Summer School: Tony Mitchell, Part II

Working with Drummond, under Wallace making a mark on Pistons rookie

Tony Mitchell
Tony Mitchell is already learning from his teammates.
Fernando Medina (NBAE/Getty)
It’s been amazing to get to come to the gym this summer and get to play against a guy like Andre Drummond and get to be coached by a guy like Rasheed Wallace. It’s just been amazing working with Drum and Sheed, teaching us the basics – how to set a screen, how to pick and pop, just different aspects of the game. It’s all been good.

Sheed was known for just knocking ’em down – a pick-and-pop guy who had a back-to-the-basket move, too. He had an arsenal. Yeah, I watched him a lot growing up.

In practice the other day, Dre got me about four or five times in a row. Sheed told me I was basically on his body too hard, so he spins off of me and he dunks the ball. You know how Dre is. He’s an athletic guy, so he’ll finish that every time. Sheed was like, I need to stop leaning on him so much. You can’t commit like that.

That’s how Sheed is. He spots things, little things like that, and points them right out. I pretty much knew that from Summer League, just from Sheed talking on the bench, that he’d be right there with little advice on all those kinds of things. Sheed’s a great coach, man. It’s been amazing to work with him. I love it.

He’s big on communication. Always. He’s always saying if our guy is setting a screen, he wants us to call out the rotation. He’s always talking to us about that.

I’ve been working on my free-throw shooting, my post moves, setting screens. I’ve been working a lot on my shot. Coach Maz is getting me right. It’s been good – good for all of us.

My jump shot has improved a lot. I give that credit to coach Maz, Maz Trakh. He’s been putting me in the gym and teaching me the right technique to get my jump shot right. It’s not just about getting up shots; it’s getting them up the same way all the time with the proper technique. It’s definitely technique – keeping your form and getting it up above that front rim. Coach Maz notices when I don’t keep my elbow in, different stuff like that. And Sheed is always telling me, “Straight up, straight down.” I used to have a little pause on my shot and now I’m shooting it at the top of my jump. It’s improved a lot.

I’ve been listening to what Arnie Kander, our strength coach, tells me, too. It’s about longevity of your career with Arnie – stretching, resting your body, warming up properly. Arnie is the best in the game. He’s a legend. I always listen to him. It’s a long season. He tells me to stretch, get in the cold tub – that’s something I don’t like – but I listen to Arnie and it’s gone well. I feel a little bit of a difference already in my hamstrings, doing different stretches to get them loosened up.

I just moved into my new apartment last week officially. I’m right there near KCP – he’s right above me – and Andre is my neighbor. It’s good to have those guys around. I’ve met some new teammates, Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings. Those guys have been working hard. They’ve been giving us tips and pointers about working hard and staying in shape, about training camp, telling us stories about staying ready for the season. It’s been cool.

Josh is a guy I’ve looked up to. He didn’t get that big contract for no reason. Josh is a really good guy and he’s going to do well for us. I’m happy he’s my teammate. Working out with these guys every day, I feel like I’m ready for training camp to start. Physically, I feel good. It’s going to be good to get going in a few weeks and start the season.