The NBA offseason is all about adding something to your game. For a lot of guys it’s just lip service at media day but, for others, it’s the absolute truth. Less than a week into the preseason a few guys are showing some brand new stuff in their games.
The days of Rajon Rondo standing alone at the top of the key appear to be over. Even though the Boston Celtics have yet to play an NBA team this preseason (thanks to their European trip) one thing is clear, this is a brand new Rondo in green. He isn’t just taking perimeter shots if open…he’s looking for them, and nailing them. Rajon has replaced that shot-put set-shot with a newer, smoother version. Former teammate Ray Allen would be proud. But wait, there’s more…..Doc Rivers is also making a conscious effort to feature Rondo down on the block. With his freakishly long limbs and impressive court vision this is a new weapon that could help make up for the age and decay of legends Paul Pierce & Kevin Garnett.
When you look at DeAndre Jordan this season, his ‘brolete’ isn’t the only thing worth noting. Just two minutes into the Los Angeles Clippers preseason opener vs Denver, it was obvious that ‘DJ’ has worked on his low post game all summer. The first two or three plays went straight down into #6 and he responded with both right- and left-handed shots. They even looked better than Dwight Howard’s canned Ewing moves. Now if DeAndre can just make a few free throws we’ll see him in some fourth quarters (a rarity last season). Whatever keeps fake thug Ryan Hollins off the court is a good thing for the league as a whole.
I was at the Phoenix Suns scrimmage to end training camp at UC San Diego and one thing was very clear, Jared Dudley is more than just a three-pointer anymore. After years of glorified garbage game in Charlotte, Jared went to Phoenix and turned into a knockdown shooter. Playing alongside Steve Nash, he dedicated his offseasons to working on his long distance shot. With Nash gone, it’s clear what he worked on this summer…ball-handling and passing. He’s showing an ability to come off screens (with or without the ball), draw the defense, and find the open man in rhythm. I look for Dudley to not only start on the wing this season but also to be a leader…..on and off the court.
Tony Allen, of the Memphis Grizzlies, only took a few jumpshots in his first action this preseason…but I noticed something was different. Gone is the shot-put jumper (a la Rondo), replaced with a more fluid two-handed shot. Granted, there hasn’t been a lot of information to go on so far but I think Tony has seriously improved his shot. Nevertheless, I still think new acquisition Wayne Ellington will replace Allen as starting SG and help space the floor for Z-Bo & Gasol.
Extra Shot: Don’t be alarmed if catch an Atlanta Hawks game this week. If you didn’t know better, you’d think Jamal Crawford lost a step in the summer. No folks, he’s in Los Angeles with the Clippers…..the new #11 in the ATL is former Spurs draft pick James Anderson. His jumpshot and dribbling still are the same, only nearly not as explosive or effective. Hopefully he can find his niche by doing something Jamal doesn’t do…..hit the open man.