Summer School: Austin

Austin Daye packs on 5 pounds and settles into Vegas for a summer of hard work

Austin Daye has spent a bulk of his summer working out with strength trainers, which has paid off as he's packed on five extra pounds.
Allen Einstein/NBAE/Getty Images
Editor’s note: will track the off-seasons of 2009 draft choices Austin Daye, DaJuan Summers and Jonas Jerebko as they prepare for their second seasons with the Pistons. In this installment, Austin Daye tells editor Keith Langlois that he recently settled in Las Vegas to work with his trainer, Joe Abunassar.

When the season ended about two months ago, I went back home to LA and took about two weeks off. I thought my body would be beat up after 82 games, but the fact that there were stretches where I didn’t play as much as I did – I was getting some minutes toward the end of the season and I’d gotten a lot of minutes earlier, when we had all the injuries – is really going to help me this summer.

I thought my body would be hurting a little more than it did, actually. But with AAU and college, you’re playing so many games. It’s not the NBA, I know that. Eighty-two games is 82 games, but I’ve been playing a lot of basketball for a lot of years, so it didn’t take me as long to feel like getting back in the gym. I was working out before everyone else. While everyone else was on vacation, I feel like I was already working out and that’s going to help me.

In LA, I was working out under Joe Abunassar, my trainer, who spends that time of year in Los Angeles working out college players before the draft. That’s what I did a year ago, work out with Joe. I just moved to Vegas last week, got my own apartment, because this is the time of year Joe moves to Vegas to spend the summer working out NBA players like Tayshaun and Chauncey Billups. It was a great experience for me last summer and I’m looking forward to it again this summer.

So I’m basically just following Joe and also working out with my nutritionist and weight trainer, Chuck Williams. Everybody always wants to know if I’m gaining weight. I’ve gained 5 pounds since the season ended and I’m up to 205 now. A lot of it has to do with nutrition. I was eating a lot of food during the season but not always eating the right food, eating a lot of sandwiches instead. Now I’m trying to eat a lot of salmon and steak, foods high in protein, to help me gain weight more quickly, and I’m lifting every day.

I’ve been working out with one of the other trainers here, but now I want to get with Joe one on one, so I just lift with him. He gets on me and makes sure I finish out my lifts.

I have three things I do every day: shoot, lift and play. Every morning, I’m up, I eat breakfast and I head over to the gym. Then it depends what I’m doing that day. I usually get in the gym by 9:30 and my workout starts at 10. I’ll work out for an hour and 15 minutes, head for a light lunch, come back and we’ll play five on five and then I’ll lift. I’m usually the last one in the gym. I’m thinking about changing the routine up and lifting first, then shooting and then playing.

I’m working hard at building my body up so I can look the part a little bit better – doing lots of squats, things like that, so my body can make a change. Getting stronger would help. Not because I couldn’t play or make certain plays, but it would make it that much easier to do it all the time if I was just a little stronger. I think I could do all the same things, just do it with a little more ease if I was stronger.

I don’t think my weight has stopped me from getting to the basket or has allowed people to push me off my spot, but adding strength will only help with my potential and my progress. I have noticed some difference already. I was working out with Al Harrington today – he’s a big, strong guy – and he wasn’t really bumping me off my spot. I’ve had this body for a long time and it hasn’t stopped me from scoring or blocking shots, but it can only help to just get a little bit stronger and that’s what I’m going to do this summer.

I think I’ll be going back to Auburn Hills later this month to see coach Kuester and then I’ll be coming back to Vegas for Summer League and stay out here for the rest of the summer to work out with Joe.

I have talked to Joe Dumars and he told me to be ready to play at shooting guard in the Summer League. Honestly, it really doesn’t matter to me as long as I’m out there playing. It can only help me because I’ll have to get low and guard a smaller guy and they’ll put me in the post, in the low block or the pinch post, if I’m playing against shorter guys.

I’m a lot more comfortable going into Summer League this year just because I’ve experienced everything once now. The more you get exposed to something, the more comfortable you’re going to be around it. The NBA game is something I’m more comfortable with and understand better than I did a year ago and I’m excited to get going again.