Both Quin Snyder and Dennis Lindsey have compared the Jazz to a running team in football, with a defensive front line that makes it somewhat of an anomaly in the NBA. Would you agree with that assessment?
Yeah, I would. I, you know, I really feel that the team is, and, what I’m, I think this team as well, is a team that can run well, but also play well together, and really be a team that is not gonna beat you individually, but it’s gonna beat you collectively.
And as I’m watching us play, I’m very impressed by the efforts of — Quin has done a masterful job of really building an offense, that maximizes the talents of the team collectively and not individually.
With the different options that can come out of there, with our offense, I, we’re making some adjustments that really — Quin is focusing on more offensive efficiency for us this coming year, and continued improvement that we showed that we had defensively.
And the players have bought into that, and I think if we can continue to step up our game, I really feel like, you know, you talked about this running at teams, I think we can run at them and com–at them both offensively and defensively, that’s gonna make us continue to be better.
Can you see the Jazz playing with a point guard-less lineup this year?
Well, I know that Quin came over to me last week and we were both commenting and looking at the improvements that we’ve seen from Alec Burks, and him continuing to be a year older, and going through what he went through with his injury, and coming out, strong as he is.
And watching, also, Rodney Hood, and both commenting, hey, I think there’s gonna be times that we see them both on the floor together. And I could see that happening.
So I think based on lineups that we see in the NBA, if there’s a taller guard lineup, I think we could very easily see Alec and Rodney on the floor together. I think if there’s a sma–those smaller lineups, there may be times that we see our smaller guards out there as well.
Tibor Pleiss is very tall. What are the possibilities for him?
Well, you, to take Tibor, I mean, right on the bubble of making this team as well is Jeff Witty,* and the, I mean, you’ve got some tall timber there between, well, now you’re looking at Rudy, Tibor, and you know, Jeff Witty.*
There’s some impressive heights there, and I’ve been very impressed with Tibor as he’s come into the season. We’ve gotta continue to get him stronger, and I’ll tell you. Rudy has done that very thing. I’ve been very impressed with the conditioning that he’s added.
Rudy has added 2 inches to his reach because he’s added 2 inches of stren–of definition to his upper body, and his shoulders, and it’s given him, actually, 2 more inches of hi–of reach because of that. So, that’s what really conditioning and strengthening your body can do for these players.
So, we’re, I’m excited about what that can mean. I’m excited what it can mean for us o–both on the offensive glass as well as on the defensive, of presence, and shot-blocking, for this team.
* Is this how “Withey” is pronounced? *shrug*
The NBA announced changes to its replay rules today. Will there be any more rule changes this year?
No, I think we just experienced, that’s gonna be the last change that we’ll see coming into this season, and that we’ll have during the season. Traditionally, we’ve tried to vote on those things even much sooner than, as we have this one, within literally, the last week we did that, the vote on that one.
That’s gonna be a good move, though, I think. It’s really going to, we are very much in favor of it. It’s gonna help speed up the game. Tho–with the new cameras that we have in place, with that central control that we have with the NBA, they can immediately look at those and determine those calls much quicker than waiting for the officials to come over, bring the TV up, and have the T–the officials on site make those calls.
So, I, we really feel that’s good for our fans, to speed up the play, but make, get the accurate call so that the game is being accurately assessed on what’s truly happened there. So, we’re very much in favor of it, but I don’t think, we will not see any other moves.
If we do, I’ll be shocked. Traditionally, that’s, at this point, we’re now ready to now get them in play and make sure that we then can get the officials and the coaches and players knowing exactly what the rules are going into the season. (1280)
** David Locke on Rudy Gobert (pictured above): Do I have something looming behind me?
** Locke to Bryce Cotton: Do you feel different today coming into this than you did a year ago?
** Locke to Cotton: There are times when being 6 inches shorter than somebody else hurts you. (H/T @5kl)
**Media to Elijah Millsap: Do you think that you’ll feel comfortable if coach [Quin] Snyder wants to use you in a bigger variety of ways?
** Millsap on keeping the NBA dream alive: I always just looked at the adversity and just tell myself, you know, if I just get up one more time, you know, no matter what happens, you never know how close it can be.
** Locke to Millsap: Two visuals that jumped into my mind. One was in Chicago…You got in on Derrick, I think, Derrick Rose, in kind of a level that was, “I don’t give a crap who you are.” And then the other was [Kevin] Durant, that you got in on. What is their reaction when you’re into them in a way that maybe no other players in the NBA would?
** Ron Boone on defense: All you can do there is just make it hard for them.
** Joe Ingles on being the team’s go-to inbounder: I think some people get a bit more nervous than I do in that kind of situation, and it’s one of those things that you have to get it in.
** Ingles on Dante Exum: I think his mom actually got me printed out on his bedspread, so you know, he actually slept on top — uh…
** Media to Tibor Pleiss: How, like, your size. Where does it come from?
** Locke on himself talking: Derrick [Favors] is heading over this direction, so I probably won’t finish.
** Locke to Gordon Hayward: You got big again.
** Locke to Alec Burks on his rim and 3-point shooting percentage: Put that together in an Alec Burks stew, and I’ve got a big-time stud going on.
** Locke to Burks: I’ve got a deep one for you. (H/T @5kl)
** Locke to Trevor Booker on his broken nose and mask: Do the kids go and bang you in the face to see if it hurts?
** Booker on the integration of playing with the ball in his hands into his game: Slowly. I’m not gonna try to, you know, just jump right into it. You gotta slowly get there, you know? I mean, I am getting up there in age, so I can’t take too much time, but you know, I’m working my way in.
** Boone to Dennis Lindsey: You got 20 guys in camp. Obviously, you wanted to plug the holes.
** Lindsey, responding to Boone: Yes, sir. So, some of the holes, I think, will be plugged with players that are returning, most notably Alec Burks…Some of the holes will be plugged with the players that we had last year. Like, you could, with what Gordon and Derrick are working on in particular, I could see their roles expanding even more. Certainly, Rudy’s unique development, there’s gonna be some things that we wanna capitalize, with his size and length and presence. But with the newcomers, specifically we like Raul [Neto]’s head and imagination…And Tibor is big, right? He’s really big, and he’s really youn–long…We pinch ourselves and count our blessings every day that we have two 7-foot-plus guys with these extraordinary dimensions.
** Lindsey on offensive rebounding: Bigs gotta come over and help. They get off Rudy and Derrick and Trevor’s body. Then they can go in and clean it up.
On his body
I was tipping the scales way too much, way too high at the end of last year…I’ve dropped about 20 [pounds] here. I’ve moved — back to football vernacular, I’ve moved from an inside linebacker to an outside linebacker. I’m moving towards a strong safety. I don’t think I’ll ever get back to a cornerback.
On Tibor Pleiss’ body
He’s 25, but really if you look at his body, it’s more 21, 22.
On Derrick Favors’ body
Derrick’s body is, you know, literally, he’s been touched by the hand of God, with his physical dimensions.
On the Jazz’s point guard rotation
We have three young point guards. Four, but Dante [Exum]’s out. The production has to get better, but Trey [Burke]’s 22 and has significant experience in the league. P3, Mark McKown has named him our most improved player in the off-season. Not only is he more athletic, he’s a safer athlete…
Bryce Cotton has very unique speed and explosive scoring ability that we hope to capitalize on…He was here all summer.
Raul Neto, again, is heady. He’s strong. He’s very good laterally. He plays with very good imagination. First thing that he said to me in summer league when he was watching Rodney Hood play, he’s like, “Hey Dennis, I can get him the ball in areas that he can really score.” And that’s a little bit different mentality than Trey has. And certainly, Bryce is more of a scoring option. So to have that mindset, all very complementary…
We have $7 million under the cap. We’ve built up an asset base. If the point guard position or frankly any of the other positions can’t handle — if the internal improvement isn’t fast enough relative to the team, then we’ll go look outside. But we think that’s premature at this stage.
Does Rudy Gobert need to be bigger to reach his potential?
I think everybody has their natural physique, and with athletes, they’re, literally, they’re race cars. Their bodies are finely tuned…You want to optimize athleticism, right? That’s a big poin–part of what you do, but by and large, these guys are the best of the best.
If we did nothing else and we just made our guys safer, safer athletes when they land and stop, I think that’s a huge win because this, the league is not about winning any one game. It’s about being the last team standing. …
There’s a natural design that not only optimizes [Gobert’s] movement and his strength, but his safety, and we have to think about that.
So, there’re many things that, components of being a center in the NBA. Not only do you want to be a shot-blocker…but you want to create a physical perimeter around the rim. So, that strength factor, I think we can continue to help Rudy and Tibor [Pleiss] on, moving forward. And, but does that necessarily mean we have to bulk him up? Absolutely not…
The Spurs clearly have looked at what they wanted to do relative to perenially being a contender and being the last team standing concept, instead of winning any one game. And you’ve seen how they’ve managed Tim Duncan. Tim, in many ways, probably should’ve been done years ago.
And again, really, Coach [Jerry] Sloan started it all. I’m sure there was, without reading about it, a bunch of angst about “You’re taking John [Stockton] out when? You know, right when we’re rolling?” And “Hey, can you extend him a little bit?” And, but Coach had a bigger vision in mind.
Now, I’m not sure Coach knew that [Stockton] was gonna get to 41, 42 years old and be in, still playing at 90 percent of his highest peak value, but really, in many ways, Coach Sloan ushered in the management of players with how he treated John and Karl [Malone].
On his snazzy suit
A little Euro look.
What one aspect of the game did you think the most about this off-season?
Switching defenses. It’s become very–tea–because teams are starting to play more and more small, they’re capable of switching one through four. People don’t really switch with their five. But you see it — we do it some with [Derrick] Fav[ors], because even though he’s big, he’s so long and he’s, you know, he’s athletic and quick.
But we don’t have a team offensively that just spaces the floor and attacks. We’re motion, actions, movement, screening. So I think there’s some things that we’ve thought about to try to help us attack that.
The other thing, frankly, is just defensively, what along this process of putting a recipe together, you know, trying to be very acutely aware of how much of which thing, and where the emphasis lie, because the process of building a defense, you know, y–it’s not like you start over. But where is the emphasis and where is it most important? …
It’s a little bit, like, you know, a recipe where you’re, you know, you’re cooking and you’re not writing everything down, but you write as much as you can down along the way.
And we watch film. And you start seeing what your guys are doing, and you go back to the communication system. And I think the most important thing is just the general emphasis on the identity and taking pride in being a team that does play that way. And then within that, our players gotta embrace the habits.
It’s different — it’s a little different for everybody. Rodney Hood is unbelievable off the ball. You know, our point guards this year need to be better on the ball, to f–have that be a little bit more of a weapon.
So, there’s a lot of things that — but we’ll try to be systematic in how we approach it so that it’s clear. It’s w–it’s not habitual yet…It’s still new, so we gotta make sure that we stay committed to it, and we keep working on it.
What are this year’s catchphrases?
Disruptive. You know, disciplined disruption. I think I’d like to see that for our team defensively.
You know, offensively, it’s more complicated, but I think force. I’d like to see more aggression towards the basket, whether it be cutting, driving the ball — you know, but that, the forcefulness of our team with which, the way we play offense, even if it’s in the half court, I think that will help us not make as many mistakes on offense.
Saying “don’t turn it over” sometimes isn’t enough…No one wants to turn the ball over, so you try to figure out, you know, how can we play that will help us be more efficient and not do that. And I think force is a big part of it. I think screening, cutting, kinda old-school-grind-it-out, it’s who we are.
On his coaching staff
I think we really saw an impact this summer, where we, you know, we invested as an organization in a couple additional people. Jeff Watkinson, who’s an assistant coach, worked a lot with Johnnie Bryant this summer in integrating our entire player development program. And it was very well done, very well organized, very efficient. Planned, but not over-planned, where I think the players were working on the right things, and they’ve embraced it.
Igor Kokoskov — and Alex Jensen, as well — but Igor coached the Georgian national team this summer…We’ve got some good people. The guys that are already here are very good, and have gotten to know me. I’ve gotten to know them, so I think there’s a real synergy on our staff…
You know, the command that some of the assistants have for our defense is, helps me, the level of teaching that they’re capable of doing.
How’s the hip?
Could be better.
Why is this team the right fit for you?
It’s a team that believes in me. You know, everybody has their right fit in the NBA. You know, it’s a great organization. The city is great; family-oriented. It’s great for my family. It’s just a perfect fit for me.
What were your thoughts watching Draymond Green play in the Finals?
My honest thought? That could be me. You know, he’s a good player. He’s very diverse. He can, you know, guard multiple positions. He can shoot the 3-ball, which is something I’m trying to do. He rebounds the ball. And he got paid. A lot.
There’s only one area where he’s statistically significantly superior to you. Do you know what it is?
Assists. Would you be able to get assists in the same way?
If I was given the opportunity, I think so. You know, Steph Curry, you know, he doesn’t need much time to shoot the ball, so if you pass it to him with somebody in his face, that might be an assist right there. Klay Thompson the same way. So, he’s a pretty lucky guy.
Who is your favorite superhero?
I like the Hulk, ’cause he smashes everything.
How are you approaching the new season?
I’m approaching it mus–much more serious now. You know, I’m starting to, you know, feel more like a professional now. You know, I think when I came in, you know, I felt like, you know, I could just, you know, play basketball like I always played basketball. You know, but now I’m learning the ins and outs — or not learning; I’ve learned the ins and outs.
You know, eating right, s–it’s funny because I’m getting to bed, like, around 11, 11:30 now, and I’ve never, ever done that. But I feel so much better in the morning. Like to–like right now, I have so much energy. It’s incredible. So I think those little things go a long way, especially in a 82-game season. You know, they play a big part, you know, in how you play and you know, how your body holds up.
On staying professional when he’s been asked to change roles
For me, I wanted to, you know, be the guy who, you know, had the energy still, you know, even when coach axed me, you know, to come off the bench.
You know, I still wanted to, you know, be that guy who was like a leader, who was like a, you know, a strong piece for the team rather than, you know, the team looking at me as, you know, well, he’s a selfish guy because, you know, we could tell he’s mad he’s not starting. You know, and that’s just how I wanted to handle myself. And coach, you know, thanked me for that, you know, for handling myself that way. …
The way I was raised, I was already naturally able to handle, you know, being axed that. But it was me as well. It was the things that I was doing off the court holding me back as well. And then I, you know, I just had to sit back and realize, or sit back and make decisions on, you know, what type of player I wanted to be and then ask myself what sacrifices do I want to make.
And you know, a lot of those things had to be, like, food. Had to be, you know, certain activities. You know, certain, you know, just all type of things…Just the small things, and the ins and outs of the NBA game.
Do you go into training camp expecting to start at point guard?
I’m not going to go into it just know–thinking that I’m gonna start at point guard. You know, I know it’s a battle, you know, a competition, so that’s how Imma go into it. You know, but I’m a competitor, so you know, that’s just, you know, second nature to me and you know, I look forward to, you know, competing, you know, with the team tomorrow — or going into training camp practicing with the team.
And then when we get to competing, look forward to competing, you know, with the team. You know, not just competing, you know, with Raul [Neto] or Bryce [Cotton], but you know, competing, you know, with whoever’s on the other team, you know, in training camp.
Is there any way to remedy the shooting lapses you had last year?
I think some of that comes with, you know, sometimes last year — I felt like I lost confidence a little bit last year. You know, I think now where I am, you know, I know you can’t lose confidence in this league. You know, you can’t allow that to affect you — or one night to affect you at all…
Preparation is something that I’m, you know, getting much better at right now. So I think that’s the biggest thing, is just making sure I’m getting my reps in before and after practice, and you know, just going from there.
On playing for Quin Snyder
He’s honest and real with you, you know? You gotta, you can take that or not, you know, and I respect that for him, ’cause, you know, he’s a great guy, you know, on and off the court.
Does it matter to you whether you start or Rodney Hood starts?
You know, at the end of the day, you know, everybody wanna be a starter, you know, that comes in this league. But you know, it’s up to coach Q. You know, we all gon fight hard. Me, Rodney, Gordon [Hayward], Elijah [Millsap], all the wings. Joe [Ingles]. We all gon fight hard no matter who start, who finish, all that. You know, we gon play hard ’til the game’s over.
On his shoulder
I got hit on the first day by my, by Trey [Burke? Lyles? Graham?]. You know, he hit me. It was in Santa Barbara, and I thought it was over. But you know, I bounced back up. The shoulder’s good. So, that showed me I was good…It was more mental thing than physical thing at that time.
Where are you now compared to where you were before the surgery?
I think I’m better than I was, you know, [before] the injury ’cause you know, I couldn’t lift my shoulder…I couldn’t lift my left arm, so I feel like I’m…a better player, you know, better person, you know, from the injury. So you know, I can’t wait to gel back with my teammates.
Who is your favorite superhero?
Man, I ain’t really into that.
** Was cleared for contact two weeks ago
What did you work on this summer?
Right now, I feel 100 percent healthy. You know, ready to get going. This summer, I add a lot to my game. You know, I got, I’m handling the ball better. It’s some little things in my shot that I kinda tweaked a little bit to make it more, not necessarily [more] consistent, but more fluid shot.
And then, you know, just working on pick-and-roll passing. Just my overall game. I even added a little bit of post game and you know, it’ll progress throughout the season.
On competing with Alec Burks for minutes
I mean, I think it’s enough minutes for everybody. You know, and it’s just, you just competing against each other, it’ll make each other better…When I was playing and Alec was hurt, you know, he was helping me along the whole time, and giving me confidence and the same thing vice versa.
You know, I, and it’s a good problem to have. The better I am, the better he is, the better Gordon [Hayward] — whoever, you know, the better the Jazz are. So it’s, I like it, you know, to be honest.
What did you work on this summer?
I just kept adding, you know, range to my jump shot. Just different offensive moves in the post, mid-range area, free throw line area. You know, just trying to expand my game. You know, I know Rudy’s gonna be down low a lot, so, and the way the NBA’s going, you know, everybody wants that stretch-four type of a guy.
So you know, I’m still working on that, but as of right now just continuing to improve my post game, my offensive moves. And you know, I’ve been working on different shots, you know, around the basket, around the free throw line area, that’ll give me the opportunity to, you know, make more plays.
I have to listen to certain songs before the game starts…I have a certain playlist that I go to, probably 10 minutes before we gotta meet in the locker room, that I have to listen to before the game, or I won’t have a good game.
First impression of Joe Ingles?
When Joe first came, he was, like, one of those guys that you see who…you see guys and you’re like, can this guy really play basketball? You seen, like, “White Men Can’t Jump”? That’s Joe. Yeah, yeah, that’s Joe. Yeah, we got on the court with training–not training camp, practice, whatever, and he was making all these plays, passes. Making all these shots. And you’re like, man, this guy can, he can play a little bit.
What was the funnest thing you did during your summer vacation?
Gordon had it easy. He had one [kid]. Yeah, I got two. So you know, it’s a fun process. You know, waking up in the middle of the night, gotta feed them, change them. You’ve gotta sit through the crying. I mean, it’s a challenge, but you know, it’s fun at the same time, and you know, I wouldn’t change anything. I wouldn’t trade it for nothing in the world.
On the birth of his twins
I was actually out here working out, and I was supposed to leave on the Saturday. But something told me to go home on a Wednesday, so I changed my flight. I was like, something just telling me to go home on a Wednesday, and my girlfriend end up having the babies Thursday.
Yeah, so, I was like, oh my God, man. I almost had a heart attack. Like, oh, what if I would’ve stuck to my original plan and stayed here ’til Saturday? I probably never would’ve heard the end of it. Yeah, so, luckily whatever kind of feeling I had, I’m, maybe it was a message from God or something.
On what his twins do
Nothing but pooping…It’s all they doing. They just sitting there and pooping the whole time…Always pooping and passing gas.
** Drove home from the hospital at a speed of 10 miles per hour
What did you work on this summer?
For me, the main thing was working on my body and getting, keep getting stronger, and, to be able to, you know, to be on some stronger guys and bang on the post. Also offensively, keep working on my post game and improving my free throw and my mid-range shooting.
What was the funnest thing you did during your summer vacation?
Probably going to, you know, Senegal and discover this country and visit all the, you know, the neighborhoods and stuff like that over there.
What does Joe Ingles do to keep the team loose in the locker room?
The bad jokes, you know?
What do you want to be one day?
This year, I want to be a playoff player.
And in five years?
A championship player.
** People calling Rudy Gobert “Gobzilla”: Joe Ingles
** Ron Boone to David Locke on Gobert: He’s the first player that came over here with cologne on and smelling all–
Gobert: It’s natural.
What did you work on this summer?
Trying to improve everything…I think, worked a lot on shooting again. Think you can always be a better shooter until you start hitting 100 percent of your shots. So, did a lot of shooting this year. A lot of ball-handling as well. Think improving my handle is something that will open up the floor a lot more for me.
And then worked out a little bit on post game. Trying to be able to take advantage of switches. The NBA, they’re starting to switch a lot of things, so hopefully be able to take advantage of some mismatches when, you know, have a little bit of a size advantage, so.
What was the funnest thing you did during your summer vacation?
Having a baby girl. Changes your perspective on life. Definitely a game changer. Pretty fun. There are times that are not so fun with her, but, when she’s crying in the middle of the night…Something that has just been a blast this off-season. Worked, the timing worked out really well.
It’s your sixth season. Where are you as a leader?
As far as a leadership standpoint, I think that both [me and Favors] are the best leaders that we’ve ever been, as far as the off-season, as far as vocally. And I think both of us are guys that like to lead by example first and foremost, but the communication that we had throughout this summer with teammates, with coaches was the highest that I’ve seen since I’ve been here in Utah.
** Drove home from the hospital at 20 miles per hour
What do you think of the nickname “Slo-Mo Joe”?
It is what it is. It doesn’t bother me. I feel like I’m pretty smart, so I’ll get around the slowness.
What’s this season going to be like, being married?
Probably not much different. I might have to remember to take my win–ring and put it back on after the game…She’ll get to cook and clean a bit more, maybe. Shit, hopefully she doesn’t listen to this.*
* Or “She, hopefully she doesn’t listen to this” if you prefer.
On the Jazz’s collective Twitter game
We figure that — well, I don’t even have half the guys’ numbers, so it’s just easier to tweet them. Yeah, no, we just, I think we’re just a good bunch of guys. We have a g–we obviously have a lot of fun together.
You changed your body a little bit. You look different. What’d you do?
I got a haircut. Waxed my chest…Well, I had the first year off the national team for eight years or something…and then it was the first time since I was 17 that I actually got to spend the off-season working on my own game and my own body…
So, I got to spend, I think, it was three or four months living at home, s–living with my now-wife, and had a very good diet that she was cooking, and a regular training routine that I never really got to be in for that period of time. And I think for me, the biggest thing was having that routine. So, now that I’ve got it, I know what to do and I’ll stay where I’m at.
On his adjustment to the NBA game
I just think the biggest adjustment for me is just, you know, adjusting to the strength part. You know, playing in college, you’re going up against guys that are 22, 23, and now you’re in the NBA playing against 32-year-old grown men. You know, it’s a big difference there. So, you know, just like everything else it’s gonna be an adjustment, and hopefully I’ll be able to make that adjustment quickly.
On his impressions of Quin Snyder
He’s very hands-on. He’s very energetic about everything that he does with us, and you know, he wants us to be successful of course. He wants the playoffs, of course. Everybody does. And you know, he just, from what I can see, he demands a lot from us. But he realizes that, you know, we’re a young team, but he doesn’t hold that against us, I guess? And he just wants us to be as good as we can be.
On criticism about his shot
I’m used to that. I had a lot of them in Spain last year. I, actually, I didn’t have a really good percentage of 3-point shots, but I’m work on that. I know that if I want to play on NBA, I gotta be better on that. And I’m doing every day my best, and shooting, try and shooting more than everyone, and, to get better on that. I know that I’m gonna improve that, and I have to improve that to be a good NBA player.
How well are you adjusting to Quin Snyder’s system?
I think the biggest change for me is the physical players that we have in the NBA. I think they’re, like, so strong. They’re faster. They are — I mean, in Spain I was one of the most, of the best, like, physical point guards in the league, and here I’m just one more. And I think that is gonna be the hardest thing to get used to. But I think all my teammates and everybody’s gonna help me with that, and I will be good.
** Joe Ingles, while Neto is doing his interview: Do you guys need me to translate?
Neto: He always say, “You don’t speak English.” I say, “You neither.”
** Neto, displaying his high basketball IQ (and EQ):
–David Locke: Your favorite player growing up was?
–Neto: My dad?
–Locke: No, who’s your favorite NBA player?
–Neto: Oh, John Stockton?
–Locke: No, I thought you told me it was Kobe.
–Neto: I don’t know, I have so many, I just don’t remember.
On transitioning to the NBA
My goal and my dream was always to come to the best league to play against ands to play with the best players around the world. And that’s why I’m happy to be here, because now I can improve. I he–for sure I will be a better player over the next few years, ands that’s what I want, you know? I want to find my limits.
Describe your game.
I’m a, I play on the center position. I’m, for my tallness — I’m 7’3, 7’2 without shoes — ands I’m really quick and I have good movement for my tallness, for my height, so I’m pretty good in defense.
I can defend. I can change the game under the basket, so that means I don’t let some, yeah, the other team alloweds to make some points. I’m aggressive. I’m a fighter. I want to win, and I want to help my team to reach its goals.
On where he got his height from
For me, it’s tough to explain that because I have still some problems with feet. For me, feet is still new.* So, I can say it only in centimeters. But I think my dad is, it’s a bit taller, but not too tall. It’s not over 7 foot…My dad is around 188 [centimeters] and my mom is around 185. So, they’re not so, nots tall like me, but a little bit taller than normal.
* Possible UDQM.
On his outside game
I have a good s–I have a good touch. I think it was showed sometimes in the past, but I never really had the situation that somebody gave me the chance to shoot because the coaches have wanted me always under the basket.
But I know that I have the skills, that I can shoot from outside. I did it already in the past, for example in Bamberg, where I played sometimes on position four and I was shooting from outsides. And yeah, that’s what I hope, where, that I can, yeah, come back on the court and show that I can shoot.
Joe Ingles said his three years with Barcelona were the worst, most stifling years of his basketball career. Did Barcelona hold you back?
I was really proud to play for FC Barcelona. And I don’t think thats, it was only a bad year for me. I think I learned a lot of things, and I made steps forwards. So, I think it was one step on my, in my career who helped me to be the player who I am right now, and I think that’s the player the Utah Jazz choose. So I think every, I did everything rights ’til now.
Do you have a nickname?
[Past teammates] called me “T,” “Ty-bor,” “T-Bone,” so many things.
How did Utah’s Oktoberfest compare to your expectations?
It was a little bit different. For example, the foods — I went with Raul [Neto], and he asked me what’s, what is the favorites German foods you have, and I said it was schnitzel with red kraut potatoes. He tried, he liked it a lot.
But for me, it was, like, not that similar. It was not the same…The German style in America, it was really funny. I was laughing a lot. I, yeah, it was amazing, hear some German country music.
** People calling Tibor Pleiss “Ty-bor Pleese”: 1280 personnel
** First sport was field hockey, until he got too tall for it. Then moved on to soccer. Started playing basketball at age 10.
On being a
white NBA player hustle player
There are things you can control in basketball and then things you can’t. And I want to make sure everything I control, I do 100 percent. And hustling my face off every possession is one of the things that I can control.
Do you have a favorite superhero?
It’d have to be, I’d have to say Batman, probably, ’cause he’s just a normal rich dude. And anybody can be a humble rich dude if you work hard enough. So, I, that’s kind of what I strive for.
** Mom made him get a haircut. He does what “Mama Cooley” tells him to do because of the way she cooks.
** At David Locke’s request, Cooley tells his dog story yet again. Unlike the first time when Cooley said he stole the dog, this time he says he compensated its original owner.
Do you think you can earn the starting point guard spot through a training camp battle?
I don’t really look at, you know, starting or coming off the bench, whatever. My goal is to go out there, compete, get better. What these coaches telling me to do, I try to do that to the best of my abilities every night. And whatever happens as a result of that, you know, that’s what it is.
Which part of your game is not talked about enough or underappreciated?
I don’t know if I’ve necessarily earned that right yet, you know? I just got my foot into the door, so I’m fine with not being talked about right now ’cause I still have lot to prove.
Do you have a favorite superhero?
I don’t think I have a favorite superhero. I wasn’t really into that.
** Dealt with a rare form of epilepsy at the age of nine; doctors told his mom he wouldn’t make it past sixth grade
What do you need to do to solidify your spot on the team?
You know, just go in and play hard. Help my teammates get better. You know, competing, and you know, just doing whatever my coach asks me to do.
What did the coaching staff want you to work on this summer?
You know, told me, not even on the court — you know, just stretching. You know, getting my hips more looser. You know, working on ball-handling…shooting. Those are two main primary things. Get a little bit stronger. And just keeping that same, you know, competitive edge. You know, getting to my spots quickly on the court. And being consistent.
What did you work on this summer?
I wanted to go into the summer getting quicker and faster, and trying to lose weight. And of course, shooting corner threes.
How much weight have you lost?
I haven’t lost the weight yet. But coming into the season, I usually like to be at a certain weight and I’m at that weight right now. And I know during the course of the week, I’m going to shred that weight, and I’ll be where I need to be…Right now I’m at 220, and that’s the lightest I came into a season. So, after the week I should be less than 215.
Do you like the Tony Allen comparison?
I like the Elijah Millsap comparison. You know, I lo–I used to watch Tony Allen all the time. Guys like him, Wesley Matthews, Bruce Bowen. I’m real big on watching film, but I think I got my own flavor.
What can fans expect from you?
Just working hard, and whatever the team needs from me, that’s what Imma do. I’ve, over the years, I’ve become more of a defensive player, along with scoring. So, just being a really hard worker, and whatever the team needs from me, I’ll do.
Which NBA player do you model your defensive game after?
In college, I would say Paul Pierce, just how, the way he plays. He plays hard every game, but he’s more of a offensive player. But also, like, how Klay Thompson, he uses, he plays great defense, and he’s probably not known for his defense as much, but I see how hard he works on defense.
** Is an only child, but has a godbrother
* Jerrett was the only player that was not interviewed by Ron Boone and David Locke.
How was the injury recovery process from your torn labrum? When will you return to the court?
It was boring, but that’s part of it. It’s feeling really well. Honestly, I don’t know what the time-process or the timing will be to get back on the court. So, just take it day by day.
Will you be able to play in the preseason?
I have no clue. I mean, it feels fine, but it’s not really my call right now.
Do you have any odd pregame rituals or lucky charms?
I don’t have anything crazy. Nothing crazy.
What is the one aspect of your game that you’d say you’ve mastered?
I think just being able to be versatile. Guarding multiple positions and playing multiple positions on offense. Offense, defense. You know, in college I played the four and I played the point guard as well. I mean, that’s what I’ve done my whole life. I’ve guarded at point guard and I’ve guarded at center, so I think just being versatile is something that I’ve mastered.
What do you need to do to make the roster?
I think continuing to show my versatality* on offense and defense. Continuing to show the fact that I have a high basketball IQ. And show that I’ve improved my shooting a lot, and that I can knock down a NBA three, a corner three. I think those are the main things. Just versatality* and shooting.
* Not typos.
What is your next step if you don’t make the team?
I think we’d go down to the D-League probably, work our way up. Just get better, and you know, wait for the next opportunity.
On guarding the block
I would say that’s definitely what I hold my hat on, is defense. Shot-blocking, especially. That’s what I like to do. I think that fits very well with this team, being a great defensive team last year and finishing in the league on the top. You know, with Rudy [Gobert] and me and some other guys down low, I think that we have a chance to really shut down the paint.
And you know, I look re–I look forward to it because, you know, I feel like this is just such a good fit for me. But yeah, that’s what I love to do, is block shots. Love to run the floor, get easy baskets, pick and roll. I’ve been working on my 15-foot jump shot, feel really confident with that. But yeah, just trying to keep on getting better and better.
On getting his chance in Utah
You know, New Orleans last year was a crazy team, or crazy year, just because, you know, the, we had some injuries, but at the same time we were fighting for that playoff spot, and y–coach didn’t really hit the rotation ’cause he was so worried about that playoff spot. So, a couple guys didn’t get, you know, a chance, and I was one of those guys. And so, you know, this year I definitely feel like I have a chance and I can show what I can do.
Do you have any odd pregame rituals or lucky charms?
No, nothing, you know, snack or food or anything like that that gets me going. So, no.
** Loves the beach and being outdoors. Is a “really chill guy,” just likes to hang out, go outside, and enjoy the weather. Is “pretty close” with Chase Budinger, though not close enough to say “Budinger” correctly
** Being from California, he experienced bad culture shock being landlocked at the University of Kansas