Steve Blake changes his shooting stroke
In between increased family time and rest at his Portland, Ore., home during the NBA lockout, Lakers guard Steve Blake took the first step in what he hopes will lead to a better performance in the 2011-12 season.
"I'm trying to get more arc on my shot," Blake said Thursday in a phone interview. "That's what I've been working on this summer. I'm trying to shoot the ball a little higher and see if that will improve my jump shot. I didn't shoot the ball horribly this year, but I didn't shoot it as well as I wanted to."
Blake shot 35.9% from the field last season, the lowest shooting percentage for the eight-year veteran since the 2004-05 season. Even though Blake often worked on his shot after practices and before games, he averaged a career-low four points in 20 minutes per game. Blake's overall shooting consistency reflected a significant problem for the Lakers: the lack of a reliable outside shooter.
That performance sparked Lakers assistant coach Chuck Person to reach out to Blake before the lockout since team officials now are forbidden from contacting players. Blake said the two outlined various unspecified ways he could elevate his arch, stressing that Blake perfect the technique so it becomes natural when he's shooting in games.
It's common for athletes to see the off-season as a fresh start, but there are other tangible reasons that make Blake feel confident he will improve.
Before the lockout, Blake met with Coach Mike Brown and "enjoyed meeting with him and talking to him" about the team's offense. The two didn't discuss playing time, but Blake came away from that meeting knowing he needed to prepare for playing at a faster tempo. That's why most of his off-season work at his home gym centers on quick drills, such as taking spot-up jumpers and attacking the basket.
Then there's the offense itself.
Though Phil Jackson's coaching staff credited Blake for learning the triangle offense last season, he still appeared tentative in his role. Blake believes that feeling won't likely return because of his increased familiarity with a faster-paced offense.
"This year it'll be a more traditional point guard role," Blake said. "This past year, we had a two-guard front where a lot of times I wouldn't even bring the ball up. Now it's more of a typical point guard role I'll probably be able to excel in more. I'll be more comfortable in being able to just react and not have to think as much. You're always thinking. But the triangle is different. You have to learn it a lot more. This will be easier for me to acclimate to this new offense. I think I'll be more successful that way."
-- Mark Medina
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Photo: Lakers guard Steve Blake drives to the hoop as the Atlanta Hawks' Marvin Williams, left, and Jamal Crawford, right, try to stop him during the fourth quarter at Staples Center on Feb. 22, 2011. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times