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[Vipers Notebook] Rockets affiliate Smith working hard while with RGV

Discussion in 'Rio Grande Valley Vipers' started by HoopScribe, Nov 5, 2015.

  1. HoopScribe

    HoopScribe Member

    Jul 19, 2013
    Likes Received:

    Thursday, November 5, 2015 8:43 pm


    Joshua Smith knows he has the talent to be an NBA player. The Houston Rockets think so as well.

    But the Rockets want to see better conditioning and more attention to defense from the 6-foot-10, 350-pound center while he is with NBA D-League affiliate Rio Grande Valley.

    “They want me to develop, to keep growing and keep getting in better shape,” said Smith, one of four Rockets affiliate players in Vipers training camp.

    Smith, formerly of Georgetown, played in seven of Houston’s eight preseason games last month, starting two and averaging 6.4 points and 5.9 rebounds in 15.8 minutes. But he fouled out of two games and struggled at times keeping up with the Rockets’ uptempo style of play.

    “With guys in my position, anytime you’re out there in the preseason and getting time it gives you confidence,” Smith said. “We had some good matchups with playoff teams and teams on the rise and I showed I can play.”

    Smith, who played in the summer league with the Miami Heat, has been working extensively with Vipers strength and conditioning coach Justin Jackson. He already looks trimmer than he looked while with the Rockets last month.

    “He’s getting his extra conditioning in and he knows he’s down here for a reason,” Vipers coach Matt Brase said. “Like everyone down here, he’s got dreams and aspirations to play in the NBA. From the weight room to the cardio to the court, he’s doing everything to put himself in position to get to the NBA and he’s close to being there.”


    Brase is still getting to know his players, and vice versa, but he likes what he’s seen after three days and five practices of camp.

    “They’re bringing energy and they’re working,” Brase said. “That’s all we can ask for right now. They’re catching on at a pretty decent rate, and it’s just building blocks. We’ve got to take it one step at a time.”

    Brase praised the Vipers’ returning players — guards Jaron Johnson, Jarvis Threatt and Akeem Richmond, and forward/center Raphiael Putney — and their aid in helping the rest of the team get used to the team’s systems. Rio Grande Valley has two more days to get ready for Sunday’s preseason game against Mexican league team Fuerza Regia in Monterrey.

    “The thing about an exhibition game is you want guys who play hard, pick up defensively and be really solid on defense,” Brase said. “On offense, you want guys who hopefully do the right thing. Hopefully our defense is a little bit in front of our offense. It won’t be perfect, but the main thing is defense and the effort.”


    Johnson was a tryout invitee last season that caught the Vipers’ eye during a workout in Houston. Johnson parlayed a strong rookie season with RGV (15.1 points per game, 4.5 rebounds per game, 47.8 percent shooting) into a summer league stint with the Rockets and a preseason camp stay with the Washington Wizards.

    “I’m more serious now,” said Johnson, 23. “I’m coming in here with a different mindset. I’m trying to get better and definitely get these guys better and just work hard to have a better season than we did last year.”

    Johnson played six games during the preseason with the Wizards. The 6-foot-6, 205-pounder said his mentality is “as if I’m still trying out to make a team.”

    “I got smarter as a student of the game,” Johnson said. “How to come off ball screens, how to defend … the difference for me is more knowledge than physical. Being exposed to that level gives me a lot of confidence and I’m just trying to be a leader.”
  2. Koperboy

    Koperboy Member

    Mar 21, 2012
    Likes Received:
    Well they all say the right things...let it see on the court too.

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