I hadn't expected it to be this quiet all week, but here we are, quickly approaching the July 4 weekend.
As we await the next wave of free agency updates, here are a few articles on Portland Trail Blazers center Meyers Leonard, who recently hosted a basketball camp in his home state of Illinois. Blazers assistant coach Kim Hughes was also in attendance.
Marcus Jackson of the News-Gazette writes in an extended piece...
But now, with the admirers gone from the Robinson High gym, Leonard isn't being treated like a star.
Wearing gray Nikes, red Trail Blazers game shorts and a white Meyers Leonard camp T-shirt, the two-year NBA veteran is being put through an individual workout by Portland assistant coach Kim Hughes, a native of Freeport in town to help Leonard with his camp. Jump shots from both baselines, both wings and the top of the key. Free throws, jumpers off pick-and-pop and layups off pick-and-roll.
"The things he has to work on is challenging shots more often," Hughes said. "If he just assumes a presence defensively, he's a help defender, he'll get a few more minutes. That's typical of big men in our league, he's got to get minutes to get better. Until he gets more minutes on the floor, he's going to be a little bit behind in terms of progression. But all big guys get better by playing; none of them get better by watching."
"I have to prove myself, be assertive, show the coaches I'm worthy and go to my strengths on the court," Leonard said. "I can shoot the ball, finish around the rim and continue to work on defensive rebounding. As long as I do that, they'll respect that and I'll continue to get more minutes."
Here's a lengthy Q&A conducted by Jordan Conn of the Herald-Review...
It's especially challenging on defense. If you think about it, I played at a small high school, so that experience isn't relative at all. In college, I didn't play much as a freshman, so that's not relative. My sophomore year I got some experience guarding bigger players, but coming in as a rookie ... I just hadn't faced that on a regular basis.
The coaches love my ability to space the court and take the five man away from the basket. I just need to be a little more ready for my shot when I'm open. I also need to continue to work on my post game and defensive rebounding.
I really need to work on my one-on-one defense in the post, and my ball screen defense. Sixty-five percent of NBA offense is pick-and-roll, so that's important.
Otherwise, I have to do what I do well -- beat other bigs down the court and use my athleticism to my advantage.
Leonard, who plans to play at the Las Vegas Summer League next week, has also laid out his summer plans on his website, MakingMeyers.com.
Starting in July, I will spend most of my time in Las Vegas. Similar to my last two summers, I will be playing in Summer League and participating in Gurgurich NBA Basketball Camp. Summer League is tournament for NBA teams to test out potential rosters with a combination of current players, free agents and draft picks. Gurgurich NBA Basketball Camp is a mini training camp that works with nearly 75 players from all different teams. In the morning, we work on drills, defense and shooting. While in the evening, we scrimmage 5-on-5 against each other.
Moving into August, my training will take me to Los Angeles. Spending the majority of my time at the Clippers facility, Los Angeles is home to some of the best NBA players in the off-season. This makes my time in California a key part of my summer because it will give me experience playing against these players 5 days a week.
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter