Quick Hits with Idan Ravin

By: Rasheed Malek

Who is the “Hoops Whisperer”?

I am a basketball trainer. Some NBA front office personnel would refer to me this way. The Hoops Whisperer nickname references how I engage the players and how committed the players are to me in the process of self improvement.

I have been fortunate to work with great players. Their God given talents along with their love for the game, their passion and the speed in which they process information makes them unique.

The mental component to success is an integral part of the process. The mind-body connection is everything.

How did you link up with Stephen Curry?  What kind of work did you do with Curry?

He was referred to me by a mutual acquaintance. Basketball is a game of imperfection so there are always many areas of improvement.

Workouts begin at the crack of dawn.  I paired Steph with many of the best players in the League for workouts so he could see what it took to be the best. I had him work out with Carmelo, Chris Paul, Joe Johnson, Kevin Durant, etc.  Last summer was just the beginning of the journey.

How do you think Curry has looked thus far in the season? What are some areas of improvement for him?

I think he has done a good job. He has only scratched the surface of his ability. He has a very good feel for the game and will continue to improve in all facets.

You’ve done extensive work Carmelo Anthony, would you agree that Melo is often overlooked when talking about the best players in the league?

Melo is a top 5 player in the world. His peers would be the first to acknowledge this. For some reason, the media associates winning a championship with being a great player. I don’t agree. There are many factors that can influence whether a team wins a championship, aside from whether the franchise player is playing exceptionally well (e.g. team chemistry, injuries, front office and coaching staff on the same page, etc…)

Melo is an incredibly hard worker, generous, charitable, committed, diligent, passionate, intense, competitive, bright, etc. He is very committed to the process.

Stephen Curry: The Ascent

By: Sherwood Strauss

This is a metamorphosis that’s above all, surprising.  Without consulting basketballprospectus.com, I have to say…never seen a rookie improve like this.  It hasn’t happened before, or if it has, I’d rather not know.  The transformation feels special.

The stats tell part of the story:

Stephen Curry

November   9.8 PPG  5.3 APG 41.6% FG 38.5% 3PT

December  13.5 PPG  3.7 APG 44.5% FG 39.7% 3PT

January      19.1 PPG  5.1 APG 48% FG 48.7% 3PT

February    21.5 PPG  7.3 APG 46.6% FG 34.7% 3PT

And this…

Brandon Jennings

November 22.1 PPG  5.6 APG 42% FG 49.3% 3PT

December  16.7 PPG  6.5 APG 37.5% FG 32.4% 3PT,

January      14.2 PPG  6.6 APG 32.4% FG 35.2% 3PT

February    11.3 PPG  5.3 APG 30.6% FG 30.8% 3PT

I’m contrasting the Curry numbers against Jennings splits because November 14, 2009 was a moment.  Jennings torched the Warriors for a historic 55 points.  Young Buck had conquered the basketball world, he was automatic ROY, and hoop fans were thrilled.  I personally thought him the next Iverson—or at least Kevin Johnson—and made a point to NBA Broadband Bucks games.  That Jennings had thrived after taking a year in Europe supposedly changed the game forever (it still could), and added to his iconoclast image. Brandon was a brash, flashy superstar whom endorsers could brand as the rebel kids flocked to (When I was younger, nothing was cooler than Iverson’s bee-hive patterned Reebok’s).

Since the double nickel had come against the Warriors, Curry/Jennings comparisons were unavoidable. Curry didn’t play badly, but I’m also sure Sam Bowie had a couple decent games against the Bulls.  It didn’t matter, the Warriors (and nearly half the other teams in the league) were fools for passing on greatness.  The game turned 2009 Draft Night into an uneasy memory.

The goal here isn’t to laud a favored guy over a perceived rival (also referred to as the “Mike Bianchi”). I’m using this space to say the simple: This league can surprise us sometimes and that’s a good thing.  With our statistical models and annealing ideas of what a player’s value is, we forget that massive change can happen.  Jennings may be crushed under the weight of the Scott Skiles angry man act, or he could flourish with an improved jumper.  Steph could regress. The past informs our predictions, but a young player gives little history to work with.

Certain parts of the past may be fading away as we slowly delete scenes of a Warriors rookie who couldn’t beat defenders off the dribble or who hurled passes deep into the stands. Today’s Curry is a terror, an impossible question for defenses to answer.  Pinpoint passes fly from all angles off the pick-and-roll. He can score from anywhere and can do so off-balance.  Steph’s lack of speed should keep him from the rim but he’s developed a herky-jerk high dribble that confounds opponents.  Watch how it ruins Birdman before Curry dream-shakes Anderson back to the China League:

Speaking of the dream shake, we saw it again in the Detroit game (Curry missed the bunny).  This fanciful move is part of Curry’s ever-expanding arsenal.  Right now the launch codes unleash: The dream shake, the floater (either hand), the headfake-pause-shot, the over-the-head layups, and much, much more.  That Curry even tries this stuff is meaningful—most rooks are just out there striving to belong.  Steph is confidently test-driving skills of whimsy when he should be struggling.

Please hose me down if this is hyperbole: At this moment, No. 30 looks like an eventual combination of Reggie Miller and Steve Nash. Warning: Since he surprised me over the course of this season, I’m not the one to know.

This is fine, not knowing works.  It’s a comfort when your favorite team delivers predictable suck year after year.  To understand the Warriors isn’t to have your heart broken suddenly—it’s to have your soul slowly sandpapered to a nub. And the erosion continues as D-Leaguers brick wide-open three pointers and bat away available rebounds.

All that’s left is seeing Curry learn, and having a stake in the growth (Warriors fans are polar bears forced into staking claim to ever-shrinking ice pockets; some deal with the situation by conjuring ridiculous metaphors). “What will he do next?” has been turning the pages in a chapter of Warriors history that I should’ve put down months ago.  The ceiling is rising.

Youtube’n It

Charles Barkley’s golf swing vs Andris Biedrins’ free throws

WarriorsWorld TV with Anthony Morrow

WarriorsWorld TV with CJ Watson

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