After a lackluster first year with the San Antonio Spurs, coach Gregg Popovich made it his mission this summer to get Spurs forward Richard Jefferson back to basics.
David Aldridge, in his latest column on NBA.com, said Popovich gave Jefferson the choice to work with the coaching staff this summer or he could enjoy his summer off and Popovich would work on finding Jefferson somewhere else to call home.
So Jefferson chose summer school, working out for two hours at a time with the Spurs' coaches all over the country. It was all basics: pivoting with the ball, jump-stopping, drills designed to improve his efficiency of movement on the court. On the defensive end, Jefferson got reinforcements on the Spurs' defensive concepts, which go into much greater detail than simply pushing everything baseline and keeping guards from dribble penetrations in the paint. He reported to camp last week with 7 percent body fat and a cut-up physique.
"I asked him if he wanted to reach his potential, or just let the next few years slough away and just put money in the bank," Popovich said. "He said 'I want to reach my potential.' "
At training camp last week, Jefferson said the work has helped and he's more comfortable now that he knows what to expect.
"I didn't forget how to play basketball, I don't think my talents dropped in a year. It was just getting used to system," Jefferson said.
"The work that I put in wasn't above last summer. I didn't do anything more, it was more coming in and trying to focus on the areas where I need to improve that help the team...so I spent a lot of time working on that and yes, that has helped quite a bit. I'm just feeling more comfortable out there already."
Jefferson also said that his work in the summer wasn't about doing anything better, but just being more consistent and accurate. Hopefully Spurs fans will see it when the Spurs play their first preseason game against the Rockets on Thursday.