What to expect in the preseason.
Stotts on how he approaches the preseason: “I think it evolves. We have seven preseason games and as we get close to the season the rotation players get more minutes. I think early on you get a look at a lot of different guys, but the closer you get to the season the rotation will probably tighten a little bit. You always like to win, but that’s not the priority. You want to win, you want to be competitive, you want to be in a position to win a game always, getting guys on the court and getting better and teaching through mistakes, all those things, at this stage, are more important. I’m more concerned about how we’re playing, and how we need to get better right now.”
Stotts on the starting lineup for the first preseason game: “J.J. will start at center, Damian, Wes, Nic and LaMarcus.”
Opponents will make guarding Damian Lillard a priority.
Stotts on Lillard: “From day one what I’ve said about him is his demeanor and his poise belies his years. He’s only gonna get better at it. From what I’ve seen he’s a very quick learner, he adjusts. If I tell him something or I suggest something, he takes it and the next time he’s trying it, he’s doing it. So I think he’s going to continue to get better. He’s very good in pick and rolls now, but he’s gonna get better because he’s gonna see different defenses, teams are gonna adjust to him, so it’s going to be a learning curve. There’s a big difference in running pick and rolls in summer league and pick and rolls in pick up games and pick and rolls in an NBA game, so there’s gonna be a learning curve... Talent level, intensity level, schemes, the talent level in summer league is not as good, in pick up games you don’t have the same intensity and you get into an NBA season and they’re gonna make Damian’s pick and rolls a priority defensively, so there’s a progression and I’ve been very pleased up to now, but there’s room to grow as well... He’s going to have pick and roll opportunities, he’s a good scorer. That will be a priority for opponents.”
Lillard on the pick and roll: “I’m trying to see everything on the floor. I think the better I get to know the plays and get to know where guys need to be on the floor, my thought process will work, what play I need to make, where the ball needs to be. For us to be effective I think the better I get at that the easier it’ll be when people key in on me.”
Nicolas Batum has changed his shooting technique.
Over the last week of watching Nico play I’ve been wavering back and forth in my mind on whether his shot was different. Come to find out, the minute change wasn’t all in my head. It’s not a major change, but a noticeable one.
Batum on releasing the ball higher into his shot: “A little bit yeah. I not work with a shooting coach, but with coach me in my last three year in France, my coach national team. I work a lot with him this past summer again. Try to get a better arc on my shot, it was too flat. I start working with Coop, coach Coop last year, and same this summer, so I try to get a better arc. I got long arms, so if I release higher they can’t really block my shot. A guy like Kevin Durant, LeBron James, all those guy like Dirk Nowitski who can shoot, they finish really high so I try to do the same.
The defensive schemes, drills and sets are translating in scrimmaging.
Stotts: “Yeah, our pick and roll defense, they’re being aggressive. I think they’re being aggressive with just the physical nature of guarding screens, pin downs, staying with their guy, transition defense, so the defensive things that we’ve been emphasizing I think they’re taking it to heart. And then offensively, offense is more about timing and angles and things like that, so those are things we have to clean up offensively.”
Joel Freeland is focused.
Freeland on shooting the three: “I’ve been working on it a little bit, I’ve been working on it over the summer. It’s hard for me to adjust to this one, it’s a little bit further than the European one, but I’m working on it everyday trying to get better.”
Freeland on what he’s taken away from training camp so far: “I’ve learned a lot. Playing against LaMarcus everyday has helped me hugely, I’m always asking him questions and asking the coaches questions and trying to get better. I know that I have a few flaws in the defensive side of the game, so learning the three second rule in defense, that doesn’t exist in Europe, so that’s something that I gotta adjust to, and I’m trying to just take it step by step.”
Freeland on what he works on before practice with coach Kim Hughes: “Shooting, touch shooting, post moves, threes, a little bit of everything. I’m always here like an hour before trying do something.”
Freeland on his fade-away jumper: “You create more space, if you can get that shot it’s a lot easier to make that shot, but it’s a very hard shot to perfect. I’ve got to be able to get to the basket as well. The way I like to play, I like to play against fours and fives, so if I’m playing against a five that’s bigger than me I like to try and take him out a bit and attack the basket or shoot the jumper and if I’m playing against a four I try and get to the basket and try to score over him more, try and be more aggressive against a four.”