Musclewatch 2016: Media Day edition

Lang Whitaker

It’s the start of another NBA season, which can mean only one thing: MUSCLEWATCH 2016 IS HERE!

Before we get to the MUSCLES, what, you may ask, is MUSCLEWATCH? It began decades ago when my friend Matt and I noticed our local newspaper would always report that various NBA players had gained 15 pounds of MUSCLE in the off-season. It was never 12 pounds, never 16, never 9, never 18, but it always seemed to be “15 pounds of MUSCLE.” So we began keeping an eye on the news looking for references to the magic 15 pounds of MUSCLE. Over the years, MUSCLEWATCH became about more than just the “15 pounds of muscle” and more about guys who showed up for training camp having either gained or lost a bunch of weight.

I am proud to say, MUSCLEWATCH seems to have gone viral. I was inundated by the hashtag on Twitter yesterday, and doing some rudimentary MUSCELWATCH research this morning, I discovered that other sports have appropriated the idea. I am completely fine with this—MUSCLEWATCH may have been partially my creation, but really MUSCLEWATCH belongs to everyone.

Now, let’s do the heavy work…

• This year’s MUSCLEWATCH starts in Philly, where the Sixers have trusted the process the last few years and used this year’s first overall draft pick on Ben Simmons. While Simmons has always had an NBA-ready body, this summer he apparently dedicated himself to making a legendary MUSCLEWATCH splash, in this his rookie season.

From 217 to 250! I am no mathematician, but I believe that’s a gain of 33 pounds! And considering the Draft went down on June 23, this means Simmons packed on the pounds in almost exactly 3 months.

One question regarding Simmons that we should clarify, courtesy of our friend J.E. Skeets from NBA TV’s “The Starters.”

My ruling is this: Unless it is specified otherwise, we have to assume that the weight that is gained is MUSCLE, or at least mostly muscle. For instance, looking at photos of Simmons from yesterday, he certainly seems to be in terrific shape. So we will extend these players the benefit of the doubt, at least until proven otherwise.

• The other early contender for the MUSCLEWATCH crown appears to be up in Minnesota, where center Gorgui Dieng showed up significantly bigger than he was a year ago …

Hopefully more details surface in the coming days.

• Shoutout to Oklahoma City guard Cameron Payne, who got very specific when asked about his MUSCLEWATCH appearance. In an interview with The Oklahoman, Payne is clearly excited by his new frame…

“I put on 10 pounds of straight muscle. I’ve never had this muscle on me before so it feels great to have it, to look in the mirror, check out your biceps sometimes. It’s awesome. When I was in the boot, I was doing straight upper body. That’s what I needed coming into the season; I had to get stronger by any means. Being hurt actually helped me and I’m really proud I got to put on some weight.”

I love that Payne is so excited about his straight MUSCLE.

• Let’s put on our detective hats! Down in Houston, Rockets guard Patrick Beverley messed around and made MUSCLEWATCH. According to the Houston Chronicle, Beverley showed up at camp weighing 8 pounds less than his playing weight a year ago. OK, now let’s pay attention to this excerpt …

“Beverley said he plans to drop roughly five more pounds to play at 192 pounds. He said he cut out most carbohydrates from his diet and has been eating lean chicken and fish. He had lost 16 pounds before last season, but wanted to be 10 pounds lighter than last season.”

Someone check my math, but I think it shakes out like this: Beverley has lost 8 pounds, and wants to lose 5 more, which would make him 13 pounds less than he was last season. Add that to the 16 he lost last summer, and Beverley will have shed a total of 29 pounds over the last 15 months.

• Also in Houston, Clint Capela has added 10-12 pounds to his frame, just 3 pounds from true MUSCLEWATCH glory.

• In Sacramento, the Kings aren’t messing around—they apparently only deal with 20 pound blocks of MUSCLE.

• Andre Drummond says he has “shed about 20 pounds” and is in the best shape of his life. (Also, MUSCLEWATCH HQ would like to thank the Pistons for their support with the #DETROITMUSCLE hashtag on the side of Pistons.com.)

• MUSCLEWATCH goes international! Gary Harris has added 7 kilograms of MUSCLE…

According to my calculations, 7 kilos is the classic 15 pounds of MUSCLE. Complementi, Gary Harris!

• Up in Portland, Ed Davis has added significant size …

• This is a little vague, but according to Pelicans.com, longtime MUSCLEWATCH participant Anthony Davis has added “some strength” to his frame and now clocks in around 250 pounds, which would mean he’s up 30 pounds from his 2012 draft weight. Or one summer for Ben Simmons.

• Justise Winslow lost “5 to 10 pounds this summer.” Meanwhile, Devin Bookerfound those same pounds!

• James Jones may have lost his forearms in the offseason. Well, at least in NBA 2K…


Now idea how much that weighs, but it’s probably a significant MUSCLEWATCH development if true.

Finally, shoutout to the folks at Brew Hoop, who put together a Media Day bingo card featuring “15 pounds of muscle” in a prominent position.


We’ll be back with another update next week. In the meantime, tweet at me with #MUSCLEWATCH if you catch any MUSCLEWATCH news floating around out there…

Lang Whitaker has covered the NBA since 1998. You can e-mail him here or follow him on Twitter.

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