The summer league in Las Vegas was a good experience, but as a team I think we could’ve played better. We knew heading in that we were going to have our work cut out for us in terms of finding chemistry. DJ Strawberry and I were the only ones on the team who had played together and when you try to form a ballclub with a bunch of guys that haven’t played with one another, it’s tough.
As far as my individual performance goes, I felt good and I’m getting more and more confident when I step out onto the court. My 3-point shooting has really improved as has my ability to shoot off the dribble. Working with assistant coach Dan Majerle, I’ve gotten a lot more shooting reps then usual and there have been times when I’ve shot the ball so much I could no longer lift up my shooting arm. That hard work though is really resulting in more confidence when it comes to me shooting the ball. My only regret is that I wish as a team we would’ve won a few more ballgames. Anytime I compete I’m looking to win and unfortunately we dropped some games towards the end.
Summer league also offered me my first opportunity to play with Phoenix’s new rookie, Robin Lopez. Robin has tremendous upside and is going to be a lot of help to us, especially down low. He’s got a lot of length and knows how to use that to his advantage. A lot of guys don’t realize his length and he’s going to be a solid shotblocker. Working with guys like Amaré Stoudemire is only going to help him in terms of his offensive game. The most important thing about Robin though is that he’s a good listener. You could see he took in and applied the things the coaches were looking for and that’s what’s really going to be important for him during his rookie season.
“Thunder Dan” helped coach our team in Vegas and was great. He’s easy to interact with, fun to talk to and the guys really appreciate that. Most importantly, he understands the game and offers a lot of basketball knowledge to his players. He’s just like me in the sense he eats, sleeps and breathes the game of basketball and it was great playing for somebody like that. He offers a lot of help but at the same time he’s intense when we hit the court. He’s out there looking to compete, looking to win. We share a lot of similarities and I’m looking forward to working with him more this upcoming season.
Speaking of which, the season is just around the corner. Guys like Amaré, DJ and Boris Diaw are already working out with me at the arena. Also, I spoke to Grant Hill this week, who said he’ll be joining us shortly. It feels good to see the guys out there preparing and to know that they’re dedicated. It’s exciting to see how focused the veterans on this team are and how important it is to them to make this season a successful one.
The key for the rest of the summer is keeping in shape and continuing to work on the things the coaches tell me they’re looking to see. I think I’ve done a good job in gaining the confidence of our coaches and am looking to enter training camp in as good of shape as possible. For some players in the league, training camp is about getting in shape and getting ready for the season. I want to head to Tucson for training camp already in good shape and this way will be able to focus more on improving my game. As a player you’re always looking for ways to improve. For me right now it’s about expanding my range and working on my ballhandling skills.
Away from the court, I’ve really just been checking out as many movies as possible. Arizona summers have taught me the importance of staying indoors as much as possible and a great way to do that is checking out new films. So far, The Dark Knight has been my must-see movie of the summer and I’ve already seen it twice. The Incredible Hulk movie was another one I really enjoyed and was definitely a lot better than the one that came out a few years ago. I’m a big comic book fan and everybody tells me all the time that I’m really just a big kid. In fact, I think I’m going to wrap up this blog entry, go home and fix myself a bowl of cereal and watch some cartoons. I’ll check back in soon and always appreciate reading your responses. Enjoy the rest of your summer Suns fans, and I’ll see you for training camp.