At the start of every NBA season, all we hear about for weeks is “X player gained x amount of muscle,” or “X player lost x pounds, so look for him to break out!” It gets a little nauseating after awhile and it isn’t until players step foot on the hardwood that you can really notice any change. John Hollinger tried to save us all some time by tweeting: “I’ll save everyone else the trouble for their training camp reports: Every NBA player is in the best shape of his life. Except Eddy Curry.”
We kept this list weight-related because even if it never becomes known to the public, there are a heck of a lot of players putting up countless jumpers to expand their range or work on new mechanics. Now that we have some results to investigate, let’s see whose offseason work is paying off.
Bogut reported to camp a reported 10 pounds lighter this season. The plan was for him to become quicker and thus contribute more offensively. Last year he averaged 12.8 points per game and in five games so far this season, he’s up to 14.2. Some of that can be attributed to his health as that nasty elbow injury becomes a distant memory, but for now his offseason work seems to be paying dividends.
Although Bosh only added five to ten pounds of muscle, it could wind up doing wonders for both his team and game. The Heat, who are thin at the five, can now afford to play a little smaller and let Bosh utilize his quickness as a center for small spurts. His goal is to average 10 rebounds a game, saying “There shouldn’t be a season where I don’t average 10 rebounds.” In seven years in Toronto he averaged 10 boards just three times and his 19.4 points and 8.1 rebounds this year are right on par with last year’s 18.7 and 8.3. Looks like Bosh will be back to the drawing board next summer.
It seems a little odd that in an offseason spent resting a sore back that you can add 15 pounds of muscle, but if anyone could pull it off it would be Amar’e Stoudemire. The improved weight hasn’t exactly helped Amar’e personally so far, but the Knicks are improving with their defense and rebounding, ranking No. 12 in points allowed and 21st in rebounding. It seemed a little pointless for Amar’e to gain this muscle as he was already one of the most jacked players in the league, but for Knicks fans who think of the words “weight gain” synonymously with Eddy Curry and Jerome James, a little extra muscle won’t hurt anybody.
J-Smoove was the greatest benefactor of the extended offseason as he was able to use the extra time to shed 30 pounds. When this was first reported I was a little worried about Smith being out-muscled on the block and perhaps losing out on some rebounds. However, his average of 8.5 boards per game is right on par with last year’s 8.5 and his career average of 7.8. His new physique allows him to spend more time at the three, thus keeping him on the court longer while Al Horford locks down the four.
Roy Hibbert used his time wisely this offseason, putting on 15 pounds, while also working out with future Hall of Famer Tim Duncan. Said Hibbert of Duncan, “He taught me a lot of things, in terms of things I’m not comfortable with, like turning and facing, shooting off the glass and just working on things that are out of my comfort zone.” Hibbert and the Pacers are off to a hot start (14.3 points, 9.8 rebounds, 1.2 blocks) and if Hibbert starts showing off the patented Tim Duncan bank shot, look for him to be in the running for the Most Improved Player Award.