This Sunday, August 31, Wesley Matthews will be in Madison, Wisconsin for his Wesley Matthews Skills Academy. It marks the fifth year that Matthews, a Madison native, and his business “Driven2Greatness” have hosted the basketball camp. Matthews was recently a guest on Sirius XM NBA Radio’s “Off the Dribble” to promote his camp. Radio hosts Malik Rose and Jason Goff talked with Matthews about the Trail Blazers and their future.
What is the next step for the Trail Blazers? They made the playoffs, won a playoff series, and had one of the best seasons in recent memory. Matthews didn’t go into much detail during his interview, just giving very generic answers. “We need to continue to get better. We need to grow and rely on each other.” Definitely a deep thought Wes. All joking aside, the Trail Blazers do need to grow as a team. They are going to be relying on a lot of young talent and need the chemistry to be there from day one.
Rose and Goff spent a lot of time on the Houston-Portland playoff series, as most of us have since it happened. It was one of the most exciting series in the 2014 NBA Playoffs (that’s not even a biased opinion). They mentioned that any kid attending the Wesley Matthews Skills Academy should be required to watch that series. Matthews attacked James Harden, one of the most prolific scorers in the league, on both ends of the court. Matthews stated that the match-up with Harden wasn’t intimidating for him: “I’m not going to back down from any challenge. James and I were in the same draft class. At the end of the day, he’s a basketball player and so am I.” That’s why we love you Wes, keep that chip on your shoulder!
Matthews also discussed the vital role Robin Lopez played in the Trail Blazers success this year and how LaMarcus Aldridge was impacted by the acquisition of Lopez. Lopez really did “fill a void” for the Trail Blazers. He gave them a presence inside and helped them protect the rim. Aldridge was able to play his natural four position, which opened up his game and the rhythm of the entire team. Lopez was always behind Aldridge and I believe that helped calm his mind. Aldridge had a career year rebounding the ball and I’m sure it’s because Lopez helped take off the pressure.
The Trail Blazers were not extremely active in free agency and decided to stick with their core players and developmental talent. The young players on the team will be called upon to produce next season. Are they ready to take the next step? “They are chomping at the bit and now have playoff experience,” Matthews said. Joel Freeland, Meyers Leonard, and Will Barton will have to be ready this season or their future on the team will be in jeopardy.
Finally, on a lighter note, Matthews was asked about his one-on-one competition with Nicolas Batum. Matthews stated that it never happened but that “I’m sure it will happen this training camp.” Can’t wait to see that!
Listen to the entire interview below: