Craig Mitchelldyer-US PRESSWIRE
Portland Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts discussed the Washington Wizards, his team's defense, Nicolas Batum, Will Barton and Damian Lillard in an interview.
Portland Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts joined Adam Bjaranson and Michael Holton on Tuesday's episode of Blazers Courtside. Video will be available here later.
Here's a partial transcript.
Playing against an 0-12 Wizards team
Our players, we're all aware of what Washington is going through. They've had some tough losses. Certainly we don't want to be the ones to break the streak. Our players are aware of it, we're aware of it. As much as that is a concern for us, what's more of a concern is how we play, how we defend, and how we improve as a team. I really think if we learn from the last few games and get back on track, the win will take care of itself. As a coach, you're really more concerned about your team, individually and collectively, and you go from there. We'll be prepared for the Wizards and we all know what's at stake as well.
Lots of weapons on offense. Defense struggling a bit. What do you want your defensive identity to be?
You're being kind. You're being kind in your description of our defense and I appreciate that... Not to make excuses for our team but we're a young team. You look at some of the younger teams in the league, New Orleans and Cleveland for example, they're very young teams and they're at the bottom of the league in defensive efficiency. That's one of the challenges of a young team, to not only develop a defensive identity but also consistency.
The things we need to do -- our biggest problem defensively has been defending the paint and defending the rim. How teams have been getting there, there's a multitude of reasons. Pick-and-roll, transitions, one-on-one. Our identity as a help team, whether it's our big guys or our perimeter guys, that's the thing that we have to establish. When we develop that, we'll get better individually, but really our identity has to come as a team defensive team.
I've been in the league a long time. When I look at the San Antonio Spurs and the Pat Riley teams. Those teams certainly defended well individually but their identity was as a defensive team. That's where we're going.
Nicolas Batum's struggles
We need Nic to be an offensive presence. Whether that's as a facilitator or as a scorer. I've said this, whether it pertains to our bench or our starters, too many times we define a player's performance by how well he shot the ball. We want Nic to be aggressive. I talked to Nic today about it. We want him to expand his game, not only as a catch-and-shoot player but as a pick-and-roll player, facilitator, post-up. He's had some games where he hasn't scored that well but my main concern with Nic is that he remains aggressive. He's the type of player who can be involved without having plays called for him because the ball will find him. I don't think it's necessarily cause for concern but we need Nic to be a contributor on the offensive end.
Will Barton against the Detroit Pistons
To be honest, Will has been a part of the rotation for the last few games. He's gotten in during the first half of every game. Last game, he played a very good first half, he was aggressive scoring, he showed a variety of things, driving, shooting. We're certainly looking forward to that growth. It's good to see him have a good game, there's going to be some inconsistency along the way with him, but he, along with the other young players, we want to develop him. Because he played well last night, he was able to get into the second half and get a second shot at it. You like to see progress with younger players, whether it's Meyers [Leonard], Victor [Claver] or Joel [Freeland]. Will will continue to get his opportunities.
Veteran leadership on road
We're really fortunate to have some quality veterans, Jared Jeffries and Ronnie Price and LaMarcus [Aldridge] for that matter. We've got good veterans... They not only help them on the court but they help them off the court. Doing the right thing, taking care of their bodies, young guys can do different things on the road, you want them to enjoy themselves and be professional.
Surpised by Damian Lillard's strong play?
Not really. I've gotten to know Damian a little bit over the last couple of months, he really doesn't surprise me. He's such a quality young man, he's a pro already. He wants to be good, he wants to learn from his mistakes, he takes the challenges every night. He struggles shooting the ball last night but he kept playing, trying to do what he could. You like to see that from a young player. I can't say that I'm necessarily surprised but I'm certainly pleased by his approach and demeanor.
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