Working Hard to Get Better

I hope everyone is enjoying their summer so far. I’ve been working out in Austin, Texas for the last few weeks, just trying to improve my game.

I’ve gotten better every year since I came into the league, but there are definitely things I feel I need to do to take the next step. I’ve improved my shot, which was something that was criticized when I came in. I think it’s made a lot of progress.

I’m continuing to grow my game offensively and I’ve also become a better defender. My goal is to continue to build my game. I think, if I can do that, I’ll be able to help my team and hopefully put myself into a situation to one day be Defensive Player of the Year.

I’ve been doing a lot of explosion workouts so I can get to the rim and finish better next season (Getty Images).

This offseason, I’ve been working on just trying to get my athleticism and some of my explosiveness back. I’m doing a bunch of body explosion and quickness training. I think it will help me offensively get to the basket and finish better. I’ve been focusing on that a lot. I’ve been working more on my shooting as well.

My jump shot is getting better. I have worked hard on that. I want to become a consistent three-point shooter. But I also want to develop a post game. I have a chance to go down in the post, create a mismatch and I want to be able to score down there. The explosiveness workouts are helping with that, so I can get to the rim.

In the offseason, my workout is broken down depending on the month. In July, I do a lot of body work. Then in August, I still do body work but I’ll phase in more basketball drills. I still do basketball stuff in July. I shoot the ball a lot all summer. But when August comes I’ll be working out on the court a lot more, doing drills and things of that nature.

It’s not easy to work on defense in individual workouts, but one thing I can do for my defense in the summer is watch some game footage. I like to go back to see how I guarded different guys, what I can do to limit the top scorers in the league. I look for what they did to bother me and what I did to bother them. I’ll watch a few games a week to get through the whole season.

For defense, there’s not one specific exercise that you can do in a workout. I personally have never done any exercise defensively that I can say helped me. But I think if you get your body in good shape, that helps. If you’re strong enough to hold your ground in the post, but quick enough to guard a smaller guy, you’re in good shape and you’re going to get there.

Offseason workouts are different for everybody, we’re all working on different aspects of our game, whether it’s shooting, ball-handling, rebounding, anything. But first and foremost it’s all about taking care of your body. If you always keep your body in shape and train for next season, then you’ll stay healthy. That’s the main thing you want to do.

My advice for younger athletes training would be to always go hard. Whenever you train, always try to go through game situations as much as you can. Then when it comes to the game, your transition will be smooth.

Even with the lockout, I’m still training as if the season is going to start in October. If it does start in October, I’ll be ready. If it doesn’t, I’ll just continue training some more. That’s my mentality about it.

I’ve worked hard to get to where I am and I know I need to continue to work hard to get where I want to go. It’s a long process, but this is the best thing in the world to do for a living. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

When you think about defense, it’s not always the skills. It’s willingness. You have to work at it. You have to want to do it. I’m really relentless when I get to work. I want to get better. I want to be the best. That really helps me when I go out there.

I’m in Africa now for my camp in Cameroon and some work with Basketball Without Borders. Check back soon for my blog about the camp!