Morning shootaround — Sept. 18


VIDEO: Recapping the 2015 FIBA EuroBasket semifinals

NEWS OF THE MORNING

Report: NBA looking into wearable GPS devices | Green knew he wanted to be with Warriors | McCollum ready for big opportunity

No. 1: Report: NBA looking into wearable technology for players in games — In recent years, the NBA has been looking for ways to use technology to both measure on-court performance and provide data to teams, fans and players about the game that was once unattainable. From SportVU cameras in every NBA arena to the rise of advanced stats, looking at the game from a deeper angle is more and more a regular occurrence in the league. Grantland.com’s Zach Lowe reports the next step in this trend may be GPS technology players would wear in games to further track their movement and health:

The NBA is putting its own money into the study of wearable GPS devices, with the likely end goal of outfitting players during games, according to several league sources. The league is funding a study, at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, of products from two leading device-makers: Catapult and STATSports.

The league declined comment on the study. Most teams already use the gadgets during practices, and Catapult alone expects to have about 20 NBA team clients by the start of the 2015-16 season. The Fort Wayne Mad Ants wore Catapult monitors during D-League games last season in an obvious trial run for potential use at the parent league.

Weighing less than an ounce, these devices are worn underneath a player’s jersey. They track basic movement data, including distance traveled and running speed, but the real value comes from the health- and fatigue-related information they spit out. The monitors track the power behind a player’s accelerations and decelerations (i.e., cuts), the force-based impact of jumping and landing, and other data points. Team sports science experts scour the data for any indication a player might be on the verge of injury — or already suffering from one that hasn’t manifested itself in any obvious way.

The devices can show, for instance, that a player gets more oomph pushing off his left leg than his right — evidence of a possible leg injury. They will show when players can’t produce the same level of power, acceleration, and height on cuts and jumps. Those are typical signs of fatigue, but there is near-total consensus among medical experts that fatigued players are more vulnerable to all sorts of injuries — including muscle tears, catastrophic ligament ruptures, and pesky soft-tissue injuries that can nag all season.

At a basic level, the NBA wants to be absolutely sure the products work before going to the players’ union and arguing players should wear them during games as part of a push to keep players safe — remember, this was why the league reduced the number of times a team plays four games in five days. Having data from practices and shootarounds is nice, but there just aren’t enough of those during the dog days of the 82-game slog for teams to compile a reliable database. The league can plop this study on the table and say, “We paid for this, and now we know for sure these things do what they are supposed to do.”

Several GMs and other team higher-ups have privately pushed for in-game use, but they understand the league has to collectively bargain that kind of step with the players’ union. Team executives want to know as much as they can about player health, and also whether guys are going as hard as they can during games.

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No. 2: Green on free agency: ‘I knew where I wanted to be’ — Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green had, by all accounts, a breakout season in 2014-15. He emerged as both one of the most improved players and one of its most versatile, helping lead the Warriors to a championship. He was also considered one of the top free agents in this summer’s crop, but he eventually wound up staying with the Warriors on a five-year, $85 million deal. Green talks with BasketballInsiders.com’s Alex Kennedy about his free agency process, the Warriors status as defending champs and more:

Basketball Insiders: Some teams get complacent after winning a title. They’re content with that one championship and don’t play as well that next season. But with you guys, it seems like you’re all really hungry and have something to prove.

Draymond Green: “I mean, I definitely think there is some disrespect going on. But at the end of the day, there will never be an asterisk next to our title in the record books, so it is what it is. And we don’t need any more motivation. We want to repeat, because the feeling of winning that championship was too good. So we don’t need anybody to say, ‘Oh, Cleveland is healthy!’ or, ‘The Spurs have done this and that!’ It is what it is; that’s the NBA. People make moves and people get hurt – that’s the game we play. At the end of the day, it is what it is, but that’s not going to motivate us because we were already motivated and we are looking forward to defending our title and trying to win another.”

Basketball Insiders: Let’s talk about your free agency process. First of all, congratulations on your five-year, $82 million contract. What was it like to go through free agency? I know some players love it and some players hate it. And restricted free agency is obviously pretty rough for some guys. Fortunately for you, your deal got done pretty quickly and all along it was pretty clear you would be going back to the Warriors. What was your free agency process like?

Draymond Green: “It wasn’t much. I talked to one other team and that was really not a serious conversation at all [because] I knew where I wanted to be. I knew where I was going to be and my focus was to have my agent, B.J. Armstrong, work with the Warriors and get a deal done. That was the main focus. I talked to Joe [Lacob]. I talked to Peter [Guber]. I knew where I was going to be, I knew where home was, and we got it done. It was great that the Warriors stepped up to the plate and got it done in the fashion that they did, where I didn’t have to sign an offer sheet or anything like that and we just got the deal done. It says a lot about the Warriors as an organization, it says a lot about Peter and Joe as an ownership group, it says a lot about the front office with Bob [Myers], Kirk [Lacob], and Travis [Schlenk] and everyone else. I’m one of their guys and they stepped up to the plate and got it done. That meant a lot to me.”

Basketball Insiders: Was that other team you talked to the Detroit Pistons? I’m just curious because there was some talk about you going home and you had some other connections to the Pistons as well [Editor’s Note: Green’s former agent, Arn Tellem, joined Detroit’s ownership group as Vice Chairman of Palace Sports and Entertainment.]

Draymond Green: “That other team was not Detroit. I’d rather not say [the team.]”

Basketball Insiders: That’s a great way of looking at it and I love that explanation. Switching gears a bit, what are you working on this summer in terms of your game? I know this offseason has been busy, but you’ve obviously been working out a lot too. What aspects of your game are you focused on improving this summer?

Draymond Green: “Well, I definitely want to improve my jump shot; it obviously got better last year, but I want it to continue to get better. Also, I’m really trying to improve my post game. Teams like to switch on me every now and then and I think in the playoffs I did a great job of taking advantage of drives, but I want to score on the bigs in the post as well. Those are a couple of things I’ve been working on.”

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No. 3: McCollum ready for his chance in Portland — Second-year combo guard C.J. McCollum showed progress in his game last season, with his best performances coming late in the season and into the playoffs. Although the Portland Trail Blazers were ousted in five games in the first round by the Memphis Grizzlies, McCollum had a solid showing in that series, averaging 17.0 ppg, shooting 47.8 both overall and on 3-pointers and generally looked to take a step forward with his game. In a chat with BasketballInsiders.com’s Alex Kennedy, McCollum is ready to do even more come 2015-16:

“I’m going to have ample opportunities and I plan on taking full advantage,” McCollum told Basketball Insiders. “I’ve been preparing for this moment for a long time, even when I wasn’t playing a lot or when I was out of the rotation. In the back of my mind, I always knew that there was going to come a time when I was going to get my chance to play and have an extended role. So I think I’m definitely ready. I definitely feel like I’m in a position now where, mentally and physically, I’m ready to handle whatever responsibilities they thrust upon me.

“I definitely relish the opportunity. This is when you prove yourself. This is when you prove why you were drafted where you were drafted. This is when you justify the organization’s decision to pick you and make them say, ‘This is why we drafted this kid; we always knew this was going to happen.’ That’s what I want them to be able to say when it’s all said and done.”

If the huge strides he made at the end of last season are any indication, he’s ready to thrive in the Blazers’ backcourt. After putting up strong numbers in the final month of the regular season and then having that scoring outburst against a very good Memphis defense, McCollum is feeling very good entering this season.

“My confidence level is definitely very high,” McCollum said. “Even if I had struggled throughout the playoff series, I would have been fine because I know the type of work I put in and I think confidence comes from preparation. It comes from just continuing to be prepared. But, yes, when you see yourself have some individual success, that definitely gives you a boost of confidence. Mentally, I’m ready. Physically, my game is there. I’m just continuing to learn and continuing to try to learn from last season. Obviously I finished the year strong, but it is a new year now so I kind of need to move on while taking things away from it, seeing what things I was able to do well and trying to duplicate that and then working on some things I wasn’t able to do so well.”

As he prepares for his potential breakout year, McCollum has been working extremely hard this summer. He has spent most of the offseason training in Portland, but he has also made stops in California to work out at Peak Performance Project (P3) as well as Toronto to work out with two-time Most Valuable Player Steve Nash.

“This offseason, I have been working on everything,” McCollum said. “Starting off each day, we do morning lifts. Usually we’re there at 8 a.m. or 9 a.m. depending on the day. We lift in the morning and then we go through a series of function movements, dynamic movements, where we focus on core and back. I’ve been doing a lot of leg lifts this summer to strengthen my lower half to make sure I can finish games, be able to maneuver through pick and rolls and withstand the rigors of carrying a heavier load. Then, we get on the court and go through a series of shooting drills – it’s a lot of catch-and-shoot, a lot of shooting off the move, a lot of working on shooting out of sets that I’ll be involved in. Then, we move onto pick-and-roll stuff, ball-handling drills, a lot of passing, working on just getting different shots in different areas, floaters and things like that. I’ve really been working on everything. I’ve even been incorporating some yoga here and there and just trying to take complete advantage of my [offseason] time. It has been very productive and I’ve prepared – mentally and physically – for the season.”

McCollum was surprised to see so many of the team’s veterans leave this summer, but he tried to just focus on the things that he could control. Now that he has seen all of the team’s moves and knows the front office’s long-term plan, he’s very confident that the organization is moving in a positive direction.

“I mean, I found out probably the same way a lot of you guys did,” McCollum said of the free agent departures. “I think my agent gave me a call and informed me some of the stuff that was going on, some of the stuff that had happened early on free agency before the draft. But just as a player though, you don’t really worry about that stuff. You’re focusing on your job. What you prepare for each day is just trying to get better. Whether they bring in players or trade players or keep players, you just need to be ready to perform. That’s kind of how I approached it, knowing it is a business and that anything can happen. But I trust the organization. They are doing a great job of putting a plan together and I think we’re going to execute it to perfection. Now, it’s just about us performing and backing up what they’ve done.”

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No. 4: Chandler may help Morris reacclimate to Suns — If you aren’t well versed in the Markieff Morris vs. Phoenix Suns drama, you haven’t been paying attention this offseason. If you are, you know that — in short — the relationship between the forward and the team is severely fractured (if not totally broken). New Suns center Tyson Chandler, though, can speak from experience about being in a similar situation after he was part of a failed trade in 2009 with New Orleans that saw him never actually leave the team. Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic has more from Chandler, who may be able to help Morris mend fences with Phoenix:

Chandler knows what it is like to come to work with ruffled feathers, having been traded from New Orleans to Oklahoma City in 2009 only to have the Thunder rescind the deal over turf toe.

“Our whole (New Orleans) organization was concerned how I was going to come back and would I lay down and all that kind of stuff,” said Chandler, who began voluntary workouts Monday with the Suns. “I let all of them know, in a meeting with the GM, that ‘I don’t play for you guys. I play for myself. I play for my family. And I play for other guys in that locker room.’ So it wasn’t difficult for me to come back and stand alongside my brothers because that’s who I play for.”

Chandler returned to the New Orleans locker room, declaring, “Y’all can’t get rid of me.” The team won the next seven games after the foiled trade.

Chandler has not been able to speak to Morris yet but he expects to do so soon. His message will focus on how Morris’ feelings toward General Manager Ryan McDonough, adviser and former President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby and Managing Partner Robert Sarver should have no bearing on his play or relationship with teammates and coaches.

“It’s not about them,” Chandler said. “That’s no offense to Ryan, the GM, or the owner. Players play for players and the coaches. You’ve got a bond. Management has nothing to do with anything that goes on when you’re on the court. That’s just my thoughts. I’m not saying this for anything against Keef either. He’s a man and he has to go through his own process. But he can be special and I know he will. I feel like all this stuff will be forgotten once we kick off and we’re having success.”

“He’s a great player and I feel like he has a bright future,” Chandler said. “Sometimes, organizations and players go through hiccups like this. I think all of this can be worked out and I think it will be worked out. I think he’s going to have a bright future with the Phoenix Suns. I’m hoping he’s going to be on the court because I know there are some special things he can do with the type of player that he is.”

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SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: John Lucas III will be a part of the Miami Heat’s training camp … Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert has invested in a website that tracks the resale value of sneakers … The Milwaukee Bucks reportedly have two names on their short list to fill their assistant GM position

2 Comments

  1. Harriethehawk says:

    Let’s Go Hawks!!!

  2. michael says:

    draymond is one of my favorite players in the league because he is completely selfless, he gives up his body to make plays for his team and is willing to all the dirty little things that most players won’t do. He can guard all five positions on the floor, he bangs with the bigs down low(he is barely 6’8 by the way) and can step out and hit threes. The heart and soul of the team in my opinion and is well deserving of that big contract. Every team would benefit from having a dreymond on their team for sure and he is also one of the funniest guys in the league. Hands down Dre is the man!!!!