In the gym at Marquette University are photos of famous alumni such as Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler. In the estimation of many of the Lakers players there’s not enough art of one other alumnus.
That would be Vander Blue.
“They said I need more,” Blue said sheepishly of how his teammates teased him while there. “They said Dwyane Wade, Jimmy and all those guys got way more than me. Got some work to do.”
Blue is with the Lakers for this trip as part of his two-way contract with the Lakers organization. Blue is a member of the South Bay Lakers, the Lakers’ development-league affiliate, and he can spend 45 days at the NBA level.
Blue has been active throughout the trip and even got some playing time against the Washington Wizards. He made one of two shots he attempted in the three minutes he played.
The experience has been completely different for Blue from his experience traveling in the development league, for which he was the league’s MVP last season.
“Go from commercial to PJ’s it’s a big difference. … It’s what you work for,” Blue said. “Gives me a good taste of where I want to be permanently. I just gotta keep working.”
After their workout session at Marquette, the Lakers had a team-building activity at an escape room in Milwaukee where the team was split into two teams, each of which were locked in separate rooms. They had to solve a series of puzzles in order to escape.
Coach Luke Walton sorted the teams by personality type. His team lost.
“I stacked the team as far as education was concerned,” Walton said. “Where they went to college. We put two Stanford guys, a Villanova guy, [Brian Shaw] at Santa Barbara. Clay [Moser] is our analytical guy. They were all on the same team so that was my fault. They won.”
Brook Lopez and Mark Madsen were the two Stanford alumni on that team, which also included Lonzo Ball who solved the final puzzle.
Adapting from deep
As an NBA rookie, Milwaukee Bucks coach Jason Kidd shot only 27% from three-point range. Not until very late in his career did he actually become comfortable taking the shot.
“After I retired,” Kidd quipped, when asked when he learned the shot. “No pressure.”
Kidd said it actually happened when he returned to Dallas for his second stint there. He was 34 in his first year back with the Mavericks, who drafted him in 1994, and he made 46% of his three-pointers that season.
“I knew at that point my career was slowly coming to an end,” Kidd said. “If I wanted to have any success I had to be able to make an open shot and help Dirk [Nowitzki] that way and so that’s when I really focused on shooting the three and being consistent, because I wanted to play.”
Kidd said improving his shooting was difficult given that he focused so much on passing the ball. He said he measured his success the same way he figures Ball measures his — with wins.
Today’s NBA, of course, is a little bit different than the one in which Kidd spent most of his career. Even centers shoot threes these days.