Sacramento Kings forward Skal Labissiere spent his first couple of seasons in the NBA learning the speed of the game while head coach Dave Joerger looked for favorable matchups for him.
With his slim frame, the physicality of the NBA was going to be a challenge. During one sequence in Labissiere’s rookie season, the 268-pound Brook Lopez backed him all the way down to within four feet of the basket, called for the ball and easily dumped it into the basket. Joerger would later comment on how Labissiere had to figure out a way to fight against that or front big guys like that.
Labissiere wants to be more than someone who made it into the NBA, so he takes advice to heart, and as he enters his third season he appears to be on a mission.
”I didn’t come into this league just to be an average player, I’ve never been, that was never my mindset,” Labisierre said during Kings Media Day on Monday.
So, he spent this summer investing in his body. He locked in on attacking the weight room and following a strict and consistent diet that featured a lot of protein shakes, fruit and water. A personal chef was by his side throughout the summer to make sure he stayed on track. Coupled with this, he made it a point not to travel a lot and attempted to get eight hours of sleep every night.
The result of his efforts: around an additional 20 pounds. The 6’11’’ forward was listed at 225 pounds last season, so this added weight should put him at around 245 pounds. For comparison, Julius Randle is 250 pounds and Paul Millsap is listed at 246 pounds.
Many were surprised by Labissiere’s new look when pictures surfaced of him on social media over the summer. The same happens in person as he says people are shocked when they see how much muscle he has added. He finds it amusing because the people in his inner circle have seen the amount of work he put in to get to this point.
He expects the added weight to allow him to execute better on offense.
”I feel like the little easy shots I would miss last year, it was because of the bumps. I feel like I can convert more because the game plan was to be physical with him, be physical with him. So, I think this year that will get better,” he said.
With being able to handle those bumps a little better, Labissiere is looking to get more consistent with his jump shot this season. His field goal percentage dropped from 53 percent in his rookie season to 44 percent last season, likely because opposing teams began to implement a more physical game plan against him.
On defense, he expects the boost in weight to allow to him to stand his ground better against big guys. He also thinks that with his added explosiveness and quickness he can elevate his ability to guard smaller guys: “Pick and roll situations, be able to guard smaller guys … it’s not just putting on weight, you have to be able to move with that weight.”
How much this all translates into more consistent production on the floor is something we will have to wait to see, but one thing is for sure: Labisierre is dedicated to the game of basketball and doing what he can to become a better player.
“I have goals for myself, I have things I’m trying to accomplish,” he said.