For the past several years, Jazz players have been spending weeks at a time during the summer training with the Peak Performance Project, or P3, in Santa Barbara. I sat down with several members of the P3 staff at their facility to find out what exactly they do with the Jazz and other NBA players. This is part two of a two-part series. You can read Part 1 here.
Over the summer, NBA teams are prohibited from holding “mandatory” workouts, at least as far as the organization is concerned. But that didn’t stop the Jazz from getting the majority of their team together for a stint in Santa Barbara this summer with P3.
The unique relationship that the Jazz organization has developed with P3 goes back to the original days with Paul Millsap and Ronnie Brewer. Ever since those two started the excursions down to sunny, southern California, more and more players have joined in each year. Not all of them were as open to the idea initially. When Deron Williams was still with the team, he was one of the players who needed to be “converted” to their style, as Dr. Marcus Elliott put it. Since workouts are not required, participation is purely based on the players themselves. After learning about P3′s methods, there’s a reason why more and more players are joining the party.
Williams became such a believer, that he has since introduced the Brooklyn organization to P3. In fact, as you look at the complete roster of P3 athletes, many of them have connections back to Utah.
The staff at P3 credited Jazz trainers Gary Briggs and Mark McKown especially for fostering such a fruitful partnership and had nothing but good things to say about the entire organization. This might be the off-season, but Dennis Lindsey, Ty Corbin and even Randy Rigby have all been down for visits.
In order to track the best results, P3 tries to get athletes to their facility first thing after each season, and then again before the start of the next season. That way, they can grade both off-season and in-season improvements.
The Jazz players to attend this summer were Alec Burks, Jeremy Evans, Derrick Favors, Trey Burke, Enes Kanter, John Lucas III, Brandon Rush, Ian Clark, and most recently Gordon Hayward, Rudy Gobert and Andres Biedrins. The latter three were in Santa Barbara as recently as last Thursday and Friday. The only members not to participate were Marvin Williams and Richard Jefferson.
In talking with Dr. Elliott and staff, they were very cautious as to which information they shared with me. Because of relationships with different players and organizations, they stopped themselves several times before sharing confidential test results. Some information they gather could drastically affect contract negotiations for certain athletes. If, for example, they forecasted health issues with a certain player, that information could impact an organization’s desire to sign a particular player. They did have interesting insights about nearly every player though. But who has shown the most improvement?
“Alec [Burks] was the biggest winner,” said Elliott. The staff really admired him for his work over the past couple years. He has apparently improved in a number of areas from hip stability, knee position and trunk strength, all of which affect quickness. They recognize the unique opportunity Burks will have this season to finally get steady minutes, potentially even as a starter. He is considered one of their more “elastic” athletes. He reached a vertical height of 12′ 2.5″ during an approach this summer. When he first arrived in May 2012 he maxed out at 11′ 8.5″. That height is especially worth noting considering that he also weighs 11 more pounds than when he started.