Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Summertime in the gym

As you've probably heard since just about every member of the working media in Portland/SW Washington was in attendance, Greg Oden, Channing Frye, Steve Blake, Steven Hill and David Lucas worked out at the practice facility this morning. The main attraction was obviously Oden, as this was the first time the media at large wer allowed to watch the big man participate in full contact drills. It was mostly two on two and one on two drills proctored by assistant coach Dean Demopoulos, and I've got to say, everyone looked pretty damn good.

It goes a little something like this. To start the workout, Oden, Frye and Blake are on one side of the court while Hill and Lucas are on the other (to be honest, I focused primarily on the side with the guys who are currently under contract). The first drill has the post, usually Oden, setting a screen just below the three-point line for Blake. Blake curls off the screen, while Oden rolls toward the basket for the alley-oop.

Next up, the double screen and roll. Oden and Frye set screens in the lane, while Blake comes from the baseline. After Blake clears the screens, Frye leaks out to the baseline three, after which Oden rolls to the middle. Blake hits Frye with a pass, Frye finds Oden around the hoop for the lob.

It gets a little more interesting after that. In the next drill, the post sets a screen at the top the the key, then rolls to the basket for a dunk. After that, it's a sprint to the top of the key, then back to position to defend a two-on-one. Back to the top of the key, back to the post to defend a guard at the hoop. Back to the key, back to the hoop to defend another two-on-one.

After that, it was two on two with various pairings. Oden and Frye vs. Lucas and Hill with Blake playing guard for both teams. Greg and Frye vs. Blake and Hill. Greg and Blake vs. Channing and Hill. Ect. Ect.

After that, some free throws, then it's time to address the hordes of media who showed up to watch. All in all, it lasted for about an hour and a half. Also worth noting that each guy had another workout, be it boxing, pilates, weight lifting or more on-court drills scheduled for the afternoon.

As far as performance, we'll start with G.O. Just about a week into contact drill, the man is still a beast. His explosiveness probably wasn't what it eventually will be, but when it comes to Greg you realized fairly quickly that, at least in a practice setting, it doesn't much matter. If he gets position anywhere in the post, that's a dunk. Around the foul line (on the rare occasions that he goes out that far), he'll back you down and finish with a dunk. Receiving a lob anywhere near the basket? You know that's a dunk.

Steven Hill, along with Channing Frye and David Lucas, came hard at Greg, but he's just so difficult to move. And holding your position against him is just as vexing. He contests everything. You can really see his ability to cover ground in the quicker drills. His post moves are serviceable, and his baby hook is dialed in.

And he throws it down, vicious-like. Soft hands but he's throw it though the hoop at almost every opportunity. His conditioning also seems to be getting better.

As for Channing, he's probably in the best shape of his life. Where Greg has mass, Channing has definition. The combination of pilates, boxing, basketball workouts and a change in diet has left Frye cut up. It makes it a bit more difficult to guard Oden, but he'll be much better prepared to guard NBA power forwards. His quickness and elevation seem improved. His stamina is off the charts. He's also got a decent handle.

His long range shot is dialed in. Frye has been talking about improving his range out to the three-point line, and the work is paying off. He's always been a solid mid-range shooter, but teams are now going to have to respect him out to the three, especially around the baseline. That opens up room for Oden, Przybilla, Roy, Bayless, Rudy and anyone else willing to camp in the post or attack the rim.

Today's workout was geared toward the big men, but Blake managed to hold his own. Blake is the kind of guy who's always in shape, but he seems to have a bit more bounce in his step. Case in point: Blake went up and dunked the ball during one of the drills, something I'm not sure I've ever seen him do. He's probably been able to throw it down since junior high, but this was the first time I remember seeing him actually do it. I'm sure Blake hears all the talk about the point guard position and I'm guessing it's provided plenty of motivation.

Blake had to occasionally guard Frye during drill, and he actually did a pretty good job all things considered. The defense consisted of a lot of grabbing, but hey, whatever works.

All in all, a great workout. Still far too early to draw too many conclusions, but if everyone, not just Oden, keeps progressing, it's on.


Beninportland said...

Hi Mike,
Any word on what LMA is doing this summer to improve his game? I know he was working out the Olympic team, but do you have any other details? Seems like a lot of the news flow has centered around (understandably) GO and Roy. An update on LMA (I use LMA because LA reminds me too much of the Lakers) would be fantastic!

Beninportland said...

Ha ha ha -- I just realized that I wrote "Hi Mike" at the beginning of my previous post. My bad. Keep up the good work CASEY...

Harris said...

That's cool to hear Frye is doing well. The Knicks were stupid to trade him.

Player comparison at NBA Gauntlet. Wade is defeating Arenas. Mo Williams trade analysis coming soon.