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.
When Paul George was forced to play last season due to injuries, his coaches were immediately impressed. Given the daunting task of guarding Derrick Rose during last season’s playoffs, George realized he’d have to improve his body in order to stay in the league long term. So over the lockout, George added eight pounds of muscle (and reportedly grew close to two inches). It’s paying dividends this season as the sophomore is off to a great start, securing the starting shooting guard job and averaging 10.9 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.2 steals.
Heading into last season with the Celtics, Perkins came to camp a little heavy because of his ACL tear in Game 6 of the 2010 Finals. Now with the run-and-gun Oklahoma City Thunder, he dropped 32 pounds, making his body more suitable to the Thunder’s style of play. The results have not produced as expected. Last year in 17 games with OKC, Perkins averaged 5.1 points, 7.9 rebounds and 0.9 blocks. In this year’s 12 games, he is averaging 5.4 points, 6.1 rebounds and 1.2 blocks. With plenty of basketball to be played, look for Perkins to bounce back as his body adjusts to playing on a night-in and night-out basis.
Z-Bo didn’t lose or gain any weight this past offseason, but he did focus on one important thing for his body. All offseason long, he worked with University of Memphis assistant Frank Matrisciano. Matrisciano, nicknamed “Hell’s Trainer,” helped Randolph turn fat into muscle. Unfortunately for Randolph, he suffered a torn MCL just four games into his season. Until then, his game was right on par with last year’s 20.1 points and 12.2 rebounds.
Bynum has been one of the most dominant players in the league so far this season and some of that can be attributed to losing more body fat than Kevin Durant even carries. Bynum also lost ten pounds of weight, allowing him to be a little quicker in the post. Last year was just another injury-ravaged season for Hollywood’s big man when he averaged a career low 11.3 points and 9.4 rebounds. This year he’s averaging an astounding 17.1 points and 13.9 rebounds. While he probably can’t keep up his torrid pace, his game is still vastly improved from the past.
Last year’s leading rebounder is looking to do the same this year, and by dropping 25 pounds, he’ll be in position to do just that. Love is actually down a half of a rebound per game from 15.2 to 14.7 so far, but either way his rebounding numbers should settle right around where he was last year. Losing the weight hasn’t changed Love’s game at all, but it sure looks nice to management when you’re looking for a huge contract extension.
Who do you think has benefitted the most from a new body this season?
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