Q&A With Patrick Beverley
Rockets point guard discusses the merits of tireless work and the essential ingredients of a championship mindset
HOUSTON - It’s a tradition. Every August and September we try to catch up with the team’s players to find out what they’ve been up to as they unwind from the season before while simultaneously ramping up for the campaign to come. Last month Rockets.com’s Jason Friedman went one-on-one with Jeremy Lin, provided an exclusive look at Dwight Howard’s workouts with Hakeem Olajuwon, and caught up with sharpshooting rookie Isaiah Canaan and assistant coach J.B. Bickerstaff. Last week found rookie Robert Covington in the spotlight.
Taking his turn in the hot seat today: indefatigable point guard Patrick Beverley.
JCF: Have you taken any time off at all this summer? I feel like I’ve seen you either inside a gym or a weight room every single day since last season came to an end. At some point you have to rest and recharge, right?
PB: (laughs) I know. The coaching staff actually told me I need to take time off. So I think I’ve taken a total of 20 days off this summer – a day here or a day there just doing nothing. But other than that I’ve been working. I was in North Carolina early this summer doing two-a-days. I’ve been down there twice for that. I went to Orlando with the rookies for summer league and did two-a-days there. Most of the summer I’ve spent here in Houston working out.
I’ve been getting a lot of reps up trying to get stronger in the weight room so I can be ready for the 82-game season. I’ve just been grinding.
JCF: I feel like every athlete says something along the lines of, ‘Yeah, I put on 10 pounds of muscle during the offseason,’ but you actually do look legitimately bigger than you did at the end of last season.
PB: Yeah, I think that’s definitely the case. You know, with me coming over from Europe last year, right into the middle of NBA basketball against guys who’d been working on their bodies all summer, I felt like I was at a bit of a disadvantage at times. With Europe, it’s more of a finesse game so I really didn’t need the extra weight. I’ve been lifting five times a week this summer so I’ve gained about six or seven pounds of good weight.
That was my biggest thing: I play against a lot of bigger point guards and I didn't want to go into games this season where they outweigh me by 20 pounds. So I’ve tried to make it up in the weight room this summer.
JCF: Can you feel the difference when you’re playing pick-up games?
PB: Yeah, I feel stronger. I’m able to get to the hole and take some contact. Most of it is just being able to handle contact. When you’re in the middle of that long season, say around game 50, having that extra oomph in your body definitely helps.
JCF: What do you use to stay motivated during these marathon training sessions? When you first come into the league it’s obviously about sticking and making a name for yourself. Now that you’ve started to do that, what drives you?
PB: My story is all about proving myself, no matter what level I’m on. Me and my family and my friends, we’ve talked about how I’m not even supposed to be here. So now that I’m here, I want to stay for good, I want to make a name for myself, and try to help the Rockets organization win some basketball games – that’s the biggest key.
JCF: When you arrived here last December, there was obviously a great deal of unknown and uncertainty surrounding you, your role and how long you would last. Now that you’ve established yourself, do you feel more comfortable with regard to your role on this team?
PB: I still think I have to fight for everything. That’s one thing I never wanted to do in basketball is get comfortable. Of course I’m comfortable with the plays, my reads on the court and my teammates, but just getting complacent, that’s never a good thing because once you get complacent someone else is always behind you working that much harder to get your position.
It’s always been a grind for me. That’s why I’ve worked so hard and that’s why I’ve worked with so many great players this summer like Steph Curry in North Carolina and in LA with James (Harden) and Dwight (Howard). But wherever I go, it’s all about work for me. Like my mom always says: you get out what you put in.
JCF: When fans see you in training camp and preseason, what do you think they’ll see about you that’s markedly different than the last time they saw you out on the court?
PB: I think they’ll see me more in attack mode. When you come to a new team, especially in the middle of the season, you don't want to come in and be ball dominant. So this year you’re going to see me attack more and stay aggressive over the course of the game. Everything else will fall into place. I understand the offense isn’t going to be run through me so I’m going to have to do all the little things to help chip in points here and there.
JCF: I know you’ve played with just about everyone on the roster at various points of the summer – some guys you’ve obviously seen more than others – but who’s stood out and impressed you the most?
PB: I’d say Reggie Williams. Greg Smith is in incredible shape and a beast, and I’ve been playing with Terrence Jones all summer, but the guy I’ve played with who’s surprised me is Reggie. People don’t really see what he does off the court. He’s an extremely hard worker. We spent some time in Chicago together and worked out a lot together. I’m excited to have him.
JCF: What’s impressed you about him?
PB: He’s just a scorer. He wasn't able to show that the last couple of years in Charlotte, but people got a glimpse of how he can score when he was in Golden State. I see how hard he works and he’s really been a standout to me.
JCF: Has the summer helped to put some time and distance between you and being public enemy No. 1 in Oklahoma City?
PB: No, I think it’s just starting to be honest. I’m sure I’m going to feel the heat coming out the tunnel every time I play there. So I think that’s only just getting started.
JCF: For so many reasons, it does seem like Thunder-Rockets has the potential to be the next compelling NBA rivalry. From a fan perspective, those kind of rivalries are awesome. How do you approach it from the perspective of a player?
PB: Everyone knows that the tension is there. You’ve got to stay focused on the task at hand and that’s winning basketball games. I think, for us, we’re doing a better job understanding as a team and as a unit what it takes to win basketball games. I think we got a much better idea of that during the playoffs. But this is basketball. This is fun. It’s supposed to be. It’s a fun rivalry between two really good teams and, as a player, that atmosphere is what you live for.
JCF: And I guess it also helps that nothing you experience in the NBA is ever going to compare to what you encountered during the rivalry games in Europe.
PB: (laughs) Yeah, not at all. It’s two different games. Europe has by far the most hostile crowds I’ve ever played in.
JCF: I think everyone knows this team is going to score. So for the Rockets to become a true title contender the biggest area of improvement likely lies on the defensive side of the ball. You’ve got two of the best defensive bigs in the NBA now so from a perimeter player’s perspective, what are you focusing on when you’re out there to be able to help out those bigs and, by extension, help this team become a top-10 defensive unit?
PB: I talked to Coach Sampson a lot this summer and I told him I want to try to take it upon myself to be that defensive captain this year. I understand when I’m out there it starts with me on the ball. I’m not going to try to pretend I’m going to control the whole defense – of course not – we have Dwight Howard who’s phenomenal, Omer who’s phenomenal, Marcus Camby who is older but still a great defensive player, Ronnie Brewer who is a great defensive player, and Francisco (Garcia) showed a glimpse of that in the playoffs last year guarding Kevin Durant.
But I have to pick my role and my role right now is to be that defensive guy who sets the tone on the player who has the ball the most and that’s the point guard. That’s my focus. I’m taking the title of defensive captain very seriously and that’s my main focus going into training camp.
I’m going to work as hard as I can possibly work. Everyone knows that. For me it’s all about winning games. I’ve played on great teams. I was with the Heat in training camp, I played on some great European teams and I know what it takes to win. It doesn’t just take five guys or five stars – it takes a team. It goes from the main players – James and Dwight – all the way down to the last player or the last film guy or the last ball boy or whoever. It’s a collective unit.
I know the kind of mindset a good basketball team needs to have: whether you’re starting or not, you have to make sure you’re a big part of this team whether it’s with defense or an energy spark off the bench or whatever the case may be. Whatever my team needs from me, I’m going to be there for them. That’s what all of this work is for.