NBA Player Offseason Workouts – Part 2

By Don Kelbick

August 10

Back at it after another forced layoff. The one thing we were trying to avoid was re-injuring Raja’s calf muscle. He decided to try to play a little bit and wound up tweaking it. It is the same calf muscle that he hurt during the season and forced him to sit out the last nine games of the season. So we took some time off for therapy and then got back at it.

All I wanted to do was get the ball back in his hands. We started with short-longs for a warm up. We then went to wing shooting, catch and shoot, from both sides and the top. The next progression was the same drill with one dribble in the same direction. It started out slow but once he regained his rhythm he wound up making 24 in a row.

From there we moved to trailer shots. Moving from mid-court, trailing from each side of the lane, first was catch and shoot, next a 1-dribble counter and then a 2nd-dribble counter.

We then went inside and did front pivot jumpers and quick turns.

We finished up with some break work, handling on the run from mid-court, 2 dribbles into a shot.

We finished with 310 makes and, with the exception of screen work, touched most of the areas that he wants to improve on.

August 11

Rasual Butler joined us today. He has been lifting and boxing for 4 weeks and looks great. Rasual is coming off a great year. After two years ago not even dressing for 59 games, last year he started 72 games and averaged 12ppg. I think that is a direct result of the work he put in last summer.

Rasual is a shot hound. The more reps the better. He is much different than Raja in that Raja has several areas he wants to work on to become more complete. Rasual feels his ticket is his shot. He shoots so many shots that I can’t believe his shoulder and wrist don’t develop tendonitis. I know I throw him so many passes that my arms hurt.

After the short/long, we went to 5/5/5 to get into some rhythm and footwork. Then wing shooting on both sides, top and wing and across the top. From there, we went to corner fades, and wing pin downs. In the blink of an eye, we were up to 300 made shots. We then went to trailer shots, both catch and shoot and 1-dribble counters. We finished up with making 5 out of 7 from seven spots and shooting 15 foul shots for a total of 500 made shots in about an hour and ten minutes.

Rasual then told me that he might not be in tomorrow because he thinks he is being traded to the Clippers and might have to go to LA.

August 12

Woke up today with the news that Rasual, in fact, has been traded to the Clippers. I hope this is a good move for him as he has been told that he is a projected starter at one of the wing positions.

Started with short/longs with Raja. I really think that little drill has value as it really sets up your shooting rhythm and gets you loose. 140 shots in a few minutes will raise your core body temperature pretty quickly.

We then went to screen work, running fades and curls off win screens. First with no dribble, then with 1 dribble. New York cuts off of wing screens, again with no dribble then with 1 dribble.

I had mentioned earlier how Raj likes to mentor younger kids. There was a 14 year old shooting with his father on the next court. Every chance they got, they would come over and watch. During a break, Raja went over to introduce himself. He then asked the kid if he wanted to join us. I can’t believe how wide his eyes got. He joined us for the wing screens.

We then went to trailer shots, 1 dribble counters, off the break, and then with a second dribble change.

Quite a bit of running in this workout so we finished with some spot shooting from 5 spots and some foul shots.

August 13

We started today with some foot work, doing chair pivot with drop steps, front pivots and then inside pivot. As we changed pivots we progressively moved further outside. Inside pivots were done at about 18’. We then went to inside pivot counter with 1 dribble. If we were doing it in the post, the counter would be to a power move, but on the wing the dribble is used to create a pull up jumper.

We then progressed to L-cuts from the wing, first a catch and shoot and then to an offensive move. We then moved the starting point to the wing and ran the same options cutting to the top.

We then went into the post for front pivot fades and quick turns for layups.

Next was wing screen work, over the top and then turn downs. Then I acted as the screen defender and hedged the ball screen. First, was dribble splits with a high hedge and then we worked on dragging the hedgeman to force a switch.

We closed with 5/7 from 7 spots.

August 14

Today was an off day. During the workout season, just like the regular season, rest is important. The most common type of injury is not abrasions, bruises or contusions but overuse injuries. Too much work will take you off the court, due to strains, pulls and fatigue. Overuse is the primary cause of tendonitis, a common condition in athletes. Once you have it, the only cure is rest. During the season, rest is hard to come by so we try to stay pro-active by scheduling in off days. This is one of those days when Raja lifts, but does not workout.

August 15

Back at it. Today is repetition day. I usually categorize the workouts when we have a regular workout. All workouts contain shot repetitions, footwork, conditioning and ball handling. How we work on those is dependent on the type of workout. I try to vary them so the players don’t get bored or stale. The categories are repetition, where we just concentrate on a high volume of shots; fast break, where we run up the floor and simulate skills coming off break options; screens, where we concentrate on reading and coming off all types of screens (except ball screens) and position, where we work on things specific to the players position, such as getting open on the wing, ball screens, post ups, pop outs, etc. This is also when we take pieces of his offense and his role during the season and try to incorporate them into drills.

We started with 5/5/5 from 7 spots. Then moved on to wing shooting. We used 5 spot instead of the 3 we usually use. The spots were: wing-to-corner, wing-to-elbow, elbow-to-elbow, elbow-to-wing and wing-to corner. Making 15 shots in each series usually works out to be a pretty good drill. The conditioning in a repetition workout comes from the intensity and the rapid succession of the drills, as opposed to the movement needed to cover ground. We take no breaks for the entire workout and only shoot fouls at the end. In about 15-20 minutes, we were quickly up to 180 shots.

We then moved on to about 15’ with back to the basket shots. These are usually front pivot jumpers, some with counters and dribbles, and what we call “quick turns.” A quick turn is essentially a front pivot which turns into a sort of a spin or wheel turn because the end result is a lay-up instead of a jump shot. Larry Brown, the Bobcat coach, likes miss-matches and they feel that if they get Raja isolated against a slower player (and there aren’t many of them) he should be able to out-quick them to the whole. At the very least, he might be able get to the foul line.

We then went back outside and did a flare drill in which the shooter catches going away from the passer, the ball comes over the top for either a jump shot or a 1-dribble shot.

We then went out to the top, come from mid-court, catch from the wing (as if the shooter was a trailer) and then; catch and shoot, catch and 1-dribble shot, catch and 2nd-dribble change. Since he believes that he will handle the ball more this year, I try to have him make 1 dribble moves and add in a 2nd dribble counter as much as I can.

We finished up with 70 3’s, 10 from each of 7 spots.

August 16

Today was play day. Miami, or Florida for that matter, is not known as a basketball area. Even if that is so, there is an enormous number of NBA players, past, future and current, that live down here. It is traditional that they all get together and play at Miami High at 10 am on Sunday mornings. Some Sundays, you might see more NBA players on the court at Miami High than you would in an NBA game. Regulars include Carlos Boozer, Udonis Haslem, Jason Williams, Tim Hardaway, Rasual Butler, Carlos Arroyo, Glen Rice, James Jones, John Salmons and more, in addition to a lot of local college and international players. They get some pretty good runs going.

It is usually a pretty good test and allows us to gage how we are progressing.

August 17

We usually emphasize the things that Raja feels did not go well on play day. Today, we worked on coming off screens. I think the reason he didn’t come off screens well on Sunday is because, in pickup games, nobody screens. There is no flow and the ball is usually not delivered properly. Regardless of that, he feels he should be able to overcome those types of errors and still be able to make shots.

We started with short/longs and immediately went into corner pins where the cuts were a fade to the corner. Next was wing screen downs, using curl cuts and popping out behind the screen.

Next were flare screens. As we worked the flares, we started to ease into a little ballhandling. The first set was a catch and shoot off the flair. The second was catch, shoot and sweep away with 1 dribble. The 3rd was catch, sweep 1 dribble and then a 2nd dribble counter. The last set was catch and then rip back to the middle.

The next screen was a zipper screen, first to a catch and shoot and then to a ball screen on top.

Moving on to ball screens, we went to the wing where we worked dribble screens for shots and then turn-downs.

We finished up with a game of 5/7 from NBA 3 point range, from 7 spots. At one point he made 19 in a row.

August 18

Don’t let anyone tell you that NBA players don’t work hard. Carlos Boozer was in the gym today. It has been a different summer for him this year. He had announced early that he was going to exercise to out clause in his contract next year (probably a mistake. Not exercising it but announcing it). He is now involved in an ugly divorce from the Utah Jazz. They are frantically trying to trade his, while he has value, before they lose him as a free agent. His salary is so high that he doesn’t fit the salary cap for many teams. Plus, if they wait, they know they can get him as a free agent and not lose any of their current players or draft picks. It is a tough situation. Even with that swirling around him, he works as hard as anyone. In the gym, trying to get better. Wherever he winds up, he’ll be ready.

We started with footwork, doing chair pivots. We only did the basic pivots, drop step, front pivot, inside pivot. We did not do counters.

Next was wing play, into which we incorporated the counters that we did not do in the footwork drills. We went with L-cuts to the wing with a catch and shoot from about 23 feet. The footwork is the same as an inside pivot. Logically, the next step is an L-cut to a sweep counter with 1 dribble. We try to cover as much ground as possible with 1 dribble. We try to get a lay-up or, at worst, a pull up jumper inside 8 feet. We then go to a 2nd-dribble change. We also worked a catch and rip into the seam, with 1 dribble.

Next we worked 1 and 2 dribble shots from the high wing, starting with the ball about 28 feet from the basket. First we worked the first move going toward the middle and then the first move going up the sideline.

We next worked break shots, first running up to the corner and then trailer shots.

We finished up with a 7 spot, 5/7. At one point he made 14 in row and 19 of 21.

August 19

Before the workout today, Raja stated his goals for the upcoming season; 90% from the line, 45% from the floor and 42% from 3. He believes that, in Larry Brown’s system, he can accomplish that. The way that he is used to will give him more opportunities closer to the basket that he had in Phoenix. That will translate into a better shooting percentage and more foul shot opportunities. He probably won’t get as many as 3 opportunities, but the ones he will get might be better looks.

We started with a Mikan Drill, both frontward and backward. We then when to some chair pivots with the chairs spread a little further apart. He can tell already that there would be more conditioning in this workout. We also wanted to work up a sweat quickly.

We then moved on to some intensity drills. Intensity layups followed by some X jump shots. After a few foul shots, we went back to intensity jump shots, with 1 dribble, then intensity jump shots with a second dribble change. The last one in the series was an intensity jump shot, with the catch, a rip back to the middle and 1 dribble.

A few more foul shots led us to a set of wing shots, first with a catch and shoot and then with a catch and rip back to the inside. We only did 3 areas, wing and corner on both sides and across the top, as opposed to the 5 spots we did in the repetition workout. That is because doing as much reversing direction as we were doing, by ripping back to the middle, is very taxing, especially on the legs.

The next set was L-cuts to the wing and from the wing to the middle. All the catches were to 1 dribble shots, including rips back to the middle.

We then went to 7 spots, making 10 3s from each. When we shoot 3s, we estimate the distance from basket by using the 3-point line that is on the court. Raja wound up a long way long way out. He really wasn’t aware that they have extended the college 3-point line this year to. I think it is near 21’ now. So, instead of being near the NBA distance, we wound up 2’ further out. Once we made the adjustment he made 19 straight.

We finished up with a foul shooting game.

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