Week one of Portland Trail Blazers training camp is in the books. The Blazers will take off Sunday and get back in the gym on Monday morning in preparation for their preseason opener against the Los Angeles Lakers in Ontario, CA., on Wednesday. Let's wrap up the first week all in one place, shall we?
First things first, here are links to this week's Media Day and training camp coverage.
Training Camp: New Media Policy | Paul Allen Seeks President | Paul Allen Transcript | Nicolas Batum On Groin Punch | LaMarcus Aldridge On Future | 3 Blazers Eye Starting Center Job | David Vanterpool Interview | Will Barton Strains Hamstring | Sasha Pavlovic On Trade | Jared Jeffries On Health | Damian Lillard On His Favorite Point Guards | 5 Thoughts On Meyers Leonard | Jared Jeffries' Wit And Wisdom
By all accounts, coach Terry Stotts ran his young squad hard this week, putting them through an above-average amount of conditioning while holding two-a-days. The biggest visible (and audible) change in the gym this season is a loud bell, which gets rung by an assistant coach or staff member any time a player makes 20 or more three-pointers out of 25 during shooting drills.
Access to practices has been strictly limited as always. According to Stotts and his players, camp opened with a primary focus on defense.
"We put our fundamentals in," Stotts said Tuesday. "Defensive emphasis, one on one, close-outs, pick and roll defense, transition defense and tried to work in some shooting."
The third-time head coach was glad to be back in the gym running his own squad again.
"It felt good," he said. "Just like going into a game or going into something you haven't done for awhile, there were a couple of butterflies but it felt good being on the court running a practice. Hadn't done it in awhile. It was good. I enjoyed it."
Even during the defense-heavy practice sessions, Stotts makes a point of incorporating shooting work. Later in the week, Stotts did turn some of his practice time towards implementing offensive fundamentals. One early focus was teaching his young team to be self-reliant on the fly.
"What we're putting in now is a foundation, [so] if I don't call a play or [we're] in the flow of the game, we're into something without having to call a play," he said.
As the week progressed, Stotts did open things up into some 5-on-5 play but he has still yet to officially set lineups, which is expected early next week. The quintets have been mixed-and-matched by Stotts' design.
The doors opened to the media for portions of practice on Saturday. Here are three recaps of what reporters were able to see.
I'm trying to get a job. Got to go corporate.
Yes it is. I'm not trying to throw anybody under the bus, but yes it is.
Damian Lillard on how he approaches the "franchise point guard" moniker
It's a point I want to reach, if they label me that, I want to work myself into that role. If I continue to keep doing what I've been doing, I know I'll be able to be there for them.
Nicolas Batum on whether he would change anything about his free agency soap opera
I wouldn't say any details but if I could do it again, change something, maybe... I won't say any details. If I could do it again, if I would change something, maybe I will.
I'm glad to be back and I know some fans are going to have a bad reaction... I can understand people are mad because I said I wanted to leave. But like I said, when I choose MInnesota, I choose them because I knew [Portland] could match. Either way, I know I'm going to be in a good situation. If I see they don't match, I'll be good in Minnesota. If they do match, I'll be happy anyway here. That's why I choose. I wanted to see if [Portland] would like me also.
So you were testing the Blazers?
LaMarcus Aldridge on how hard the practices have been
I think I ran a marathon here. You lose, you run two up and downs. You come in second place, you run. You run to start practice. A lot of running. It's good for us though. I think I weighed in at like 249 [Tuesday]. That's my lowest in two years. I was 258 [on Media Day]. I have to eat more [and] I've been eating a lot... I can run anywhere now, it's crazy. Any time we do anything, it's running. That's good for us... I might go run [the Portland Marathon this weekend].
Luke Babbitt on his offseason regimen
I did two camps in Vegas [Summer League and Tim Grgurich's camp]. Pretty laid back. Wasn't a lockout, no stress with that. It's crazy you guys know all about [Grgurich's camp]. I thought that camp was secret. After that I went home to Cincinnati, where my parents live, to work out. Did some heavy weights, tried to improve my body, tried to get right physically. That was through August. End of August, came here. I gained like 12 pounds. [I'm up to] 233-234. I was about 222 at the end of last year.
Damian Lillard on achieving his NBA dream
Every morning I wake up, I think to myself, 'Man, I'm in the NBA. I go to practice, that's all I have to do.' I appreciate it more. When I get out here, It's a lot of fun for me.
LaMarcus Aldridge on his first impressions of Meyers Leonard
He has a lot to learn about being a big in the NBA. The defensive three [second rule], rotating early, how to show [on screens], but he's really, really good and he's willing to learn.
Wesley Matthews on why he's on board with Stotts' early emphasis on defense
Coaches, teams and schemes, you can come up with anything you want as far as defense. If we don't buckle down and do it, it's not going to matter. You can spend 23 of 24 hours in a day, if we don't buy in and we don't do it, then it's not going to work. I can tell we're buying in right now. You've got to make defense fun. It's got to be fun to stop somebody. It's got to be fun to see the frustration on another team's face if they can't get off a good shot.
Damian Lillard on the importance of defense
It's the end of my game that I need to improve on. People say, 'He's a scoring point guard. Is he going to pass the ball and get guys involved?' And they never talk about the defensive end. That's the end of the floor where I'm going to prove myself. In practice, right now, training camp, I think it's important for me to get up and challenge people and for people to challenge me. I like it, it's going to be a challenge every time. You get tired, that's one of those things that's hard. I want to be a good defender and hopefully I turn into one.
Nolan Smith on his approach this season
My mindset is attack, attack at all costs. Defensively, offensively, be who I am. I think this summer that's all I do. Find myself, who I am as a player. That's somebody who is aggressive and goes out there looking to make winning plays.
They've basically told me that they can use me in many areas, especially with Elliot [Williams] going down. Be prepared for anything. Be prepared to play off the ball or on the ball.
[Last year, I was] just thinking too much. Getting on the court, second-guessing if I was supposed to attack here, pass here, shoot there. You can't do that. I didn't do that at Duke my senior and junior years, I just played basketball. I've been doing this my whole life.
Adam Morrison on being back in Portland after working out for the team years ago during the pre-Draft process
I was looking at the roster thing and I see '92, '91, '90, '89. Man... Working out here and then coming back here as a training camp invite, it's kind of a 180, full circle. I'm thankful the Blazers gave me a chance.
[If I'm cut] maybe I'd get another chance but if it doesn't work out here I'd like to move on to coaching or start doing something else. Europe's OK, but it would have to be Real Madrid, Barcelona, Maccabi Tel Aviv, a team like that where it would be hard to turn down. Anything else, it just wasn't for me. The people were great, whatever, but it just wasn't for me.
Luke Babbitt on how he will squeeze out some playing time on this roster
I don't know about playing time or role but I know that you always need shooting. We don't have a ton of shooters on the team so you need guys that space it for LaMarcus, who needs space to operate. That's been a problem in the past. If I shoot well that will be a good asset to have next to him.
There's a lot of competition for spots. With vets, you kind of know what's going on. You know guys are kind of going through the motions because they've been in the league for so long. When we had Gerald [Wallace], Marcus [Camby], Andre [Miller] and all that it was laid back, and now it's kind of intense.
I have an expectation for myself and how I'm going to be playing. That expectation is to come in and shoot and do what's asked of me. My approach doesn't change just because of role or my experience level on the team. My expectations are my own. I'm going to come in and do what I've always done.
Damian Lillard on how he spent August
My daily routine was to get up. I had a basketball workout for an hour and a half. That was a lot of running, staying in shape, keeping my game tight. From there, I would lift, go home, rest, come back and do some conditioning stuff, get some shots up. That was like four days a week so I wouldn't come back here tired and worn down. That's what I did to prepare myself.
Joel Freeland on his motivation for making the NBA jump
Every basketball player's dream is to play in the NBA. My dream is no different.
LaMarcus Aldridge on what the team's offense looks like after a few days
[Stotts] has organized chaos a little bit. Go fast but guys have lanes, guys have positions to run to. That's good.
Terry Stotts on whether "organized chaos" is indeed his goal offensively
I think [Aldridge] made that one up. At times it can look that way. It's organized, right now it's a little chaotic, but it won't be that way.
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter