Thanks to the wonderful world of social media, the whereabouts of your favorite professional athletes during the offseason are not too difficult to find, including a number of New Orleans Pelicans.
Jrue Holiday has spent quite a bit of time lately in California, training with his brothers in preparation for the next NBA season. Anthony Davis is in Anguilla, taking a much needed vacation with friends and family. And the two newest members of the Pelicans, Julius Randle and Elfrid Payton, have been seen often in the company of Amoila Cesar, a rising name among personal trainers.
Cesar is renowned of course for assisting Julius Randle last summer in making one of the most profound body transformations witnessed within the sports world. The story became so popular that even health fitness journals decided it made good business sense to climb aboard the bandwagon.
Dedicated athletes are looking to gain an edge all the time on the competition and Randle was no different. For instance, one of his primary goals was to be able to finish better after sustaining contact.
You been in the gym lately haven't you @juliusrandle30 ??. One of the first things Julius wanted to achieve when we got together was going through contact and being able to finish strong at the rim! Well looks like summer 17 paid off! Let's turn up summer 18 let's get it!!! @tylerrelph10 @shootcoach
Mission accomplished. The defender disguised as a yield sign was Blake Griffin and 250 pounds of stopping power — who was unable to remotely slow down Randle on that particular drive to the basket.
Finishing through contact is vitally important to Randle because the vast majority of his points comes from in close to the rim. As I wrote several weeks ago, 87% of his attempts came inside the paint with the Lakers last season.
Know who else suffers a lot of hits on a game-to-game basis?
Lacking a reliable outside jumpshot, Payton ranked 16th among guards in field goal attempts in the restricted area, 15th in the non-restricted area inside the paint, and averaged 11.9 drives per game. He is one of the few point guards in the league who enjoys battling for rebounds. But perhaps the biggest area in his game that could use that extra boost in strength and explosiveness is on the defensive end.
It’s no secret: Payton is considered a poor defender. The Magic surrendered almost nine points less per 100 possessions when Elfrid sat; the Suns were 6.5 points stingier when Payton was off the floor. Whether trying to fight through a screen or slide his feet in isolation, Payton has struggled much too often in staying with assignments. Something has to give because his career could be on the line. Maybe a noticeably quicker burst or additional power in his frame can help Payton close the gap between he and many of his peers?
Improving his physical capabilities sure worked wonders for Julius Randle!