Joel Freeland believes that working on his game during the summer, rather than representing his country during this past summer’s Eurobasket, was an opportunity for him to find himself on the NBA stage and ultimately improve his performances for the national side.
Talking to British media during a conference call earlier today, Freeland explained that he spent his off-season in the gym with a handful of Blazer personnel focusing on his defence – an aspect of the game the Blazers were keen for their bench players to improve upon.
“I realised who I was in this league and who I had to be in this league and I decided to take my ego out of it and continue to improve in the way I’m doing,” said Freeland who admitted he needed to change his game if he was to have an NBA career past his initial three-year deal.
“Me playing defence and helping the team and not making mistakes – rookie mistakes – knowing my rotations, just playing overall solid basketball is going to give me the opportunity to finally get on the court and hopefully, I’m going to be able to get comfortable on the offensive side as well which will help further my career.”
Freeland also reiterated his commitment to the Great Britain team, who won two games in Eurobasket without the 26 year old in their squad.
“I’m always free to help the national squad. The only reason that I took the summer off last year was for personal reasons. I felt like that I had to try further my career any way I could and I thought if I played for the national team I might be taking step backwards as the style of play is completely different to the NBA.
“But, from here on out I’m fully committed to the national team.”
Freeland spoke with GB Head Coach, Joe Prunty, during Portland’s recent 108-98 win against the Brooklyn Nets, where Prunty is an assistant coach.
“I had a long conversation with him,” said Freeland. “He was just telling me to keep doing what I’m doing, ‘keep the work up’, ‘everyone’s noticing the hard work you’re putting in, your energy on the floor, so just keep doing what you’re doing’. And I’m going to be in contact with him through the season and talking back and forward.”