Offseason Workouts - J.B. Bickerstaff
We spoke to Wolves assistant coach J.B. Bickerstaff to get his analysis after watching several Wolves work out voluntarily at Target Center.
MT: Coming back to Minnesota after serving as an assistant coach in Charlotte for the last few years, what have you seen thus far watching these offseason workouts?
John-Blair Bickerstaff: I think we have a bunch of young guys who are willing to compete, and to start, that's what you need. You need guys who are going to get on the floor and go get after it every night, and this group of guys is willing to do that. I also think that if you blend in veteran players like Ricky Davis it helps you, because it gives you some experience. We had a (similar situation) down in Charlotte, with a bunch of young guys, but we needed a guy to give the ball to at the end of the game. You can give Ricky the ball at the end of the game and he can go get you a basket. I think you mix those young, competitive guys with the veteran experience and you have a fun bunch to watch.
MT: And Charlotte just brought Jason Richardson in to fulfill that role.
JB: Exactly, and it took them three years to get to that point. We had guys like Gerald Wallace, who developed into a guy you could give the ball to.
MT: Not to mention that he's a great fantasy player...
JB: (Laughs). Right. But here, I think we're a leg up on where we were in Charlotte, both because of the continuity we have and also because we have guys you can give the ball to at the end of games.
MT: Just sitting and watching these young guys argue about every call and lock in on every possession in a regular offseason scrimmage, you can really sense the level of competition these guys possess. But is it any different on any other NBA team?
JB: For the most part, guys want to compete ... especially at this level. Guys are great talents, but to get to the NBA you have to be a pretty competitive person. I think it's good to see because it does translate to the game, and it also helps to have guys that have won: Randy Foye won in college, Rashad McCants won in college, and Corey Brewer/Chris Richard won in college. These guys have winning attitudes, and that's important.
MT: Right, that's six national titles between those guys. Alas, what have you seen from the former Celtics thus far? Jefferson, Gomes and Telfair are here today...
JB: Al Jefferson is a guy who you can give the ball to on the block, and he'll make things happen for you. He can draw double teams, he has the ability to pass out of the post, and I think any time you can work from inside-out, it helps your offense. Guys then have to double-team, and you have a mismatch somewhere. Ryan is just a really good basketball player; he can do a little bit of everything. He's smart, he can put it on the floor, he can make open shots and he's a matchup nightmare, because he's big and strong. He's too big for most threes to guard, but he's too quick for most fours to guard. He brings a lot of versatility to the table. Sebastian is a point guard that knows how to play that position, knows how to make his teammates better. He does a real good job of getting in the paint and creating things, and in this game, if you look at the point guard position -- guys like Tony Parker and Steve Nash -- they get in the paint. That's what Sebastian does a good job of doing.
MT: You've played basketball, analyzed basketball on the radio and now coached basketball. So you're seeing things from a few different perspectives now...
JB: It helps you see the overall picture. You don't just see it from one of those perspectives. Having played, watched and coached so much basketball, you understand how to talk to players, relate to players, how to analyze the game and how to teach the game. Hopefully all of those things will help me become a better coach and reach my goals as a coach.
MT: In terms of these offseason workouts, since they're all voluntary you're as coaches allowed to work with players. The NBA just mandates that you can't have required practice time?
JB: Yes, it's all voluntary. Guys come in because they want to work, and we're here to work with them. But you just let the guys play, and the more they play, the better they become. It's good for these guys to get to know their teammates. The fact that they're in here early and they're committed to being here says a lot about what they're trying to accomplish.
MT: OK coach, thanks for the time.