How do your favorite Toronto Raptors train during the offseason? I talked with Joe Abunassar, the man responsible for training Kyle Lowry, Serge Ibaka, and Terence Davis to find out.
The NBA is seasonal. However, your favorite player’s work ethics are not. They’re constantly focussed on improving their game. For a few Toronto Raptors, that meant sharpening their skills at IMPACT Basketball.
This offseason, Kyle Lowry, Serge Ibaka, and Terence Davis all trained with IMPACT. I talked with Joe Abunassar, the head of IMPACT Basketball, to find out what the offseason was like for those three players and how each player’s training impacts their game.
Serge Ibaka and Kyle Lowry
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Serge Ibaka and Kyle Lowry have worked with IMPACT since before they the league. Lowry transformed from an overweight point guard who couldn’t shoot to a pilates expert with one of the best shooting strokes in the game. Ibaka came into the NBA as a high-flying power forward with a limited offensive game. Now, he’s a skilled offensive big man comfortable operating anywhere the court.
For Lowry and Ibaka, it was all about healing from the toll of last season’s playoff run. “So much of this summer for those two was recovering. Recovering and getting them ready for this next season,” Abunassar said.
Both players are over 30 years old. They climbed to the mountain top and spent an absurd amount of energy getting there. Recovering isn’t just about taking time off, at least not physically. It’s something Lowry and Ibaka work on every season.
When not repairing their bodies, Lowry and Ibaka spend the majority of their time improving skills they’ve already acquired. “Kyle and Serge, we know how they play so we spend 80% of our time perfecting those skills,” Abunassar said.
Ibaka and Lowry are seasoned veterans. They understand what makes them great. They know what they need to work on. And at this point, they know they need to maintain their skills rather than add new ones.
Terence Davis came to impact prior to the draft, and like all college players, needed time to prepare for the professionalism of the NBA game. “[Davis] was in terrible shape.” Abunassar said, “He’ll tell you. And with him, we just really cleaned his body up.”
In year one, Davis worked on his body and adjusting to a new playing style. He already had the skills. He needed to learn to apply them to the next level. Like so many rookies, the game was fast. They worked on slowing down what was happening on the court, something he still is working on. “I know they’re still working with him on slowing down and playing a little different tempo,” Abunassar said.
Abunassar also stressed the importance of rounding out Davis’ all-around game and working on his offensive skills beyond scoring. Davis spent the majority of his time as a shooting guard while in college. But Abunassar believes that his long-term position is point guard. “He needs to be able to handle a lot better. His handle needs to improve,” Abunassar said. “He needs to do it because they’re going to play him a lot at the one.”
Those improvements have already proved critical as Davis runs backup point guard during Lowry’s absence.
Davis’ continued offseason work will help him expand beyond the incredible rookie skillset he’s displayed so far this season. If he can continue to sharpen up around the edges, he has a chance to be an incredible player. “He can really score and I think once he adds the other parts of his game, he can be a very very good pro for a long time,” Abunassar said.