James Reid is a 23 year old 190cm guard from Bend, Oregon playing his rookie season in Germany with Phoenix Hagen currently averaging 12,2ppg, 3,1rpg and 4,5apg while shooting 37% from outside. He got college experience in the states with S.Idaho JC (JUCO), UALR (NCAA) and Boise St. (NCAA). At his season with UALR (NCAA,) he played 31 games averaging 7.9ppg, 2.5rpg, 1.4apg, FGP: 54.5%, 3PT: 34.7%, FT: 76.9%. Last season as a senior at Boise St. (NCAA) he played 31 games averaging 10.0ppg, 2.4rpg, 1.6apg, FGP: 55.6%, 3PT: 38.8%, FT: 82.9%. He spoke to German Hopos about basketball earlier in the season.
James, thanks for talking to German Hoops. Thanksgiving just passed and you were in Germany spending this holiday. How did you experience it in Hagen and what did you miss most from this traditional holiday in terms of spending it with your family?
We actually had a nice Thanksgiving style dinner here with the guys on the team Wednesday night, and then Phoenix put together a dinner for us on the actual holiday. It was really special for the organization to go out of their way to celebrate one of our holidays and meant a lot.
You played at three schools and experienced a lot in young years, but you also have seen a lot as a rookie. How has your rookie season changed for you since the passing of head coach Matthias Grothe?
It has been tough. To be in such a tight community and on such a tight team (with 4 guys from Hagen) and have to go through something like that is not easy. There were some extremely emotional days, but I think it really brought us closer as a team and a community. No one prepares for things like that, but his impact on this team and city will live on for a long time to come.
Did the things that you heard before you came to Phoenix Hagen about the club remain true or did the short history and fans totally exceed the expectations that you had before you came to the club?
Phoenix has been great to me since the very beginning. Everything that has been promised to me has been true and the people running things now have done a great job managing the difficulties in coming out of insolvency. The fans are the best that I have seen and it is a lot of fun to play for a crowd like that.
The club has been a solid BBL team for years and now moved down to the Pro A. Do you feel like the club is playing with more urgency now since the death of Matthias Grothe?
I feel like something emotional like that brings a lot of energy to the table. Initally, it is sadness and anger, but with time there can be a definite impact of playing for something bigger than yourself. We want to play hard every night and leave everything we have out there on the floor.
Except for two games where the defense played bad against Karlsruhe and Hamburg, the team has played very good defense. Do you feel like this team can continue to heighten their game as the season continues?
Yes. I think defense is what wins important basketball games and so for us to do what we want to do this season, we must keep working to improve this part of our team game. There are a lot of areas we can get better at and this is exciting for us.
The club is averaging more than 80 points and are in the top three in league assists and rebounding. In what areas on offense do you feel can the club still get better at?
I think we can get better by playing fast when our defense allows us to. We want to win games, period. And the best way for us to do that is by sharing the basketball and playing faster which are two things that can always be improved.
Phoenix Hagen gets a lot of production from it´s starters, but has a thin bench production wise. How confident are you that the current recipe for success will continue and do you see some guys stepping it up more in time from the bench?
I think our production varies because we have multiple guys that can do a lot of things. We have a very good group of players, many of which haven’t had the opportunity to show their full skill sets. But on a team where winning comes first, not everyone is going to be able to produce to their full capability. We have confidence that anyone who is called on will be ready when their number is called.
You and Derrick Brooks are rookies while Alex Herrera is playing his third professional season. Have you gotten long lasting advice from a guy like him or even experienced German Dominik Spohr that has made the transition easier in your rookie season?
Definitely. We have a lot of youth on our team so the few guys that have been around a bit (like Alex and Dom) have been very helpful in making the transition. Vets help young guys develop, and they help teams win games. We have good ones that have shared a wealth of experience.
Let´s talk about your game. You’re a guard that can really shoot the ball. To what NBA player would you compare your style to and what other strengths do you possess that clearly doesn´t make you a one dimensional player?
I work on my game by taking bits and pieces from all sorts of great players in the NBA and Europe. I think of myself as a Steve Nash type player who plays more of both guard positions than he did. I pride myself on the way I shoot and make my teammates better, passing and getting to the rim, but most importantly competing to win games.
You’re a versatile guard that played a lot of the one in school and are averaging around five assists per game as a rookie. Do you feel like your playmaking skills have really developed and taken off in your rookie season?
I think so. I played PG my whole life until college and then really only played the 2 there. I felt like I lost touch with some of my playmaking abilities in college that I have been able to work back into my game with the right opportunities. I really think of myself like a point guard that can score who plays off the ball.
You are shooting your best ever as a rookie. Has it been more diligent shot selection or just getting in extra reps after practice the last few months?
Shooting is an art and something that you can always get better at. Getting consistent reps is mandatory, but I also watch a lot of film to study my game and see how I can continue to get better shooting the ball.
You’re a guy that can really fill the stat sheet, but what do you feel is still a hidden strength today that doesn´t get noticed right away on the court?
I would have to say my leadership probably. I am the son of a coach and playing like a coach on the floor has always been in my game. It is something that you may see live, but rarely comes up on a stat sheet that I take a lot of pride in being part of my game.
At Mountain View High School you led the Cougars to three Intermountain Conference titles. You didn´t go the traditional route to the NCAA, but played two years at S.Idaho JC (JUCO). Do you feel like you should have played earlier in the NCAA and how much did you benefit from seemingly taking a step back instead of a step forward after high school?
I wanted to play in the NCAA right away, the but the players at CSI (Southern Idaho JC) were better and tougher than the ones where I would have gone to the NCAA. I chose to go a more difficult route that might not make as much sense on paper because I wanted to get better to be the best player I could be.
In 2014-2015 you made the jump to the NCAA to UALR (NCAA) playing 31 games averaging 7.9ppg, 2.5rpg, 1.4apg, FGP: 54.5%, 3PT: 34.7%, FT: 76.9%. What did you learn about your game and self after playing your first NCAA season? You had some very good games especially against Georgia Southern.
I learned that I can play at the highest levels. Having been from a small town and then going to JUCO out of high school, you don’t get some of that experience against the top-level guys. Once I was on the same court and playing well it opened up my game a lot because I saw what was possible with putting in the work.
You especially owned Georgia State winning and losing once and scored in double figures in both games. Do you believe games like these were important for your confidence that allowed you to make the next step at Boise State?
I had some big games at Little Rock (UALR), but overall did not have a very good year statistically. A lot of that was me growing up on and off the court, but I do think it built a foundation for my confidence to grow as I continued to get better the next two years at Boise State. My time in Little Rock was very important for me being able to take those next steps as a player.
You had many exceptional games at Boise State but was your 26 point explosion and 8 three pointers against Air Force your most memorable games there?
I had a lot of good memories at Boise and most of them had to do with us getting big wins. We beat San Diego State, UNLV, SMU, Utah, and some other great teams with good basketball, those were definitely my favorite memories. Playing well is fun, but getting the big wins is why you do this.
You played a season with German big man Robin Jorch. Do you see him playing more of a role this season and do you see him coming back to Germany being able to be a Pro A player?
Yeah I do. Robin is a very good player and while there are a lot of good big guys at Boise, I think he can definitely play professional basketball at a high level over here. He got serious about his game since the first time he got to campus, lost more than 40 pounds and really worked on the interior part of his game. When he does come back, I think he will be able to combine that game with the European style perimeter big and be a force.
How did head coach Leon Rice give you that last push in helping you get groomed and prepared best for a professional basketball career?
With his past at Gonzaga, he had a great understanding of the international game. He was able to pinpoint various parts of my game that I would need to get better at to excel at this level and it was a huge help. Coach John Rillie (Former Aussie National Player) was also on staff and brought a lot of the same benefits to the program and my game.
Who won a one on one in practice you or Alex Hobbs?
Hobbs is a hell of a player, but he still has some learning to do as far as that is concerned… you can’t let a young guy come into the gym and beat up on you! He is an extremely hard worker though, and is having a breakout 2nd season for the Broncos as that work is paying off.
Who was the toughest player that you battled in the NCAA or playgrounds that is in the NBA now?
We’ve had some really talented dudes wherever I have been so I have been lucky to play with a lot of the guys I would consider for answering this question. Gian Clavell (Colorado State, Dallas Mavericks two-way) was really good last year, and so was Semi Ojeleye (SMU, Boston Celtics). We also played Oregon last year before they went to the Final 4. They didn’t have one guy that stood out necessarily, but they were obviously pretty damn good together.
If you had to construct your own NBA Rushmore which 4 heads would you chose?
For the way they changed the game in their respective eras, I am going to go with Shaq, MJ, Magic, & Pistol Pete
Lebron James failed to win his fourth NBA title and is still three away from Michael Jordan. Where does Lebron stand right now in your opinion in the never ending debate of who is the best of all-time?
I think he is right there. When it is all said and done I think the duration of his career (assuming he stays healthy) will have him with ridiculous stats and enough rings to be tough to put anyone in front of him. For now though, I still have to go with MJ.
There has been criticism of Russell Westbrook to be focusing more on rebounding to help inflate his stats and possibilities of getting triple doubles instead of focusing on his defensive assignments. Do you feel that this is a fair assessment to the player Russell Westbrook?
Not at all. I think Westbrook plays so hard that you can never really say he goes harder for the ball here or there. He is as good of a talent as the NBA has ever seen, but just like all the greats, he will be measured in the end by how much he is able to win.
How do you summarize the 2017 NBA Draft. What sleepers do you see playing a role in the NBA?
I think there was a lot of hype for various reasons, but the age minimum makes players better known come draft night and that is good for the fans. It makes the whole process more interesting. Sleeper wise, I like Caleb Swanigan over time in Portland. He was killing everyone in college and I couldn’t believe he fell so far. Kuzma has had a hot start, but I think he is that good and will be looked at as a major steal on draft night in the future.
Where will the journey of the Houston Rockets go this season with Chris Paul and James Harden in the back court. Do they have enough to make a serious run at the title or is something missing?
I think James Harden and Mike D’Antoni are as perfect of a player/coach match as there is in basketball. With that fire power and all of the three point shooters behind them, they could definitely make a run at the whole thing. I think Chris Paul’s leadership will be the most important aspect of what he brings to the Rockets as he is getting older and will not have the ball nearly as much.
How do you rate the Kyrie Irving-Isaiah Thomas trade? Who got the better deal and which team will profit better in the long run?
I think it was a win-win. I think Kyrie will be better for Boston than IT will be for the Cavs, but that has to do with the amount of opportunity that is there. As long as LeBron is on the Cavs, it will be his team. I think that Cleveland could benefit the most if they can integrate all the pieces they acquired.
Where will the journey of the Oklahoma Thunder go this season with Westbrook, George and Anthony? Can they make a serious run in the west?
With that talent level, and a good big man, their ceiling is as high as any. The key will be getting three superstars to play in new roles and becoming a great team which is more valuable than three great individuals. They could be a dark horse to win it all if they can put it together.
What was the last movie that you saw?
Haven’t seen a movie in a while , I am more of a TV show & Sports guy. I think the last one though was the Wolf of Wall Street on the team bus.
Thanks James for the chat.