Weaver making a name for himself in D-League


Dec 6

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Somebody is going to get a chance to pick up a pretty good shooting guard from the NBA’s D-League soon, a guy named Kyle Weaver of the first place Iowa Energy who is just tearing it up.

Weaver is averaging 19 points for the season, but over the last three, 24.7 points, 8.7 rebounds and 5.3 assists. For the season, he is shooting 51.6 percent from the field, 48.3 percent on threes and 87 percent on free throws while being the perimeter defensive stopper for the 7-1 team that is the minor league affiliate for the Bulls and Suns.

You might remember Weaver as the Bulls’ training camp invitee who was the final cut, and while the 6-6 guard concedes some disappointment about not being able to stick with the Bulls, he says it’s been that ol’ blessing in disguise as the Timberwolves, Kings, Clippers and Warriors have been sniffing around, as well as several European teams.

“Coming here from the league (Oklahoma City the last two seasons), I wanted to be a leader and win,” Weaver said by phone from Des Moines just before Iowa beat the Dakota Wizards. “I wanted to make a statement to myself and the other guys that I came from the league, but I’m here to play and win and help guys, be a leader, watch tape, work with the coaches, be a complete player.”

Weaver has done all of that with some brilliant efforts of late, 32 points, 13 rebounds and five blocks last Wednesday, then 30 points, eight rebounds and eight assists Friday before 12 points and five assists in Sunday’s win, but a huge plus-24 in the plus/minus stats, by far the largest on his team in Sunday’s win. “I’m shooting the ball better. But there’s nothing like playing, in whatever league you’re in. To be able to play and win big and make plays, getting the opportunity. It’s a beautiful thing.”

It was a rough few days for Weaver, obviously, after being released by the Bulls—the first time, he said, he’s ever been cut in a tryout—before deciding to go to Iowa. He could have gone straight to Europe, and still could. It’s an intriguing situation for some D-League players now as with the likely potential for a lockout, NBA players with contracts would be barred from playing in Europe. But guys in the D-League who opt for Europe could have jobs all through next season if the lockout proceeds and is stalemated. It’s a choice that makes some stop and think if they want to even go back to the NBA for a short time. But Weaver still does. He believes he’s an NBA player, though as he will be 25 next February, he has to make some decisions.

But for now, he’s ballin’, as they say. Sure, it’s nothing like sauntering onto the charter plane with the full course meals. They ride buses and in preseason had a bus ride to Dallas. No Ritz there, either.

“I figured coming here would be the best option for keeping my name out there,” said Weaver. “But knowing I’d get a chance to play was the biggest thing. It was a weird feeling (with the Bulls). All the coaches kept telling me I was doing great. There was so much positive feedback and I felt like I got better the longer I was there, so it stung a little bit. But at the end of the day it’s a business.

“When you’re competitive and want something bad and don’t get it, you learn,” says Weaver. “But, in a way, I’m kind of glad it happened. Now I understand better the process and it’s something I can use. It’s humbling to come here. We don’t have the resources the NBA teams have, but you really appreciate it if you do get it back. The last game we bused to South Dakota, four, five hours. After the game, we were home maybe 3:30, then did appearances, out signing autographs and then playing again. But this is a good bunch of guys, (some) guys who have also been in the NBA (Othyus Jeffers, Gani Lawal, Courtney Sims), guys who can be. I’m taking this thing seriously. I’m watching a lot of film, going to coach about schemes, details, little things. It’s easy to say you’ve been in the league and you come here and relax and just play.

“But I want to push myself,” says Weaver. “This matters. This is serious. I feel that approach is paying off. I feel like on the court I’m already having some control, telling guys where to be, calling out plays. I’m trying to score, rebound, but not force things, mostly try to win games. It’s a good feeling. Guys are responding. I enjoy playing the game again, being out there making plays. Even making mistakes (averaging 3.5 turnovers). You have a chance to get past it and build your confidence and learn.

“In the league when you are coming off the bench,” says Weaver, “that mistake is magnified 10 times. You come in cold, but you better be ready to play. The staff here is great and putting us all in position to improve and do better. It’s fun again. And we’re winning. And you know when you’re winning, the food tastes better, the girls look prettier.

“Though,” Weaver said with a laugh, “the bus rides still feel long.”

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