We are nearing the darkest days of the NBA offseason, when the only real news is a faint trade or free agency rumor and there won’t even be Summer League action to fill our appetite for live NBA games.
In this time NBA fans turn to pickup game and workout highlight reels for their fix, as players and trainers post well-edited videos of their offseason workouts that get fans hyped about the upcoming season. The most successful offseason workout video series last year was that of Hoodie Melo, as Carmelo Anthony ran the gym at the Lifetime Fitness in New York with trainer Chris Brickley while wearing a hoodie.
This year it’s going to be Drew Hanlen, trainer to the stars on the West Coast, that appears to be set to dominate the offseason headlines with his videos of clients putting in work. It’s always important to remember the whole point of these videos is to make the guys look good, but in a lot of cases, the players are really good and that gets amplified in an empty gym setting. That said, when guys are playing against each other you get a little bit of that competitive fire going and you can also see how ridiculously talented these guys are at doing things they don’t always get a chance to show off on the NBA floor.
On Tuesday, Hanlen dropped a new episode of his web series “Unseen Hours” on Youtube and it featured a chunk of footage of Joel Embiid, Jayson Tatum, and Mo Bamba going at it in rotating 1-on-1 games, which highlights how insanely good all three are. This is especially true of Embiid and Tatum.
Embiid is an absolute monster and his combination of strength and skill on offense make him almost unstoppable, especially for someone like Tatum who doesn’t play center. The best example of Embiid’s freakishness was the drive where he goes behind the back effortlessly to shake Tatum and throw down a dunk. On the flip side, Tatum’s refinement of his offensive game is pretty incredible and he makes some wildly difficult shots over solid contests from both Bamba and Embiid.
I also enjoy how Tatum, despite being much quieter than Embiid is able to keep the big man in check by constantly reminding him the Celtics beat Philadelphia in the playoffs 4-1. For Bamba, you can see the flashes of how good he can be, but the fact that he’s a much smaller portion of this clip leads me to believe he, understandably, has a ways to go before being at the level of these other two — also, Embiid seems to bully him a bit, maybe going overboard as the rookie showed off his bloody shirt from his battles with JoJo.
The video also teases Markelle Fultz’s work on his jumper, but doesn’t show any actual footage of him getting shots up, just the ball going through the hoop, so that is still clearly a work in progress, even though all indications are he’s making serious improvements with his jumper.