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Bits from Phil Johnson Interview, 1/5

January 7, 2015
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phil johnson

On Rudy Gobert
I think Gobert has such an effect on the [Jazz’s defense]…I think that he has gotten better. I think he came in, he was just a real young guy and really didn’t know what it took to be a good player. A lot of guys don’t.

And so, I think it was a shock for him last year, but I really see a great improvement on him since he played internationally last year in the tournament, and then, summer league for the Jazz. And so, I think the improvement is there.

He has some real talent. He has some God-given talent there. I mean, his length is just un–incredible. He runs the floor very well. He is, he really sees the game. I mean, he has good vision. He can pass. And so, I think it’s, I think that it depends on how hard he really wants to work, but he’s gonna be a factor the way he is right now, let alone how much he improves.

On Trevor Booker
Immediately, when I went to watch him practice and stuff, you just see that he’s built on hard work, and th–and he gets, he is really good for this team. One of the things, you know, you can look at what he does. I mean, he really works hard. He tries. He’s learned to, he’s getting so he can make threes and all that.

But…I think he played eight minutes when they played the Clippers in that loss in L.A. And he came back–now he didn’t sulk. The next game, and the next two games, he was very influential in playing well against those teams that he played against. And so, that’s the kind of guy that you like on your team, that’ll bounce back from–you know, he’d been playing more minutes than that, and all of a sudden, he didn–he only played eight minutes. And no–but he jumped out there and he was playing. He gets the crowd into it, and he plays hard, and he does a lot of good things for this team.

On Deron Williams coaches vs. star players and the importance of players buying in
That’s an advantage [Quin Snyder] has. He has a young team. He really has no bona fide superstar or older veterans to have to deal with. That’s a positive from his standpoint.

When you go into a team and you have veterans on your team that have seen a lot of different ways and they have a lot of answers and then all of a sudden things don’t go well, who do you think they’re going to blame?

Very few players take that on themselves and say, “Hey, it’s my fault.” I, yeah, they might one game and then sooner or later–so that’s the issue that you have. You simply have got–winning cures a lot of things.

On the Cleveland Cavaliers
Expectations on the Cleveland Cavaliers are just, you know, they’re off the wall. The minute [LeBron James] signed there, they’re supposed to play in the Finals. Well, they’ve added players. They’ve lost [Anderson] Varejao in the middle, who is a rim protector.

And they really, defensively, they just aren’t, you’ve got, you know, Kevin Love is not a particularly good play–defensive player. He’s a very good rebounder, offensive player and a good player, but he’s not, he’s a little bit in the Carlos Boozer realm, as far as defense is concerned.

So, these guys you’ve added, and it’s all-encompassing. So, it’s a, it’s gonna be a rough road for them because they were expected to win the championship, or play for it. And expectations [are] what gets you.

On C.J. Miles
He came out of high school…If ever a guy should’ve gone to college, it was C.J.

What a wonderful kid. I mean, he’s a, just an outstanding young man. But he’s been up and down with his career. And so, lately, I think over the last, I think I saw where, over the last 17, you know, 17 games or so, he’s playing a lot more. He’s shooting the ball pretty well. He had a big game the other night. You know, he can shoot the basketball, and when he gets on a roll, he can really help you. …

I think [his biggest hold-up], really, bottom line is self-motivation. Really busting it, and getting ready to play. I think that he’s just a low-key kinda guy. I mean, he’s a, just a nice guy, and I don’t think that he really, I think he’s gonna look back on his career and say, “Boy, I could’ve worked harder.” And, but he has natural talent, and like I said, so, he, but he’s good for a team.

On drafted players not knowing what “being in shape” really means
Not only [college players], it’s players we got in trades. For in–you know–

1280: Memo [Okur].

PJ: Memo came in and really was not in very good shape, and [Carlos] Boozer, Booz came in, and you know, that’s one of the things that coach Sloan, Jerry, was great at, is getting to guys like that. Now, the next year when they came back, they were ready to go. Memo was never, I mean, he was always in shape after that. So yeah, it’s easy to say, “I’ll be OK,” but they, you don’t know what the work is to put into that. (1280)

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