Media Day's always a hoot. Players regale us with stories of going from fat to svelte and skinny to toned; they tell us how in three months' time they've become ambidextrous, a boss on the block, an assassin from deep; how they can jump higher, run faster, breathe freer, you know the drill. Then there are the pictures; those cheeseball visuals of players doing cheeseball things. Just ask Goran Giricek, for example, from his days with the Utah Jazz:
In regards to the Pacers, Media Day 2014 focused a lot on the business of "re-calibrating" expectations, as it should have. We heard from resident gray beard, David West, along with Roy Hibbert and George Hill about the unique challenges posed by the 2014-2015 season. Believe it or not, other players on the team spoke, too, and below is a small compilation of quotes (all via Pacers.com):
Solomon Hill on what he gleaned from his rookie season:
Patience. It’s not just a physical game, it’s a mental game as well. Going from playing all four years then going to sitting … mentally I was lost and didn't know where I was.
C.J. Miles on playing under Jerry Sloan:
One of the best things that could’ve happened to me coming in young; coming in at 18-years old. You’re still kind of raw in how you approach the game … you’re still used to being the biggest, fastest, strongest player on the floor ALL the time, and now you come into a situation where ‘I’m a guard now’ and I came from playing center on defense, and playing guard on offense, and doing whatever I wanted and just roaming around and doing this or that. On the defensive end is where he really helped me … and helping me become a man on the basketball court.
Rodney Stuckey on his role:
This league is kind of changing. There’s not necessarily a guard, there’s a lot of combo guards, guys that can play two positions ... and that’s where I see myself: playing the one, two, and also guarding some threes.
C.J. Watson on the shift in offensive philosophy:
…we still have a lot of scoring with D-West down there, and Scola backing him up gives you as much scoring if not more than Roy Hibbert, so I think our plan will probably be to play through our bigs, and everyone else will just get in where they fit in, and I think we’ll be fine.
He said, he said
Pacer fans thought they had it rough when Rodney Stuckey joined the team, but that's nothing compared to the drama brewing between Dion Waiters and John Wall. It all started with Bradley Beal's Media Day proclamation that Wall and Beal comprise the best backcourt in the NBA. But, hey, I've already said too much, let's have them tell the rest of the story:
Dion Waiters via cleveland.com:
Cavaliers shooting guard Dion Waiters has never been short on confidence. When he heard about Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal's statement during the team's Media Day that the NBA's best backcourt plays in the nation's capital, Waiters didn't mince words.
"That's nonsense," Waiters said following Tuesday's practice. "He's supposed to say that, but I think me and Ky are the best backcourt, young backcourt."
John Wall rebuttal via the Washington Post:
"Why he say that? They haven’t seen a playoff game yet so when they make one they can start talking," Wall said after the Wizards completed their first training camp practice of the season. "But if you’re going to be the best back court, you have to start. This is the year he’s probably starting so let’s see who got to best back court. You got to be a starting back court to be the best back court."
Kind of makes you wanna laugh like the Joker and drill a corkscrew into your temple, doesn't it? Nothing like a couple of guys boasting a combined winning percentage of .358 verbally jousting for "best" this and that, and slinging no-playoff digs. Somebody, quick, round up some duct tape and send it express to D.C. and Cleveland. If that doesn't do the trick, then we'll have no other choice but to dust off our vintage 1970's ninja movie collection (VHS version, of course), and flood their Twitter feeds with quotes of yesterzen. That'll shut'em up. Right, Roy?
The same from I to C
It didn't take long for Lance Being Lance to find its way to Charlotte. In one corner, you've got wide-eyed Lance who claims that he could barely speak during his first meeting with Michael Jordan because, you know, that's what happens when you're in the presence of your childhood idol. In the other corner, you've got He-Hate-Me Lance who warns that if MJ steps onto the practice floor, he won't be shy to go at him. It's exactly these sort of split Lancinalities that make him both endearing and perplexing.
On a more serious note, Lance appears to be acclimating well to his new team. He's already secured a starting spot (I'm sure the 9-mil-a-year salary helped his cause), and the same article details how Steve Clifford believes Lance can be a legitimate All-Star player. Not a bad start for Sir Lancealot, but I gotta think it's only a matter of time before the Gerald Hendersons of the world become the next Evan Turner's grill on Lance's knuckles.
I loved this tweet from Candace Buckner:
Also during this camp, Lavoy Allen has become dat dude on the glass. Vogel: "We got a joke, if U need a rebound, Lavoy will get it for U."— Candace Buckner (@CandaceDBuckner) October 2, 2014
People bemoan the lack of playmaking on the roster in the absence of Stephenson and George, but the swagtastic duo also leaves a big hole in the rebounding department. Lance and PG combined to average 14 RPG last season. With David West succumbing to Father Time and Roy Hibbert already a below-average rebounder, the Pacers need to find some other guys willing to crash the boards. Enter Lavoy Allen. Or not. He averaged a paltry eight MPG in 14 games for the Pacers in 2013-2014, his most noteworthy performance being a 12-point, 11-rebound double-double in the regular-season finale. Not much to go on, I know, but the bottom line is this: the Pacers need unexpected production from unexpected places if they want to make good on their quest for the playoffs, and Lavoy will have an opportunity to fill that niche early on as he works to replace an injured Ian Mahimni off the bench.
Until next week my Blue-and-Gold compadres.