What's the real toll on NBA players participating with USA Basketball in the summer?
The benefits are clear for a player like Danny Granger. It offers an opportunity to expand his game and learn from other great players and a cast of different coaches. Personally, for those reasons alone, I think it's worth the risk of injury or wearing out Granger for the NBA regular season.
My thinking is that the players are working out in the summer anyway, plus the playing rotation in games rarely has a player putting in heavy game minutes. So from a physical standpoint, it's a similar workload albeit more intense and mentally draining, but the benefits far outweigh the risk.
Well, while I still belive the benefits outweigh the risks, my thoughts on the topic were changed after discussing it with Danny Granger.
Granger was in my 'hood last week to take part in the Danny Granger Basketball Camp at the Fishers Fieldhouse. On Friday I dropped by for a few minutes at lunch and talked to Granger briefly about the USA Basketball experience and his thoughts on the Pacers offseason and lack of major moves.
What I learned is that Granger's offseason routine is drastically different this summer. Part of that is obvious, since he's been working out with Team USA, but the more subtle differences include having to be in game shape for USA Basketball which is another level of fitness compared to normal summer workout shape. Getting into game shape usually begins later in the summer when in a normal year while preparing for a regular NBA season.
Also, the FIBA ball plays differently than the NBA ball so getting used to the different ball and not working as much with a regular NBA ball, while minor, still impacts shooting and ball handling.
Granger was in great spirits at his camp coming off being selected to go to New York with Team USA and enjoying the some playful interaction with the kids. On August 9th, Granger will meet up with Team USA again for another training camp session from August 10th thru the 16th which will include an exhbition game against France on August 15th at Madison Square Garden.
After the jump, check out the highlights from our conversation.
What will it take to make the final Team USA 12-man roster.
Well, the funny thing about USA Basketball, it's not necessarily about taking the best players. I think they're trying to take the best players that play the best together and that's a hard fit. Sometimes a different group of players have a better chemistry than another group. It doesn't necessarily mean those players are better because I think all of us there are very good players in the NBA, it's just a matter of who plays the best together.
On the shin injury that kept Granger out of training camp for a day?
We were playing against the college national select team and one of the kids kneed me right in the shin and it got inflamed and swollen but I only missed a day and I was okay after that. Nothing major, otherwise I would've stopped playing.
On altering his offseason schedule with USA Basketball.
It is definitely different. I had to start working out a lot earlier and had to be in shape to play in games. Another aspect is it's a different ball, also. So you have to get accustomed to that also because the international ball is completely different from the NBA ball, so you have to get a feel for it with your jump shot and the ball handling, so it's been a different process.
On concerns with wearing out before NBA season starts.
There's a little concern, but depending on how things turn out and how this month and a half goes, they'll have to rest me a little bit in pre-season just so I won't get worn out but I think I'll be OK.
Turning to the Pacers, speak to the lack of big changes other than the rookies.
We haven't made a lot of changes yet, but I don't our front office is done making improvements. I think it's just a matter of time, but with our draft picks I think those young guys are really going to help us. Maybe not this year but in the years down the line, so I think we're making good progress.
New team dynamic with several young players along with several players with expiring contracts. As THE man among the young core, suddenly the elder statesman, talk about your responsibilities from a leadership standpoint.
I have a big responsibility. We have to get this team back in the playoffs and that's our foremost goal right now. Like I said, we just added young players that are very, very good. We still have young players in Brandon Rush and Roy Hibbert guys like that who are still going to help us. Like you said, with the expiring contracts coming up, we'll always have opportunities to make the team better.
On the rookies.
I've been good friends with Paul George so I know him and I know his game. Lance Stephenson, I haven't seen him much and Magnum Rolle. I haven't seen his game much either. But I watched them both play in summer league and Stephenson was very impressive and I think he can do great things for us.
On the young players giving the team more lineup flexibility.
We are more flexible with numerous wings and if Tyler Hansbrough comes back this year that's like we're getting another first round pick because he didn't really have an opportunity to show what he could do last year. So it's very promising for us, not to mention that Jeff Foster is healthy.
On Foster helping out from a leadership standpoint on the court .
Having Jeff on the court is tremendous. Especially as far as our offensive rebounding, plus he's probably our best post defender. So what he's done in his career is really remarkable and we've missed him for the past year or so. When we get him back that will be a great improvement for us.