Summer School: DaJuan
Whirlwind off-season includes basketball in China, Vegas return trip
We played a game in Beijing and one in Taiwan. I got some good work in. Yao brought a couple of trainers over there and we had a good time. I’ve never been outside of North America, so it was good to see China.
We were there for 10 or 11 days. The two games were nowhere near what we do here, but the workouts were good. It was myself, Amir Johnson, Brandon Jennings, Hasheem Thabeet, Baron Davis, Luke Babbitt … Steve Nash came out a few times, too. We had a good set of guys. Brandon Jennings and I had some good one-on-one workouts. We were two of the better defenders there and he’s ultracompetitive like me, so it was fun doing one-on-one drills with Brandon.
After China, I came straight back to the States and went to Vegas for Tim Grgrich’s camp – he’s an assistant coach for Denver who runs this camp every year for lots of NBA players – then went back to Baltimore for a day and came right back out here to move into my new place. I’ll be here for the rest of the summer, maybe in and out a little bit, but for the most part I’ll be here getting settled into the house. And getting focused. This is a big season – a very big season, personally and as a team. A lot of changes need to happen from last year, so I’m trying to be in the forefront, leading by example and not talking about it.
I know we are bringing Tracy McGrady in. We’ve got a lot of guards and forwards, so we’ll see how it works out. Anybody who is about winning is an asset to the team, so that’s the main agenda. It will be fun to see how it all works out.
I was a fan of his game when I was coming up – the posterizing he did to people, dunking on them, and the incredible jump shot he had, I was definitely a fan of his game. I know people say we have a logjam at those positions now, but I can’t worry about that. This is a business. At the end of the day, being cognizant of that and doing your job the best way you can every day, that usually works itself out.
From a team standpoint, getting back to Summer League for a minute, we had a couple of injuries to Austin and Jonas, so we couldn’t perform to the level we performed to last year. I thought I performed well, for the most part. I worked on some things – getting more to the rim, being aggressive. My shot has always been good, so I’m just trying to create more consistency with that.
When I drive, when I see the lane, I tried to make the best out of getting to the rim. I always know I can get a shot off. Even if the shot clock is under five seconds, you can get a shot off in one second. It’s having that mental maturity to understand that my size is one of my best attributes. It’s a process. I’m used to playing fast. It’s just natural – it’s my way of playing. The NBA game is faster but slower – it’s an interesting dynamic. You’ve got to slow down sometimes, but move faster.
Greg Monroe, my old teammate at Georgetown, it was big for him when Austin and Jonas went down, I think, as far as showing his repertoire and getting more touches in the paint, as far as him feeling like he didn’t need to rush his first couple of shots to prove a point. Just knowing that the ball was going to keep coming to him. I kept telling him that throughout the game, too. “You know we’re going to run plays for you, just relax.” Once he started to figure that out, you saw what happened. He started to score, to pass – the things he normally does. His game opened up.
I hope all our Pistons fans are having a good summer so far. I’ll check back again before training camp opens.