And we did not pay that much attention in the beginning, yet they had  registered 11 wins on their last 15 games.

Wesley and Lamarcus have been strong. LA took over the game because his match-up was Griffin and because of the incoming ASG. And Lamarcus dominated Griffin. Griffin scored significantly but skill wise, he was surpassed by Alridge. And i am not the only one saying it - some gonna say i am lobbying for my teammate -, that is what Kevin McHale and Charles Barkley said as well. I am just repeating it myself. But i do agree, and not only because he is my teammate : between Griffin, Love and Alridge, Lamarcus is the one who should go to the ASG. Considering how he has been carrying us... The Clippers have arguably a strong starting 5 while we have a depleted roster right now. And Alridge saved the day more than once. As for the Wolves, their record is quite bad.  Alridge carries us, the team is 24-20 and he is averaging 28ppg, 11 rbg since Roy's injury. For me that is All Star caliber !
Back to the game, both wesley and Lamarcus led the way. Rudy had a good game too. For my part, i was exhausted in the beginning. During the 1st quarter, i was struggling. Then it went better. But statistic wise i did not have a good game, so i tried to bring in other areas. I was matching with Gomes for most of the game, and i was on help defense a lot as well, on Griffin most notably. Well, speaking of the statistics (10pts/4rb), that was the bare minimum that i had to do today. Tiredness definitely afftected my game. The day off gonna help everyone, because we all are a little washed out. We keep on playing, we had road games recently, then we are back to play at home, on a back-to-back right now. Furthermore, Camby just had surgery and he is out for 3 weeks. That is what Brandon had last year before the Play-Off. On the other hand, it should allow Jo (przy) to get back on track, back in rythm. Coming back  one year after having been injured is not really easy. And the game he had against Sacramento, he has been huge for us. Against the Clippers, he bothered Jordan while Jordan has been quite good recently.
By the way, i am saying that Lamarcus should be All Star instead of Griffin, but Griffin is one of my favorite player to watch. And playing him is quite impressive. We played him three times. The very 1st game of his nba career, that was against us. We did not know much of him at first, we were thinking he would be strong, yet, since he had not played for a year, on the other hand... Well, he dunked 3  or 4 times on us, scored some alley oops, some tip in. During the time out we wondered "eh, who the hell is that guy?". We knew he could jump, but he had been injured, maybe he had lost part of his athlecisim. Pff, no way, he seems to have even more athleticism. Camby, for having played for the Clippers, he knew him a bit more than the rest of the team, but when he saw him play, he said "who the hell is that guy?". At that time we told ourselves "this guy, he is ridiculous".

But eh, i blocked his shot yesterday ! Ok, that block was... In fact on a switch, i had to defend him and he wanted to post me up but he lost his balance. I had my arms up and he shoots in my hands :) Still, for me, this is a legit block. A serbian fashion coward block, but that is a block. Since i already blocked players like Lebron, Wade, Kobe or Carter, i am allowed to get a cheap block on Griffin. And anyway, he dunked on me during that game. I did not make exception to the rule. I know that i had said that i would have moved away if i had been at Gallinari’s place, but on the  play i had to go for it, that was my fault. In fact, they were playing in transition and i was watching Gordon, then that guy runs from me. I look behind me and he receives the ball, so i play the guy that jumps to block the shot, totally hopeless, like ‘eh, i did try’. He dunks it and i jump aside, by reflex, to tell i did jump.

But anyway, he is really impressive. His explosiveness is crazy. Yet you could think he is not a legit player, because he can only jumps, etc. But he does have some moves. They may not look very natural, but he is very comfortable with those moves. And if he works his smoothness, he can only get better ! Then he can add some new moves. Sometimes, he sets his dribble with his shoulder going forward and he attacks the rim to get the basket or a shooting foul. He also has that move, with the dribble  between the legs then the reverse shot. And he executes those  quite well. If he adds a good jump shot, if Tim Duncan becomes his coach, it is gonna get ugly, i shall even stop…
Around him, i already said this as the season was beginning, the Clippers, they could become a pretty decent team. Right now, i heard they could be willing to trade Kaman. They could really get some decent counterparts if that is the case. They have good prospects for the future like Bledsoe and Aminu who are playing well. There is definitely something to do. Some are saying they should make an offer for Melo, but i don’t think it would work. They need a guy like Iguodala or Tayshaun Prince. You add prince to their team, it becomes a pretty decent team : Baron Davis, who is starting to change his game, no longer a selfish player, Gordon as the scorer, Tayshaun Prince, aside, a vet who won a ring already, who defends well and who is really tall, then Griffin and Jordan… Not bad at all. Really not bad at all !

Before that game against the Clippers, we played Sacramento, and it went well for me. That is the good thing with this team : one day, that can be me, and wesley won’t frown about it, he will tell me «  keep shooting, i will take care of Tyreke Evans » or «  i am gonna pass you the ball », something like that. Against the Clippers, that was reversed, i knew it was not for me. That is why i like guys like Wesley or Rudy. When they know that they are in a day off, they don’t force their shoot. So against Sactown, Wes’, he realized that it was not going in for him, while it was going well for me.

So, i scored 24 points as i was feeling well. And there is something i am beginning to handle correctly, that is the catch and shoot off screen  plays. I work this a lot, the midrange jumper. If i was to master it, for a forward of my size it could become a very, very good asset. We had started to work on that with Monty Williams, because he was a forward too, and we were talking a lot about Granger, Durant, Carmelo, who all have a very good midrange game. 80% of the scoring from the forwards, that is in the paint and from the 3 pointers. A forward that gets a good midrange game, that is really handy. In the moden ball game, you need one. Especially in the NBA where the 3 point line is far from the basket and spreads the game.

The first two years, offensively, i was looked as a jump shooter, since i was only able to do that anyway. I was a spot up  3 point shooter. Now, i have less freedom, less open shots, so it is really interesting if i can develop that 13/16 feet off-screen jumper . And if it becomes a weapon, the defenser gonna follow me despite the screen, so i will be able to curl. So it improves my arsenal. That is why i work it a lot during the trainings, i make series during which i tell me «  come on, you got to score 50 in a row » .  I set myself high goals. And i already scored 50, 10 in a row on various spots, at 16ish feet (you shoots at a spot, and as soon as you do it 10 times, you pass to another one). Ok, i am talking about quiet series, without much intensity, but i already did some series of 50/50. Generally, i tried to limit myself to 15 attempts in order to score the 10 shots, never more. The goal is yet to limit attempts to 13.
That is not the only thing i am working on, of course. I also try to improve my post game, backdoor cuts, the flashes, the one on one. I try to deepen my offensive tools. All this work, i do it with Bill Bayno, one of our assistant, a former coach from ULNV. He is really athletic, he is still defending on us during the one on one practice.  He has done some foam rubber sleeves that he puts on his arms, and then we play one on one during which he shakes us like crazy with those. We work like this on our post game to improve the finishing, using that impact. They are in foam rubber, so it does not hurt, but you still need to control the impact. We do a lot of stuff like this. Thus, he is the one who trained Alridge last summer, and it worked out well.

I also try to recover my 3 pointer which seemed almost lost. About the 3 pointer, i am doing series. We have a former assistant coach from Houston,  when they had won the title, who stoped coaching and is now focusing on the shooting. He is a shooting coach. Our work with him consists in making - once in a week - series of 10 3 points shots. We have 5 spots : the corners, the wing and the top of the key. We shoot 50 in the beginning, 10 for each spot. Among the 10, you shoot 5 set shots, 3 after making two steps forward then move back catch and shoot, and 2 where you catch the ball, fake, dribble on the left then dribble on the right. So that is 10 shots attempt. Then you count how many you scored. Laters,  we work on shooting after a race. 10 where we are at the left wing, we run to the left corner then shoot ; 10 when we start running from the top of the key then we run to the left wing to shoot ; 10 where we start from the middle and run to the middle spot to shoot ; 10 twice for the the right side following the 1st series pattern. That makes it 50 after a race. And 100 shots.

The record is held by rudy with 82 on 100. For the last 3 spots, he made 29 on 30 attempts. I personnally did 80. I have done 48 on 50 for the first serie. The two i am missing are the two ones after the dribble in the axis, otherwise i have done 4 series of 10 that time. That practice, all the backcourt players have to do it. For my part, i do it once a week, but the rookies almost have to do it on a daily basis. Wesley’s record is 77. The last one is Patrick Mills with 68. The frontcourt players do it with the 2 jumpers. The one who holds the record is Sean Marks with 90. And i am speaking of midrange 2 jumpers !

That is the kind of routine i try to have on every angle of my game. And it pays off. Against Sacramento, i scored quite a few times on off-screen plays. I had done it too against Miami, against New-Jersey.
I hope it will keep on going like this for next games ! Nonetheless, what is refreshing is that the next games will be played at home. No road trip before february. AT LAST, i will stay a bit at home. Right now, i was sick of always being in the plane.But then, the next one is bound to be a tough one… We play, i think it will be like Denver, Cleveland, Indiana, then we are back at home to play Chicago, then we are back on the road to play Toronto, Detroit and Minnesota i guess. Hopefully, after we have the All Star Break. I will go there because i do like it, even if, now,  i understand those who are saying they don’t want to go. You have 5 days off, you are at the point where you want to do everything, except basketball.  Before i did not understand why guys like Rasheed Wallace and Ray Allen were upset to be All Star. They had done it 5 or 6 times, they were tired because of the season, now i understand them much better. But i will go there  because i want to see the contests and the big game.

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