The 2015-2016 NBA season officially tips off Oct. 27, but for the athletes who comprise the rosters of the league's 30 teams, the work to prepare started this summer. When the dust settled on the Golden State Warriors' championship run back in June, it was time for the rest of the league to get into the gym and on to the court to improve both their game and their bodies for the upcoming season.
That is the work fans don't get to see—the behind-the-scenes summer grind that sets the stage for successes that may surprise you and me, but not the players and their trainers. STACK got in touch with two of the top trainers in the game of basketball to find out who really got after it this summer, and whose 2015-2016 season looks like it could be one of their personal best.
Drew Hanlen, NBA Skills Coach for Pure Sweat Basketball
Bradley Beal - Guard, Washington Wizards
"After a huge playoff run, Brad took a full month off to rest and recover in hopes of playing his first full season this year. Brad had a great summer that focused on the following areas: finishing around the rim—which includes finishing over secondary shot blockers, finishing against primary defenders with strength and finishing angles to improve options around the rim; minimizing long 2-point shots from his shot charts, focusing on the ability to create separation to generate more 3-pointers, as well as driving moves and angles to get to the basket more; and drawing more fouls to get to the free-throw line more for easy points. Look for him to do all three this season."
Dwight Howard - Center, Houston Rockets
"Some players might be satisfied with being an eight-time All-Star, but Dwight was as hungry as ever this summer. We worked on establishing better post position to provide deeper catches, tightened up footwork in the low post to get better at attacking different types of defenders, improved his touch with both hands on his hook shots, and completely changed his shot. This will allow him to knock down free throws for the first time in his career. Look for a huge year from Dwight."
Jordan Clarkson - Guard, Los Angeles Lakers
"After a first team All-Rookie season, Jordan trained with a chip on his shoulder all summer after being mostly discredited his rookie campaign, saying it was due to the fact that the Lakers were having a down season. Jordan's big focuses this summer were improving his balance on his shot to become more consistent beyond the arc, improving his pace and reads off the ball screen, and improving his touch and finishing options around the rim."
Andrew Wiggins - Guard, Minnesota Timberwolves
"Before the 2014 NBA Draft, most thought Andrew was a few years away from finding success in the league. He proved that he was more than ready to be a star in this league right away. Andrew dominated in the mid-post last season, so we looked to expand his versatility this summer by improving his handles and building a go-to perimeter game that included isolation and mid-range moves. We also worked on finishing around the rim and tweaked his use of legs and hips on his shot to provide more consistency from that range."
Cody Topper, NBA Director for Ganon Baker Basketball
Terry Rozier - Guard, Boston Celtics
Tyler Johnson - Guard, Miami Heat
"TJ spent this off-season working on transitioning from shooting guard to point guard, a move that would allow him to be a utility player for whatever situation was required. Understanding how to be a primary ball handler and orchestrate the offense is not easy, but the kid is the definition of a grinder. Seeing the floor to distribute and understanding how to use the pick and roll as a weapon for others was something we really emphasized. Additionally, we worked extensively on scoring at the rim through contact with an array of footwork to deceive rotating defenders. His 3-point shooting was also a major emphasis, especially from the corners and on the secondary action off a given possession. With his higher release, we are looking for his percentages to climb just like his reputation. There is no question he is ready to take the next step in his NBA career."
Johnny O'Bryant - Forward, Milwaukee Bucks
"Johnny made a significant step in the right direction with his off-season, focusing on transforming his body and simplifying his game. Leaning out and taking a big jump in his physical conditioning will allow him to sustain a high energy level for extended time on the court. By embracing the diet necessary to do so, he showed a great commitment to taking his next step. On the court, it was all about knowing your spots and keeping things simple. We worked on making Johnny into the type of player that can spearhead the Bucks' up-tempo game, which is run through the big man on the elbow. He can make quick and easy passing and shooting decisions that are immediately translatable. The second thing was extending his range in the corner, shooting off the catch and giving him some one and two-dribble attacking moves that he can use in space."
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