He's been known to hit game-winners. He’s one of Nate McMillan's go-to players off the bench. And when Brandon Roy is unavailable, he’s the first option in the clutch. But nevertheless, Travis Outlaw still isn’t satisfied.
“I ain’t happy with my game,” said Outlaw. “I’m always looking to improve.”
But it’s not more shots that he’s looking for. Or more playing time. Or even more money. What Outlaw is looking for is something rarely associated with his game: he’s looking for the extra pass.
“Sometimes the first pass you see will be the pass to the assist,” explains Outlaw. “So instead of trying to make a homerun play, I’m trying to just pass it to the passer.
“Say, for instance, I catch it in my sweet spot and then I get to the dotted line. Then it’s okay to make the pass to Rudy. But say I catch it on the block and the dude comes from Rudy but Blake has pulled over. In that situation, it’s best to give it to Blake. I’ve got to give it to Blake and Blake can give it to Rudy. See what I’m saying?”
It’s an interesting goal, especially coming from a player who is known for his willingness to put up just about any shot on the floor. It could even be considered a sign of growth in his sixth NBA season. But making the pass to the assist doesn’t necessarily mean Outlaw is going to stop looking for his shot. Far from it. In fact, the desire to find the open man has spurred Outlaw to work on improving his shot selection.
“I’m going to quit trying settle for the jumper,” said Outlaw. “Now my thing is trying to get two people to start playing me. If I can get two people to start playing me, you know, then I can get someone else a wide-open shot. When I catch it on the block, they coming to a stopper down, so now my thing is to make them go and commit. If I can make them commit, then I can probably get Blake or Rudy, someone out there in the corner, an easier shot.”
“I don’t play against two, you know? Only a couple of people in the league can play against two.”
It’s a surprising admission from a player known for his ability to get off shots, and when pressed further, it becomes clear that Outlaw does think he can get his against a double team, but now, he doesn’t consider it such a good idea.
“I mean, I can play against two if I want,” jokes Outlaw, “but we got too good of a team for me to do that. Scoring is something I do. You look at my game, I’m definitely scoring, but we got too good of guys for me to take that poor of a shot. But trust me; I can get it off against two.”
Making the extra pass instead of shooting or not taking two defenders off the dribble might be a change for a guy like Outlaw, but it’s an adjustment that he’s more than willing to make.
“I’ll always sacrifice for winning. I ain’t ever been to the playoffs, so if we’re talking playoffs, trust me, I’ll make the sacrifice.”
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